Eating at Tomassi’s and Grumpy’s, both in a day

I like to eat out in nice restaurants but don’t do it that often and rarely ever do I do it TWICE in one day. But on Saturday that is what I did and I blame it on Christmas together with good reasons for eating out twice in a day. The two restaurants in question were Tomassi’s (around midday) and Grumpy’s in the evening but I had (imho) good reason for doing so. I have eaten in both places more than once before and have enjoyed my experience on all my visits. But the two restaurants, besides both serving good food that was more leaning toward traditional English palates, are quite different in character, both showing their owners hallmark. Tomassi’s is owned and run by Anthony Tomassi and Grumpy’s (until recently) was owned by Paul Van Looy. It struck my sense of humour the differences in establishments reflected the character of the two men.

Tomassi’s is a family favourite so when we decided to do our customary Christmas meet up (four adults and two children) Tomassi’s was an obvious choice, especially as we could potter around the High Street and enjoy some of the Christmas attractions. The food was superb (steak x 2, fish x 2 plus children meals, plus starters and their famous ice cream desserts), and so was the excellent service. I get the impression Anthony runs the show like a military operation and it was fairly full. One family member asked about extra tartare source and it was provided with no fuss. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and the décor was spot on. While it is of Italian origin the wide choice of good food dishes and ambience was quintessentially English. We hardly noticed the three hours passing – such was the unhurried yet attentive service we had. While we could have gone to an eat as much as you like place at half the price, but reckon being looked after as we had represented good value.

I had hoped to regain my appetite for the evening but did not quite succeed. I was a guest of our local community association (which involved Mr Grumpy aka Van Looy, now no longer the owner) and the meal at Grumpy’s was their nice way of saying thank you to those who had volunteered in the St. Lukes community. I had been advised to concentrate on talking rather than eating but the menu looked too tempting (I had seafood salad starter, rib and steak combo main and strawberry cheesecake dessert – all very nice) accompanied by a very acceptable house red. The portions were generous and represented good value (not that I had to pay). The décor was in contrast to that of Tomassi’s given its 1950 / 60’s American theme and full of memorabilia of that era, and it was full. There was music to go with it and for the night an Elvis act which we could hum to and the evening was understandably lively. Service was good and matter of fact. Altogether, a very nice evening out.

It would be difficult to compare Tomassi’s and Grumpy’s as these are quite different establishments and as to where one may opt to go will be a matter of personal taste and occasion. I have to confess in my dotage I would normally opt for Tomassi’s as I like its quaint, old fashioned service where one could be fussed over in a calm and peaceful setting. But if a lively atmosphere coupled with good, honest grub and service in a wackier setting is one’s preference I dare say that Grumpy’s is the place to be. But I liked both places!

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