19, Greenwich South St, SE10
It’s taken me a long while to get around to re-reviewing this place after a somewhat duff experience a couple of years back. They must have been having an off-day as everyone else (especially here) has been saying such good things about it, but it’s still taken a while to come back to the fold…
Inside is very much a neighbourhood restaurant which enjoys a loyal, busy clientele and doesn’t have to pander to the tourist trade like so many Greenwich eateries forced to provide speed and ‘value’ (read ‘cheap’) at the cost of quality.
Even early in the week the place gets pleasingly full with a mixed bunch of young and old, mainly well-heeled looking locals, most of whom already seem to know their way around the menu, despite the fact that it is clearly one that changes with the seasons.
The small, modern interior is clean and fresh, with dark and light contrasts in wall colour (pale cream and chocolate brown) lending an intimate, yet not overbearing atmosphere. I love the fact that they’ve retained the original leaded lights and indented shop windows(including concertina gates when the place is closed,) lending it some kind of link with the past, long pendant lamps and funkily modern seating keeping it from being old fashioned. The walls are adorned with art-for-sale (has anyone ever been into a restaurant anywhere where there was art-for-sale that they actually bought, by the way?) but apart from a wine rack in the window (not, perhaps, the very best place to keep wine, but maybe storage is an issue) and a little sideboard containing local free mags, the rest is unadorned.
The menu is fresh and interesting – modern European, but with a few twists – such as the 5-spice chicken, coconut and coriander spring rolls – crisp, ungreasy and tasty. Judging from the amount of seasonal ingredients dotted around the menu (asparagus and rhubarb to name but two) it changes regularly – clearly further research is needed.
My smoked haddock fishcakes were succulent, smoky and steaming hot, though I confess that I took the tartar sauce for mayonnaise.
Mains were excellent – a fine steak, cooked exactly as requested, and a spinach and goats cheese filo parcel which was about double the size that anyone could possibly hope to consume. After a while I was full, both physically and mentally – definitely less would have been more in this case – but I guess I shouldn’t moan at being overfed…
Inside sticks to its local roots by serving Meantime Brewery beer, which is a welcome addition. The wine list is well-balanced and has examples to fit most night-out budgets.
When I visited the loo, I noticed, out of the open window, a tragic missed opportunity. A tiny, sheltered, courtyard garden, currently full of old windows, broken planks and other rubbish. It would be a wonderful place to site a few raised beds and grow herbs for the kitchen (as well as making a lovely place for the staff to enjoy a teabreak…)
One other thing. Guy Awford has slightly shot himself in the foot with the quotes he uses in the local free mags, in my humble opinion. He’s won all kinds of awards – and deservedly so – but “Guy Awford’s “interesting” cooking” reads to me as a euphemism – surely he could have found a better quote from the mountain of plaudits he must have already received?
Well here’s one for you Guy…
A charming, visitable and revisitable local restaurant serving memorably tasty food.
Ok – fair enough. It ain’t Shakespeare. Stick to the Hardens review, eh, Guy…