Thames St, SE10

It had been a LONG time since I’d visited SE10. I had enjoyed it the first time but I wanted to check it out again before writing a review as things can change. And sadly, in some respects, they have here.
It’s still a lovely little local restaurant – cosy bar at the front with squashy armchairs and low lights, Johnny Cash on the sound system (not too loud) and clearly populated with locals. To the rear is the restaurant area – comfy and simple in yellows and reds, with a small patio at the back. I get the feeling it’s a better restaurant in winter to summer – the colours and snugness make me think that Christmas would be a good time to go. As it was, the night we visited just three tables were occupied.
The staff seem friendly enough, but this place does not have the excited air of somewhere they truly want to be. The bread brought to the table was, frankly, mingy – both in flavour and portion size – a strange economy given bread is so cheap. The menu felt a bit tired – with oddly unoriginal dishes that look as though they have been put on because they’re dead certs rather than cutting-edge.

The first courses were well-executed enough, though. The chicken was crispy and enjoyable; the goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tart (the ubiquitous vegetarian option – is there a restaurant in the country that doesn’t do this dish?) had fine pastry and ate well.

But this was a meal that outstayed its welcome, and the longer we stayed, the less we enjoyed the experience. The liver of the main course started out extremely well – but the gravy – well, it was either ultra-reduced or actually was gravy granules. The risotto’ s aroma was so astonishing we had to take a second sniff just to be sure. Yes. It really did smell exactly like damp, musty old groundsheets, and while being taken back to your childhood is often a good thing in food, scout and guide camp in the rain is possibly not one of the best trips down memory lane. Sadly it also tasted similar and didn’t get anywhere near finished. We didn’t fancy a pud.

Did we just have a bad night, or has this restaurant gone downhill? I remembered SE10 as being really good but this latest experience is not going to be repeated until I hear it’s vastly improved…

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