The Dial Arch

It’s been ‘opening soon’ for so bloomin’ long that I had frankly given up on ever seeing the Dial Arch open. I used to go past the lovely old building (a mews, perhaps?) on that fantastic ‘village green’ at the old Woolwich Arsenal, and think ‘this could be really good’ but with the financial climate as dodgy as it is just now, I didn’t expect to see it open this year.

But open it has – and thanks to Ken for telling me about it. I’ve now been three times - once just for an afternoon drink outside, the other times indoors to eat. And I have to say, I’m impressed.

Now, I’m a bit of a fan of ‘scruffy’ Woolwich – I really think that much of the town’s charm is that it is a little tatty round the edges. I particularly like the Friday market, a proper market much like one you’d find in the less fashionable towns of France – minus the fabulous fruit & veg sadly, but the sort of place that sells pots and pans, cheap clothing and bizarre electrical items I’m not sure I’d want to actually plug in to a 240 socket. I also really like the factory shops down the high road that actually have bargains, as opposed to the ghastly Bicester. And for Chinese food, I really rate the Favourite Inn, just behind the DLR station.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have time for the more serene, leafy quiet of the Arsenal across the road, and I think they’ve got the Dial Arch just right. I mean – just look at it.

Inside, the style is corporate bohemian  (what Ken describes as “an inevitable mix of wonderful and kitsch”) – bare brick, decorated with things they’ve found around the site and bought-in ephemera, mixed with designer plush – multicoloured velvet chairs and wood/metal tables surrounding a walk-in wine cage one side, which feels quite ‘night time’, squashy leather armchairs and firebowls the other, feeling more ‘daytime-y’ meeting in the middle with a glass atrium where the main bar is. There’s also a semi private room that would be good for birthday parties or Christmas dos. I confess I really like it.

It’s a Youngs pub, but it also sells Meantime. For obvious reasons I can’t comment on the beer; I’m told it’s perfectly acceptable and there certainly seemed to be a whole array of choice on tap. I thought the wine list was better than many.

The food, too, is pleasant, if a little patchy. Not gourmet (though the prices are definitely at the high end of gastro-pub.) The menu is ‘safe’ – modern European plus pizzas and classic pub grub, but sometimes safe is just what you want. The food is not badly cooked and cheerily served (our waiter spent so long joking about how the place wasn’t finished yet – a reference to the walls not being plastered – that he forgot part of our order but he was so keen it was hard to be cross.) The second time I ate, the order was also slightly wrong, but again, swiftly remedied.  The pub-grub seems to come out better than the pizzas – I think the ovens need to be hotter; hopefully that will be remedied soon.

One thing I should also add – don’t get the Japanese rice crackers – two quid for what amounts to be a large egg cup of them represents extraordinarily bad value for money.

Of course relatively few people are choosing to eat-in at the moment, preferring to make use of the giant garden parasols, but I disagree with the person I spoke with who said this won’t work in the winter months. I think it will be a lovely place to enjoy a cosy drink in cold days to come.

For the moment though, a cool drink by the Arsenal Football Club commemorary pillar, with its jolly red pelargoniums, looking across at the pock-marked Roman chap under his own canopy on the building opposite, staring down the barrel of an ancient cannon whilst avoiding the Lawn Sprayer of Doom on the grass takes some beating.

the attachments to this post:

dial arch 4
dial arch 4

arsenal memorial
arsenal memorial

dial arch 3
dial arch 3

dial arch 4
dial arch 4

8 Comments to “The Dial Arch”

  1. Plummy Mummy says:

    So good to have something like this around “tatty” woolwich.
    What’s with the non-drinking? Are you a teetotaller or preggers?

  2. I was most certainly drinking! I don’t drink beer, that’s all. Keep trying it, keep hating it. The wine list is pretty okay – I only didn’t mention specifics because (blush) I couldn’t remember what I’d actually drunk…

  3. Emma says:

    We ate there today and I had to send my food back: the ‘pickles and dips’ arrived with no hoummous or olives and included a bowlful of small capers and a selection of strangely unpickled vegetables, and my ‘bread selection’ consisted of eight thin slices of Ciabatta bread (I had to ask for the oil and vinegar). The staff were extremely nice about it, but I was disappointed as this kind of food should not be hard to get right. My husband’s pizza was OK but as you say, not cooked hot enough.

    The beer was very good apparently! Can’t complain about my lemonade either. It IS a really nice place and we’ll go back, but they really need to sort the food out.

  4. It seems that they’re getting the order wrong pretty much every time, which is a bit worrying. Let’s hope it’s teething troubles – it would be so good to have a decent pub in Woolwich.

  5. Sounds like a good place to try out when I’m down there on my bike some time. Woolwich does seem a long way to go for a ‘traditional’ market when you can come to Deptford for all that AND great fruit and veg!

  6. Sue says:

    I walked past it late morning yesterday and there were a few waiters outside twiddling their thumbs. I do hope it does work, but not sure if the locals will use it if it is as expensive as you and others say it is. I think the Arsenal site is very well conceived – I wish my granddad was still alive so I could show him where he used to work!

  7. Luiz says:


    Second time in there, this time I sat by the kitchen and it was awful.

    Things that me and my wife saw:

    A bloke outside the kitchen (manager?) touching food that was waiting to be served, a few minutes later, this person put his hands inside his trousers (fixing his underwear).

    A sandwich was left for over ten minutes under the lights while something else was being cooked, and on the time it was served, the same dirty hand man touched touched the bread to ensure it was still warm.

    I ordered some baby squid (I have already tried once with no joy). To my surprise, when it was served (overcooked) the chef sprinkled some chilli on it – I could barely taste it, all I could feel is that it was tough as…

    My wife’s terrine was excellent!

    when I paid the bill, it was written spicy baby squid, however, the menu doesn’t say anything about being spicy and to my surprise, when I asked the waitress (who was lovely) she said, – oh, they are changing the menu.

    Anyway… after two years of expectation to this pub, it is sad to say I won’t make my third visit (specially after the man touching the food after touching himself); I recommend you hopping on the DLR and in 20 minutes you can sit at the Narrow and enjoy great views and better (consistent) food.

  8. Dall says:

    They’ve certainly done a great job on the building. Its sad they havent taken the time to train the staff.
    I ordered terrine -which came with two tiny rounds of mini baguette – we asked for more bread and you would have thought we had asked for a side order of cavier. We were told we had to go back to the bar to order more bread – fine – went to bar they told me someone would just get me the bread – I explained waitress said we had to order and pay – took 10 minutes to order it then 20 minutes for it to arrive. By then the main courses had arrived.

    Burger was OK – little burnt but nice enough flavour. Pizza was shocking. So spicy it was inedible – and I like hot hot food. The tomatoe base and mozzarela topping had no flavour at all. Id defiantely make the trip to zerodegrees for pizza which is a shame as they look nice.

    Anyway by then the bread fiasco had escalated and we were offered a free dessert. We opted for knickerbocker glory – this was actually strawberries and icecream sprinkled with almonds.

    On the plus side I’ve had coffee and cake there and it was actually very good.

    I am sure they will sort out the service but they have quite a long way to go with the food.