The Prince of Greenwich
It’s the post that gets the most comments on this blog, bar none, (127 so far…) though I’ll wager that 99% of them are not from regular readers. People either adore or detest the Prince of Greenwich (formerly, of course, The Prince Albert) and they come here specifically to praise it to the hilt or to verbally send it to the depths of hell, never to return to post anywhere else on the site. And those comments keep on coming – people must actually look it up in the archives (a feat not easily achieved these days) specially to add their golden/venomous praises/curses to the list. (BTW for the people who think I delete messages I ‘don’t like’, you really are new – if you’re posting for the first time, thanks to an anti-spam device, I have to moderate all first-time users. If I’m away then I sometimes don’t see comments for a few days, thus the delay in them going live. For the record the only messages I actively ‘delete’ are ad-hominen, actively racist or homophobic attacks.)
I find it curious that such a place can instill such passion, and I know, a review is well overdue, but when I’m going in with such a barrelful of other people’s opinions it gets more and more intimidating a task to take on. So it ended an on-impulse thing – we were on our way to try out the new chef at the Hill, but on the spur of the moment dived into the Prince instead.
One thing I will say for them – they listened to public opinion on the way the place looked from the outside – one look at the first sign they made (on the old post) and my blood boils again – but they listened to what locals had to say and the sign they have now is perfectly acceptable – smart, even. Frankly I still think the name sucks, but names come and go – Frog & Radiator, anyone (happily reinstated as the Ship & Billet nowadays) – and the sign to me, looks pretty good given it was going to be changed.
Inside, too, I confess to rather liking the decor. 90s-style gastro-pub-cosy, mismatched tables, a very grand mirror, old books, good lighting, tasteful paint-job – you get the picture. It was a pleasant place to walk into and the seats by the fireplace seemed particularly welcoming. We didn’t get to sit there, because there were people already installed, but the rest of the pub was empty. Through the evening, a trickle of people came and went, but it never really got what you might call ‘busy.’ The bar guy was friendly, but not chatty, which is the way I like it.
There are a couple of beers on tap (don’t ask me to remember what they are, you know me…) which seems enough – there’s no point in trying to compete – beer fanatics will always go to the Union. The wine list was good – pricey – but it’s rare impossible to find cheap wine that tastes any good. I’d rather have one glass of something decent than slurp vatfuls of cheap vinegar. My glass(es, ahem) were very good indeed and I’m told the beer, drunk by the rest of the party, was fine.
The menu isn’t extensive – which in my book is a good thing. If they’re not expecting many people, there’s no point in providing masses of choice – much like the drink I’d rather have a smallish choice of good stuff. It has the usual pub suspects; we chose a combination of burgers, salads and lasagnes. Given the tiny amount of people in the pub the food took a looooong while to arrive, but when it did it was, again, perfectly acceptable – neither brilliant nor terrible. The burgers were home made, the lasagnes tasted pretty okay, the salad was fresh. We ate it and it was nice.
And I suspect that that is the issue this place has to deal with. It’s nice. It’s enjoyable. It’s good looking. It’s friendly. The food is perfectly good. It’s doing all the right things – sausages from Drings, for example. But it doesn’t have a ‘personality’ in a street that already has several ‘personality’ pubs. The Union for the beer freaks. The Tolly for the regulars. The Hill for the foodies (though watch this space for a review of the new chef, as soon as I make it that little bit further up the road.) The Prince has nice beer, but it’s not the Union. it has good (very good) surroundings, but it’s not the Richard I. It has okay food, but not the signature dishes the Hill has/had (depending on what it’s like now.)
If it was anywhere else, this place would be a godsend. In East Greenwich we’d be putting out the bunting for a it – we have the Vanbrugh, the Plume and the Pelton, but anything further east just gets a bit scary, pub-wise.
I think it needs to bed-down a bit. Find itself a niche, rather than trying to be all things to all Greenwichians. I can’t see the codgers coming back (I am assuming they’ve decamped to the Morden Arms?) but maybe the Prince shouldn’t be aiming that way. I would love to see the owners coming up with a new angle, a way to create their own personality, to entice people who don’t currently go to any of the Royal Hill pubs - a new clientele.
How to do that? Ah – if I knew that I’d be a publican myself.
If you think you know the answer, Mike has just told me it’s for sale