When I read that the Hill was ‘under new management’ I was rather worried. The old Hill was a decent restaurant/not quite pub which sold the best hand-cut chips in town, all thick, golden and rosemary. The rest of the food was okay but those chips were absolutely incredible.
Still, change isn’t necessarily bad, and I was keen to try it with the ‘new management.’ It took a couple of attempts as, in order to get to the place, you have to pass several other eateries/drinkeries, including the Union, and I was tempted away on more than one occasion, including the time I went to the Hill but ended up in the Prince of Greenwich (though that particular trip does seem to have had the side-benefit of ridding me of the one-time-only commenters who used to come onto the blog merely to rant, post ad-hominem attacks and be generally vile, never to be seen or heard of again…) but I finally made those few steps up the road at the end of last week.
And I have to say that, for the most part, it gets a huge thumbs up. If the menu reminds you of Buenos Aires (the one in Blackheath rather than its sister cafe opposite the Hill) there’s a good reason for that. BA’s manager has struck out on his own and now runs the Hill, taking, I believe, at least one of the chefs with him. And while at times he may have seemed a little harried at BA, here he is relaxed, all smiles and charm – a delight to talk with.
The steaks are, as you might expect from the former manager of an Argentinean restaurant, exceptionally good. Done to exactly how you ask for them, the beef is excellent and the flavour very fine indeed. Many of the rest of the dishes have, like Buenos Aires, an Italian bias and, if they possibly could have done with a teeny bit more seasoning for my liking, that’s a very small grumble – adding a little S&P to taste is a small thing, and not everyone is a salt-freak like me. The pastas are particularly nice.
We didn’t have the pizza – partially because the steaks and pastas beckoned, partially because they are – well – rather pricey. £12.50 seems quite a lot for a piece of dough with some cheese, vegetables and a slice of meat or two on it. I don’t know if the oven is wood burning, which, if it is will make me try them, just for comparison’s sake, you understand (am hugely looking forward to reviewing Bianco btw) but to be honest, I am so happy with the steak and pasta combo, it’s unlikely I’ll be trying the pizza any time soon.
The wine list is very good indeed. As might be expected, Argentinian, Italian and the odd French label caught my eye (though not enough to actually mention any by name, of course. Darn, I’ll never make a professional reviewer like this. Note to self – pay more attention to detail…)
The one real low was the chips. If these are hand-cut, it is by the steadiest paw in Christendom. They were hot (not always a given) but pale and uninteresting compared with the glories the old Hill used to serve.
But even this, though I thought it might be a deal-breaker before I went in, is actually a pretty minor thing. I think the Hill has made a step-change. The food is nudging, perhaps equalling or even more, Buenos Aires.
It will take several more visits to be absolutely sure – I mean – I wouldn’t want this to be a freak experience and every other time an unmitigated disaster. But I’m prepared to make that sacrifice, for you folks. Darling, it’s hell…