Ham sandwiches with jam- A Review of With Jam and Bread

http://www.withjamandbread.com/home/4567838228

People have been raving about With Jam and Bread. It’s a good title, you have to admit, echoes of the nostalgia of Nigel Slater’s toast. It’s a bright studio space with pops of art and uncomfortable red seats and is a welcome addition to the Lee high Road.

Interior if With Jam and Bread

Interior if With Jam and Bread

It is in fact an art gallery coffee shop, with the sort of art I would actually buy as opposed to strange collages that started off with a good corner, but had to make up for the rest with thick confused splodges of paint. Nine out of ten for atmosphere. I think this is why it is is such a favourite.

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With jam and bread turned out to be a description of the sandwiches. I did anticipate that my ham salad sandwich would come with bread, but I was taken aback by the oodles of strawberry jam soaking through it.

Ham sandwich with bread... And jam

Ham sandwich with bread… And jam

Actually, this proved a rewarding combination. Afterall, people eat honey roast ham. I could even see it working with goats cheese, egg (maybe I’m getting carried away), but I just would have preferred to know before I ate.

They have the decency to name their coffee source on the chalked up boards. Which tells me that they respect coffee. The 2:20 charge said they respected it a touch more than maybe I did. But the flavour suggested that respect was a distant affair, a conceptual respect for coffee that did not get close to intimacy. (It wasn’t bad, just wasn’t amazing),

The cakes also were so so. Particularly the almond croissant. Croissants are not to be messed with, they should be light, crumbling and crunchy. By no stretch of the imagination should they be squished, stale or made with margarine. Like I said, the almond croissant at With Jam and Bread was so so, possibly on the squished side. The lemon poppy seed was no better. It was a generous slice, but it was kind of stodgy.

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The tea, on the other had made up for it all. But not all that respected, appearing on the menu as leaf tea, with no variations led me to expect nothing but English breakfast until I ordered, and a vast array was rattled off. The pot arriving was both sophisticated in look and taste. There’s nothing like pouring endless cups from fresh steaming leaves and thinking, just thinking.

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I am going to get a lot of stick for this… A Lament for a Lost Starbucks (and some alternative recommendations)

I am pretty sad to see Starbucks bite the dust in Blackheath. I would have been sadder to see it go had it actually been allowed to use the downstairs for seating.

Ok, so it sold chilled cakes and thought that coffee was interchangeable for brown coloured perfume.

But it started the whole cafe culture thing. There were the days when I would sneak out of my creative writing college in my 15minute break for nothing less than a Starbucks latte to bring back to the classroom and slurp to the annoyance of my more grown up colleagues. And while I am obviously far to cultured to ever err… regularly buy a high street coffee now I have aged, I’ve still been known to pop in for a gingerbread latte (with even more subterfuge than when I go for a McDonald’s breakfast.)

Starbucks still has a few gems: eggnog lattes, and cinnamon rolls. it was in Blackheath Starbucks that I first read of the ‘Save the Con’ campaign.

Apparently the closure was all over licensing. Which at least means that, despite all appearance to the contrary, the village is not going to die in the strangle hold of betting shops and estate agencies. But it will suffer. It is hard to get a seat in the village at the weekend and sometimes you think you might not be bothered if the trip does not come with cake and coffee. (Because all trips are really about cake and coffee… or haven’t you been listening?) And another high street women’s clothing chain feels soulless, even as a woman, who really likes clothes.

And i would also like to note the good grace with which it departed, (even if it was a PR ploy)offering the residents of Blackheath free coffees in its dying days.

I hope the other coffee shops have hired baristas with skates on to meet the morning commute requirements of Blackheath station. Recommendations for alternative coffee for commuters I received from fellow tweeters:
Most like Starbucks: Giraffe (I have not reviewed Giraffe)
On the way to the station from Lee: Petit Boulangerie Jade (rumoured to open 7:30) My first ever coffee shop review!
Good Coffee: but differs from Starbucks Hand Made Food (you’ll laugh at the title of this review) and also Chapters
Exceptionally Good Coffee, but not open early, Black Vanilla
I’ve tweeted Black Vanilla that earlier opening hours would go down well (and probably make them a huge amount of money), bu t they do not fear my coffee shop reviewer power and haven’t actually replied. I was about to do a glowing review of their Greenwich location too. Sniff!
Highly recommended (but yet to be reviewed by me): Blackheath Deli
Coming from Blackheath Standard, Mocca
Costa has also been mentioned, but I can’t really side with that I’m afraid…

Leave Trifle in the Seventies! A Review of The Guildford Arms

We decided to risk the Guildford Arms. I say ‘risk’ because our on our last visit we had a very uncomfortable experience there. Admittedly we arrived late and not too sure we wouldn’t be turned away. However on being welcomed, a rush job was done with our meals – especially the partially cooked potatoes, making the whole visit a pretty disappointing expense. This was a pity as we have never experienced this at the sister restuarant, ‘Inside’.

Fake candles

Fake candles

Ah but everyone deserves a second chance. Even if they seem to spend more time and effort advertising and writing in the local glossies than actually cooking.

I like muted blues

I like muted blues

The environment at the Guildford arms was very pleasant: a wood clad room and jazz. They even had really clever fake candles that flickered in a frosted glass. Although I did wonder why they are needed. Is the cost of wax prohibitive these days? Are the papers full of reports of restaurants burned down by escapee candles? Equally mysterious was the two cubicle toilet with one elongated sink. It was very sophisticated in appearance, but if the two cubicles were used at similar time, there’d be a queue for the single tap. Watch our for that.

I began by enjoying a very rich roquefort souffle, but then a scan of the mains menu presented a challenge. It didn’t leave me in a quandary of which exciting meal to pick, so much as trying to infer what possibly could have something exciting lurking underneath the dsecriptions. While I very much enjoy ‘traditional with a twist’ (see the Rivington review) the menu at the Guilford arms was very traditional with a very subtle twist, almost too subtle to notice. We were not entirely forsaken to a single flavour: corn purée accompanied the guinea fowl and blue cheese with the steak. In fact following the long agony between starter and main (what is with these waits?) the roast guinea fowl with bacon and beef fillet with supplement arrived and were delicious. It’s hard to describe what went so right with these dishes- clearly not their descriptions on the menu. Both were hugely reminiscent of a good English roast. I mean of the standard that your good cook friend would make you rather than an £7 a head carvery plus plate design and elegant portion sizes. I appreciate that sounds like I have missed the point, but I would go so far as to say (on this occasion) that they were absolutely and without reservation flawlessly cooked, taking the dishes to their best possible performance.

Beef with supplement

Beef with supplement

Guinea Fowl

Guinea Fowl

This very traditional seems to be defining Guildford’s market. I had a sneak peak at it’s more popular sister restaurant Inside’s menu, and they at least tossed chorizo into one of the meals. This is probably more my style. Mark’s and Spencer have my demographic tagged.

Fortunately the dessert menu presented more sparky selections – oh that trusty course ‘dessert’. Some of them extended to the odd spice, albeit in the traditional combinations of ginger and rhubarb or vanilla and cream. The ginger and rhubarb was a brilliant balance of the two flavours- a rare achievement having sampled many attempts at this combination, many overdo the ginger. But this being part of a trifle, I had to fight through clouds of cream to reach this harmonious performance. Leave trifle in the seventies. The only part worth keeping is the sponge fingers in jelly. The other dessert was creme brûlée with cardamom shortbread. For those of you who think that shortbread is best served with caramel and chocolate on top you need to try this- a way more sophisticated twist than millionaires shortbread.

Clouds of Cream

Clouds of Cream

Creme Brûlée

Creme Brûlée

Desserts compounded the reality that the small portions were large enough. We were now completely satiated. I ordered a black coffee to finish with. Think it was an Americano, but I can’t get excited.about the difference between this and a filter coffee. Can you? It came with such rich stiff frothy milk in a jug on the side that it quickly evolved into a cappuccino. I have no faith in my own convictions. We were warned that the truffle on the side came with cognac.

I thought that was kind.

This review was of the restaurant upstairs.
The Guildford Arms, 55 Guildford Grove, Greenwich SE10 8JY

The Neon Counter Base Glowed Pink in Appreciation. A Review of the Coffee Shop at the Maritime Museum

Yet another surprising addition to the reviews that i had not expected to have much to say about. but the cafe at the Maritime museum is jolly jolly nice, and worth a visit in its own right.

It takes some finding. We emerged from the Ansell Adams exhibition determined to find the coffee shop for sustenance to keep going in out long evening out to come.
Distressed, we found that upstairs was closed and I concluded that the coffee shop no longer existed.

Not so, my hungry husband who insisted that we were too far from Rhodes for the coffee smell to be coming from anywhere else and located a map, only to find that it had been hiding behind the entrance to the exhibition.

What a magnificent vista from a large open space (locals will know that ‘large’ is an achievement in these parts). You can overlook Greenwich Park. Suddenly the months of boarded up maritime museum ruining the views from the park made sense. This was what they were building.

Winters day view

Winters day view

We purchased a dark chocolate lemon tart. The neon counter base glowed pink in appreciation of our choice, then red, the purple… Actually it just rotated through the visible spectrum.

Pink Neon Glow

Pink Neon Glow

I have to respect what is going on in the aforementioned lemon tart… We get good quality shortbread base, we get high content cocoa chocolate layered sneakily above it – in a kind of grow up, paid attention to detail sort of way, and we get luscious oozing lemon curd- you know how that is (see Boulangerie Jade review), plus a lightly brûléed top.

I do respect it. But I don’t agree with it. With the exception of bitter midnight lemon club bars (last seen in school lunch boxes of the nineties) lemon and chocolate don’t go. It’s the rules. They take you on two completely different sensory journeys – sorry to sound like an aromatherapist but it’s true. One is deep and bitter and cavernous. The other is sunny and light hearted. They wouldn’t even get on with each other on a date for goodness sake.

Fabulous ingredients individually. All wrong together

Fabulous ingredients individually. All wrong together

Fortunately the coffee shop at maritime was all over this and provided orange and chocolate shortbread tarts. I did not taste and cannot vouch for the adequacy of the tart, but consider this a much more acceptable combination.

We were there quite late, so we may have been seeing a depleted collection, but there were at least 2 other interesting looking cake options that I may return to investigate in addition to some very interesting main meals chalked onto the menu board.

And so to coffee. It boded well as the Italian primadonna barista hung over his assistant’s efforts, and it tasted good, arriving with a very romantic latte art. It tasted so good that we went to investigage the make despite closing time hanging over us. It was hard to miss.

Latte Art

Latte Art

But we did not purchase. At £7 a bag, this was indeed the most expensive coffee we had ever seen. So the various grades if strengths remain uninvestigated, and £2.20 a cup sounds like a very good deal.

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Coffee Shop at the Maritime Museum
(Not the 16″ West Brasserie, which is above it)
National Maritime Museum
Romney Road
Greenwich
London
SE10 9NF