We shared all courses. Except the dessert. A Review of the Hare and Billet

A Review of the Hare and Billet

I’m guessing with all the fuss and publicity around the refurbished Hare and Billet, locals will already know it’s raison d’être: real ales in a gastro pub. You can tell this by glancing in: the elegant interior is also full of people in jumpers, not lipsticked with jangly earrings.

Jumpers only

Jumpers only

The menu is replete with a selection of Meantime brews however the presence of the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich meant that on our visit we were looking for something new. An attentive barman responded immediately to our leaning towards some of the options and muttering their names vaguely by grabbing a sample glass for us to try a few. Phew, ignorance dispelled. Curious Magic Rock was refreshingly unbitter with wonderful citrus flavours and definitely a recommendation if you tend to shy away from beers. Renaissance was heavier and darker.

Curios magic rock

Curios magic rock

We did however spot a problem with the business model. One of our party was dead set on eating chips. And ok, it was a gastro pub, but it was still a pub you know. The vast array of real ales didn’t let it off offering wine, now did it? We had some debate over whether Anya potato might actually be a posh name for chips but it turned out we were wrong, our friend returned with crisps. (Crisps are sold I see… Just not chips..?) and a later google revealed that Anya potatoes are an unusual type of Scottish potato- produced exclusively for Sainsbury’s. A classy touch!

Salad that is not overdressed. (Not in a jumper tho).

Salad that is not overdressed. (Not in a jumper tho).

The food that was available was exquisiteness cooked. Feta and broad bean salad stater was fresh and rich with the flavour of the ingredients rather than the flavour of an over eager vinaigrette. The lamb came with the best slice off potato gratin ever made with a perfect measure of nutmeg.

Check out the nutmeg in that!

Check out the nutmeg in that!

It was expensive. We shared all courses. Except the dessert.

There were strictly only 3 deserts available. Which seemed a little offish to me.
Take a look at the dessert menu to see what the Hare andBillet’s real priorities are…

Pudding, or pudding wine?

Pudding, or pudding wine?

So among the dessert options were Valhrona chocolate cake (I usually find chocolate cake very disappointing); another was bakewell… a concept that will always blighted in my mind by Mr Kipling’s cold and stodgy pastry. The last was boiled orange cake. Now that’s the sort of thing.

Boiled orange cake was tangy, but needed to arrive with something sourer than vanilla icecream that made the whole experience a little sickly.

More thought needed with the choice of side

More thought needed with the choice of side

Cold stodgy pastry is definitely worse than chocolate cake, at least you can eat the icing without an uncouth experience with a glacé cherry, so the 2nd dessert we chose was chocolate cake. Now I do buy that the chocolate cake was good quality. Made of proper chocolate and not labouring under any silly icing pretensions. But it was a bit unexciting.

Average Valhrona

Average Valhrona

There must be a good way to make good quality chocolate cake other than to name it after the manufacturer. It’s not like the chocolate market has suffered under investment lately. Except for Thorntons (but that’s a good thing, surely?) In my experience scotch is a great combo with dark chocolate… And how about the grounding effect of crumbled walnuts in a flourless type…Any local chefs out there prepared to take the bait?

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1 Hare and Billet Rd, London

I have eaten so many almond cakes that weren’t this almond tart

A Review of The Hill in Greenwich

The Hill sits at the bottom of Royal Hill, and i have to be honest I was a little too prejudiced by its previous incarnation to go out of my way for a visit. On a journey home from Peckham, it was only after passing a road to Greenwich and watching it disappear into the distance like a lost eating out opportunity, that made me think of eating out and taking the Royal Hill and the restaurant it ended with.

See the cakes on the counter

See the cakes on the counter

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The Hill suffers a little from its change in status because it appears to be a restaurant squashed into a pub, and that’s a pub with a very different agenda from sunny mediterranean food. As we entered, we saw tapas menus on the side and smiled. however on being seated, the menu we were handed had no tapas.

However there were good signs – the charm with which the staff found us a late seat with no booking; and the cakes sitting on the bar. This included an average looking chocolate cake which might actually have tasted more than average. But I had a suspicion that the blond looking cake was almond tart of a kind I have only yet enjoyed in Mallorca. Mixed olives and flat bread also boded well.

Tasted good too

Tasted good too

Flat bread

Flat bread

Well firstly the starter was great. Chargrilled squid being a far superior alternative to calamari, and chorizo going well with errrr… everything. I do mean everything.

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I chose the pork with apple mash. Sounds traditional, huh? Well, it was so much more than. There were other flavours in the mash. And hidden under the two fillets of pork, was yet another fillet of pork. Frankly I couldn’t eat it all. I gave it to my husband. He obligingly shared his which I remember being impressed by… Perhaps you can tell me want it was? I normally photo the menu to joke my memory. I forgot.

Sorry, I remember enjoying it. No idea what it was

Sorry, I remember enjoying it. No idea what it was

Note the piece of pork hiding

Note the piece of pork hiding

I also recommend ratatouille. Ratatouille can go one of two ways, barely distinguishable from washing up, of a diversity of flavours (this was the latter, by the way. Hence the recommendation).

At about this point the chef burst out of the kitchen and arrived grinning at our table to ask if we had been here before, and were we local, and point out that we now knew where they were. This was far from cringing, we though about the meal so far and thought to ourselves in a rather satisfied way, yeah, we do know where you are and we should come back.

And the critical question was the dessert menu.this was on the mark. The chocolate cake turned out to have a fancy name “Selva Negra” does that change anything? (I’ve been hurt so many times.) Fortunately there were way too many fish in the sea (aka dessert menu, and not really fish either) for me even to consider it for long. I’d pretty much already decided on the almond tart, but the actual dessert menu left me angsty: Don Pedro (ice cream with walnuts and whiskey – yeah, whiskey…) pancakes, and my perpetual weakness- CHURROs!

Errr... You caught me trying to hide a churro just there

Errr… You caught me trying to hide a churro just there

I have eaten so many almond cakes that weren’t this almond tart. And they even stayed on the ball with the ice cream. I’d have celebrated them for that almond tart alone but the cinnamon ice cream that came with it was the absolute brilliant balance of subtle comforting flavours.

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Yeah, I was sad that there was no tapas. But I felt somehow consoled.

020 8691 3626
89 Royal Hill, Greenwich SE10 8SE

‘Let’s all eat chocolate icecream because it is so much better than it used to be’ a review of Black Vanilla, Greenwich

A review of Black Vanilla in Greenwich

I don’t think the staff at Black Vanilla in Greenwich are very happy with me.
And that’s without even knowing about this blog.

It went like this: We arrived after a bit of a tourist outing in Greenwich. This had featured the Queen’s House (good art in parts) and the exciting Greenwich market. I’d just been sat by the Thames eating a South Carolina (err, or it might have been a different southern America. state…) hotdog followed by the market’s Churros. Both of these deserve comment, so please see the footnote below.

Needless to say, I wasn’t hungry when I arrived at the oft recommended Black Vanilla cocktail ice cream bar in Greenwich.

Also I was designated drinker. It is imperative to drink when you are designated drinker. Otherwise you would be depriving your other half of the next opportunity, see.

Then you have to consider that I really love Black Vanilla’s coffee; and an affogato (did you know that meant drowned? I only learnt it from the menu at Black Vanilla) would be great with a brandy.

Affogato after

Affogato after

But the hot chocolate kept catching my eye. The hot chocolate came with chocolate icecream in steamed milk. Wowee! We all know that the UK was slow on the uptake with chocolate ice cream, so when people actually started making the real stuff here, everything became a bit ‘let’s all eat chocolate icecream because it is so much better than it used to be’. And some of those Belgian chocolate ones were what we always knew chocolate ice cream should have been.

Let me make this clear: hot chocolate made of cold chocolate ice cream, melting in the cup. And that is chocolate ice cream with promise. Are you getting me?

I’ll never know if Black Vanilla chocolate icecream was as rich as it would need to be to make a really good hot chocolate. I didn’t choose it. (Well, I say never… I do after all have to keep visiting new places to keep you lot happy…) I just let it keep on short circuiting my brain from making any non-hot drink decision.

So in the end, I ordered brandy in Affogato because that would also be great and tick the alcohol box.

I leaned back as the waiter walked away and said, I can’t believe I haven’t picked a cocktail- they make ice cream versions, you know. To which my husband replied he was also in disbelief. That was the catalyst. What had I done? I’d missed ice cream mojito. It was the hot chocolate’s fault for diverting me.

I had to change the order to a coffee and the ice cream mojito. Hence their annoyance.

 

Ice cream mojito

Ice cream mojito

They are very civilised service there. We were offered water in elegant glasses with our order, something that I have only seen at l’Artisan despite all of my travels. It is also a very pretty upstairs room. It’s nice to see the opulence of the original building being enjoyed. And BV have chosen design rather than ‘shove ’em all in’ tables’, possibly to their detriment given the number of people being turned away.

 

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So the coffee arrived, and I won’t bore you on the subject of how great the Black Vanilla coffee really is again. See my review of the non-alcoholic Blackheath branch. But the mojito…. Ahh, the mojito. It wasn’t a long drink; it was served in a martini glass. It was refreshing, green, hapifying. I kept saying “I’m so sorry that I am designated drinker today” to my husband as I licked the sugar from the bottom of the glass.

Note on Greenwich Market Food: Since discovering these churros, a visit to Greenwich Market really means an excuse to eat the Churros with cinnamon sugar and chocolate (nice as creme du leche is, chocolate is a needed low note). There is no such thing as “I am not in a mood for Churros now”. Ever. The hotdog was also pretty pizazz- spicy sausage and all the trimmings in a half wholemeal baguette. I didn’t think I could eat it all, I couldn’t stop myself.