Reviews of The best places to Eat in Blackheath and Greenwich

It’s high time that this blog made some explicit recommendations. Other than telling you that the staff were sweet, you probably want to know where we had meals that were really great, or err kind of disastrous.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0782.jpg
Now on the coffee shop front (after all, that’s how you know me)

Buenos Ares Cafe. The joy of Buenos Ares is the chilled atmosphere which is quite an achievement in squashed up Greenwich. There are no out and out cake winners, but their approach to savoury platters is fabulous… and usually too much for one person to eat:
http://wp.me/p5fONJ-f7

Peyton and Byrne. I really don’t want this to be my favourite coffee shop, but I have to say its produce is flawlessly excellent with exciting attention to detail. I’ve been here twice. This was my first visit http://wp.me/p5fONJ-hc and this was the visit where I realised how great it really was. http://wp.me/p5fONJ-jr

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0778.jpg

And the Scullery in Blackheath Standard, oh what great coffee, what simple but wonderful cakes. http://wp.me/p5fONJ-gd

On the subject of cake, pretty decent cakes can be found at Rhubarb in Lewisham’s Glass Mill, otherwise known as the Lewisham’s swimming pool. http://wp.me/p5fONJ-eKYes really.

Gail’s Bakery, now I am writing this review with Gail’s having newly opened, and it’s impressive and exciting shop front could just be prejudicing me, but for now, ain’t it great? If the shine wears off, I’ll be sure to update you. http://wp.me/p5fONJ-jJ

And for restaurants

Buenos Ares restaurant. Do you notice a common theme here?
http://wp.me/p5fONJ-v

Bianco 43. Interestingly this review provoked reaction amongst people who have not enjoyed their pizzas, but I have to say I am a fan. I have been there whilst known to be a local food blogger, and also more anonymously, but each time I have had a fantastic time. http://wp.me/p5fONJ-cn

Chapters. Again. I really wanted to hate Chapters.. http://wp.me/p5fONJ-2A

The Hill, at the bottom of the Royal Hill is a real gem. Excellent food, both sweet and savoury.
http://wp.me/p5fONJ-aP

Huge disappointments included Jamie’s Italian http://wp.me/p5fONJ-fP and Cau http://wp.me/p5fONJ-g2 The former in particular should have no excuse. After all, we have particularly enjoyed visits to other Jamie ventures such as Barbecoa in New Change http://wp.me/p5fONJ-2X

I blog (almost) weekly, so make sure you keep up by using the buttons above for a regular email, or RSS feed.

Am I missing anything? Please let me know in the comments boxes below, and I will go and investigate

A Three Course Amuse Bouche

A review of Gravetye Manor, East Sussex
http://www.gravetyemanor.co.uk

I’m figuring that my weekend away in East Sussex counts as a Blackheath blog review. This is because I live in Blackheath and I want to go on weekends away that are an adequately short drive away from Blackheath, and I’m figuring that my Blackheath and Greenwich readers do too.

Gravetye Manor gave us a very warm welcome, potentially because the hotel was quiet, us arriving 10 minutes before the allowed check in time, although throughout our visit all reception/waiting/cleaning staff offered a cheery hello! We were led through perfumed hallways with woodsmoke and Corot-like oil paintings to our room, which was impressive. Much care and attention had been give to the decor of our standard room, a key feature apparently being textures. Bose speakers and a Nespresso machine were nice touches, along with a mini bar of complementary juices, and cantuccini.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0932.jpg
We’d planned a late lunch by one of the open fires but the sun was actually out (despite the time of year) and we wanted to take a look at The Manor’s advertised gardens in the short period of daytime left. The gardens were beautifully cultivated, taking advantage of differing ground levels and took a good hour of exploration including a sitting on garden benches in the autumn sun overlooking a neat but completely unused croquet lawn.

There is a strong slant on garden food in the hotel’s promotional material and we are pretty sure that our eggs and vegetables were sourced from the walled garden, although there were very few vegetables with any of the meals…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0931.jpg
On return to the hotel, lunch from the garden menu was disappointing. We’d aimed to eat very light (in preparation for the evenings meal ahead), and so ordered eggs and smoked salmon, which basically arrived as a soft boiled egg without salt or pepper and a loaf of salmon. This was a little bit of a let down despite being a fan of eggs and there was so much salmon and yet so little flavour (or veg).

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0929.jpg
The cheese as ordered by my husband however was delicious. The size of the portions will take about a year on the cross trainer to remove from my body. And while we had the cheese names listed to us by an eager waiter, it was a bit ‘in one ear and out the other’ as our mouths watered. This was a pity as there was an exceptionally subtle blue cheese and great goats cheese that I will never be able to name for you. We were slightly tricked (haha) into a lunch time wine. I ‘d been holding out for dinner, but was told that their English red wine was light. Why I thought this changed anything about dinner, I don’t know, but It was offered an excuse and I ran with it. Actually it was fabulous. Light and grown up.

There was a bizarre cramped feeling in the living room where we ate lunch, with the main door opening straight onto the only sitting room with an open fire. This was bemusing given there clearly was much more space somewhere in the hotel.

The dinner menu was fantastic.
This is the first three course amuse bouche I have ever eaten:

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0928.jpg

However I preferred, the cauliflower and truffle velouté. Very truffley.

Scallops with fennel and vinegar sounded like an unattractively astringent
combination, but arrived very traditionally tasting (and perfectly cooked). Exactly what I ate for mains is a little bit up for debate because it was venison cooked in the way that the hare would have been if they had not run out of hare. With the exception of a small pastry slice (‘the chicory tart’ I assume) which bought an unwanted extra oiliness to the dish, the meal was excellent. The slices of venison being beautifully cooked and tender, and whatever constituted the meat ball delicately spiced.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0926.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0925.jpg

As with all restaurants the waiters offered still or sparkling water. But if you paused, they would then add, or there is the local spring water. The mark up on still and sparkling water was so great that they were hiding their own local speciality. This was beneath them, I think.

We especially asked if we should order side orders, because if the dishes came with enough sides, we might not be able to eat dessert. Terrible! It was advised for my husband’s Brill so we ordered dauphinoise which the waiter said would easily share between 2 dishes. Check out the pretty tiny saucepan in the picture. That’s what was to be shared between two. Fortunately, this wasn’t especially necessary because here meals were perfectly balanced.

The dessert of hazelnut creme brûlée, chestnut canele, walnut crumble and dark chocolate was good, but a little samey by the end which is odd given the effort for diverse flavours.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0924.jpg
We went for coffee and petit fours by the fire. This was the meanest selection of petit fours I have ever seen.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0921.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0923.jpg

So, back to the room. The water pressure and shower were great and there was a heated floor. Woohoo at for heated floors. These should be in planning instructions for the building of everything, even carparks. (Maybe not tube stations).

But hanging a newspaper in a pretty straw sack on the door handle might look sophisticated, but it does wake you up at 6am and what I never ever want at a weekend away is to be woken up at 6am.

Breakfast service lacked a little panache with dirty plates left unremoved, and bizarrely undercooked poached eggs (Gravetye does not honour eggs. I suppose no one is perfect), however it did retain its charm. One area for improvement is the communication of how the breakfast menu works. I am acquainted with the free for all buffet, or the free for all a la carte (yes really) or the choice between continental versus full English options. Here everything was listed out with out any clear guidance on what choice fitted their expectations. This was a pity, as you might have chosen fruit and yogurt, but it turned out that fruit and yogurt were both starters, and you could only chose one. The cooked breakfast was considered the main course which sounded intimidatingly heavy, but was in fact presented with the same elegance as dinner and in similar petite portions. A nice twist was the lambs liver. And frankly, after that, we just asked for a mini pain or raisin and a pot of coffee, which was delivered without a second glance.

Staff, even cleaners, make the effort to be friendly, unlike some hotels we have been to where reception is shall we say point-scoring? Attention to detail and quality is mostly very high. No one ever asked for our room or our name. Or maybe we had been marked down as troublesome customers once we had ordered the spring water.

Car journey from Blackheath: 1.5hours
Room Rates: £250-325 for standard room
Nearby attraction: the Bluebell Railway (that is steam trains!)
http://www.bluebell-railway.com
The Horsted Keynes station is preserved as it may have looked in Victorian age,with the exception of the credit card machine. Unfortunately trains are not too frequent but a bit of an explore will find you a roaring open fire in the waiting room. In the cafe you can buy a sausage roll or a hot chocolate, AND PREPACKED FLAPJACK. I think I have made my thoughts clear. We took the railway to East Grinstead where we found an equal dearth of coffee shops, but did buy Lyonaise sausage from the local marketers recently recommended by hairy bikers. Which was odd. Has anyone else tried this?

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8be/37885464/files/2014/12/img_0927.jpg

Multidimensional viewing

A Review of Gail’s Bakery in Blackheath SE3

Sometimes I am lazy. Sometimes the likes of Jamies’s Italian and Cau hit the streets of SE3 and SE10 but take me a whole six months to get around to visiting (not that either of them were worth it). But I was a little spurred into action by the heaving contents of the ginormous Gail’s Bakery. It looked like I was about the only resident of Blackheath who had not visited the Bakery within three days of its opening. This just was not on!

IMG_0934.JPG

So despite being on something of a health drive at the moment, I forced myself through those doors and to the delightful view within.

The three layers of Bakery layout is a very clever design. Now I know that this is very similiar to the design that was Prime Videos (but different from India Jane, I think?), but for a Bakery it creates wonders – Multidimensional viewing: look up, see happy baked-food-eaters, framed by the hanging wares of the bakery. Look down, see the evidence of onsite bakery with gratuitous piles of appetising breads to one side. Look in the middle, and you get sandwiches, patisserie cakes, breads, baked things. There is a significant message here: there is bakery going on all around. Don’t be left out. Get in quick.

IMG_0933.JPG
So in summary, our plate held a buttery light fruit cake with cinnamon and almonds. I ate the marzipan separately (never grew up, see). Marks out of five: 4. And a ginger nut that verged on a little cake. It was ginger nutty, invitingly brown and crystallised with sugar. Marks out of five: 5. We ate it with a capuccino that was nice and flavoursome.

We came home with a tiny buttery (i know I already said it) Mexican wedding cake that seemed like it should be olive oily, but had that nice understated not too cakey element to it; what should have been a quinoa sourdough, which although delicious seemed to contain large seeds that did not resemble quinoa – any enlightment to offer me Blackheath? and a sausage roll that in the words of my husband, did compete with the sausage rolls from Hand Made Food. You heard it here first. (Really you did, I scanned the Bugle’s blog to make sure there was no reference to sausage roll).

3 Blackheath Village
London, SE3 9LA
Opening hours
Monday-Friday 7am – 8pm
Saturdays & bank holidays 8am – 8pm
Sunday 8am – 7pm

No Dessert Menu?

A a review of Rare in Greenwich.

Rare cuts a dramatic black presence on the Woolwich road, virtually hemmed in by run down charity shops and takeaways. And to be honest it is nice to see someone trying just here. It is nice to see something clean and looked after. An apparently family run restaurant. The varnished black them continues inside with red cushioning and cheesy music, hmmmm.

IMG_0900.JPG<

I get that I should have ordered steak at this ‘steak and fine dining house’. But I was thinking of you guys and there is only so much to say about steak. I thought that the house special, Latti Family Kleftico, boded well… Except I didn’t know what it was. The menu said it was a dish passed in by the previous owners, so it was a bit reassuring to think that Latti was probably the name of the previous owners rather than the constituents of the dish. However the only information I could ascertain from the staff was that it was made with lots of different things in the sauce, lots of different oxo cubes, like tarragon oxo cubes and herb oxo cubes.

Now I am thinking that they mean stock rather than just many different types of oxo cubes, but you know when someone just isn’t selling it? On top of that I had gathered that this red meat featured, but that there was only one type of red wine that came by the glass. Strange for a steak restaurant. Red snapper it was then, with homemade coleslaw.

The menu demonstrated that Rare were big fans of potato (admittedly following a strong list of grills) with about 9 variations on the spud theme. I am all for restaurants that remember it is nice to enjoy the whole dish, not just the meat in the middle of the plate. We chose chilli and sweet potato and dauphinoise. This clearly worried the waiter, who kept checking that we understood the sweet potato came with chilli.

Waiting for the food led to the tooth pick challenge: resisting the urge not to fiddle despite tiny little wood sticks that had been put next to the candle. Okay, I did set light to the very tip of one, but there was no fire alarm and none of the diners had their dinners ruined. The other challenge was not to stare at everyone else’s TOTALLY ENORMOUS DISHES of lobster and moules.

The lamb stuffed Indian flat bread with curried butter chicken starter arrived wafting coriander and line, but proved a bit greasy, with the word ‘bread’ better having been replaced with the word puff pastry to get the true impression.

IMG_0895-0.JPG

I’m sure the coleslaw was homemade, but it tasted just like the Tesco version. No kidding. I’d ordered thinking that it might be extra chunky or have some whole unground spices. Further pardoning of the chilli in the sweet potato came, with the offer to take it away and re-chop the chilli smaller. I am beginning to suspect some traumatic customer chilli based experience here. I do hope it was not too hot under the collar for all concerned.
br />
IMG_0899.JPG

The snapper was a bit too much butter and garlic sauced. It was a huge meaty fish and it was fun to mix up all the sauces from this, the dauphinoise and the horseradish from my husband’s sirloin.

IMG_0897.JPG
But it had to be said, good quality ingredients aside, I definitely lost out to my husband’s dish, which he describes as perfectly cooked for medium rare (hahaa, sorry I was just thinking of the alternative experience had at the abysmal Cau Restaurant.

IMG_0896.JPG
Rather worryingly, there is not even a dessert menu. On request, we were informed of 2 cheesecakes and chocolate fudge cake. I know that it is trendy to knock menus with lots of words (chips is chips! And diver caught scallops aren’t changed in taste by the scuba training), but some information does make a good dish- like a homemade dish – a bit more tempting. But without a menu… who was to know? We bought ice cream at the Co Op around the corner to take home instead.

Rare
Steak House
113 Trafalgar Rd, London, Royal Greenwich, Greater London SE10 9TS
020 8858 3334

IMG_0898.JPG