I hope that wasn’t fraudulent procurement of seating.

A review of Plum Tree Cafe,

They kept telling me to go to the Plum Tree cafe for brunch or cake. Then I was confused because others told me to only go to the plum Tree cafe for it’s evening switch to eastern food, which doesn’t appear advertised not the website. But the opportunity that came up was brunch. Our anniversary since you asked.

An eclectic warming interior of partial scaffolding invited us in, but despite a lot of seating… There were no places to sit. We were not allowed in the tree house. It’s that whole height prejudice all over again. Fortunately the Plumtree cafe can boast lovely customers, two of whom let us share their table. This was on the condition that we could confirm that we were nice. I said that we were. I hope that wasn’t fraudulent procurement of seating.

Interior at Plum Tree Cafe

Interior at Plum Tree Cafe

Now you may have noticed that despite being a coffee shop blogger, I am a little precious about some teas… Earl Grey being one. Which I’m sure all you cultivated people know should come without milk. (and don’t put the spoon bak in the sugar after stirring). So I was a little surprised to find myself being stared at in astonishment for ordering a London Fog. (Earl grey, steamed milk and vanilla) it had been so well branded and appetisingly described on the blackboard that the milk plus bergamot (ie citrus!!with milk!! Might curdle!!) combination had completely passed me by. Delicious too, really sort of warm and err… Foggy.

So to brunch- which must always be accompanied by cake if adequate quality is available. Nice menu. Hard to put a interesting twist on brunch sometimes, I think. A form of fry up with Buck’s Fizz doesn’t always justify the title. (Giraffe has some great options). Plumtree’s credentials were confirmed with avocodo on sour dough with lime and rocket. Appetising, refreshing, and dare I say it, healthy (although this adverb is always dependent on which health sect you adhere to.)

Avocado lime on sour dough

Avocado lime on sour dough

A crucial discovery was made on the ordering of this breakfast. As my husband went to pay, a lady holding a bowl of brown contents happened to comment that it was very important that the right ingredients featured in the cake I order to allow it to have the right moisture/crumbly texture. It boded well. We decided to take a long time over breakfast, so that we would be there when the cake had finished its baking.

Pretty interior

Pretty interior

While this initially appeared to be an advantage, it turned out to make cake-decision modelling even more complicated than normal. Normally I write off the chocolate cake early on. This time I was foiled because I knew with what passion it had been prepared. Emergency action was justified. We bought 3 cakes…. one for the road. Really, we had a long journey ahead to our spa hotel in, ahem, just down the A2.

Enjoyed the plum flapjack and both the chocolate cake and the ginger cake were bursting with their own flavours. Which is quite right too. This is what a real cake should do – like a Matisse painting – no pretending that big splash of blue is anything other than joyful unmitigated blue unspoilt by conventions of perspective. Or in this case, ginger. I think it compares.

241 Greenwich High Road, London, SE10 8NB

Matisse worthy cake. Note how it has been carefully cut for Shari g

Matisse worthy cake. Note how it has been carefully cut for Shari g

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“So you want drinks or not?” A Review of Sensuru, Greenwich

So… I asked twitter followers where was worth a dinner visit on the Woolwich Road, and one name came up and one name only Sensuru

To be very specific a high number of names came up but they were all variations of the same place which apparently has changed names a few times.

Seriously I am very interested in knowing what is great in the less celebrated EAST Greenwich before the gloss of the Lifestyle Quarter (with its posters of slim couples who’s hair always floats in a permanent breeze) sweeps it all away.

On a corner with a vivid neon sign, it is hard to miss Sensuru. We slipped in and found it very cosy. I’d actually read that it was ‘first date friendly’. Yes, I can guarantee I was sat discretely, but a rather long way from my husband. so I guess it all depends what sort of ‘first dates’ you guys get up to.

Interior of Sensuru

Interior of Sensuru

Service was hilarious. And it’s not often you can say that. Listen, it’s hard to review service. You winge, and you ruin your own night. I winge in blog form, and it gets you and me into a bad mood. And what sort of service is it that we really want went we winge about the existing service? Glossy upbeat antipodean sunshine? Because let’s face it, that goes hand in hand with chain-like, made on the assembly line food and interiors. Just what is it we want? Do we winge about our mates if they make us dinner and it’s a bit late? Admittedly we don’t pay them for the service, but the night isn’t ruined if they mess up the food.

Why don’t I start with what I got? Three offers of drinks in the space of 3 minutes from 3 different waitresses…. Followed very shortly by an older waitress- possibly the manager or owner saying “so you want drinks or not?” whilst removing the drinks menu and having us usher her back because the previous 3 requests had bullied us into making a snap decision: Japanese tea, sake and water. After this rush of attention, the option to order anything evaporated into the ether. In the end we gave up and we approached a waiter at the bar and asked to order.

So we sound like troublesome customers? I didn’t feel too bad as we were clearly better behaved than the table behind us, that was getting increasingly irate that the staff could not provide him with an iPhone charger as a side to the teriyaki chicken.

Drinks matter to me. Hard or soft stuff. And Japanese restaurants get this right for me. This particular presentation of sake works. That white sphere in the middle is a separate item full of ice. Boring glass though, right?

Sake flask

Sake flask

The Japanese tea came in petite ceramic cups. That’s the main reason for ordering Japanese tea, shortly followed by the fact it just makes you feel warm and healthy.

We’re still yet to be converted to the concept that we should willingly part cash in exchange for sushi (which is cold and only slightly redeemed by wasabi and pickled ginger). I like to go out for a hot meal, so we rushed to the grills section, and the food boxes, with fried bits as starters. Once you were at the grilled section, there were too many nice sounding sauces and bases to be weighed up against each other.

Great tempura bits and nice sauce… Yet again can’t be 100% sure what was within the batter. On occasion prawn, and maybe pumpkin. I am never sure of the motivation behind this combination is cost or err…. health. This recipe can fail with the vegetable making the batter soggy. Here it didn’t.

Tempura

Tempura

More sake. We were offered a top up of tea too, but the waitress didn’t wait for the answer so I never got it.

The grilled beef on garlic and spices was so so and the teriyaki chicken box was better. We put them in the middle of the table and ahead to assist In a more equitable distribution of flavour. As you can see, there is a 3rd dish that has totally escaped my memory. You’ll have to judge its merits on its looks. (Not something I would normally advocate – think of kiwi fruit, for instance).

Rice box and chicken teriyaki

Rice box and chicken teriyaki

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To entertain us throughout the meal, we had the widescreen TV presenting pictures of the meals like a catwalk show. No music though. I am disappointed. I suppose it’s hard to decide what music should accompany the dance of the sashimi.

Sensuru
139 Woolwich Road
Greenwich
SE10 0RG

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Walking and Eating is Bad on Many Many Counts

Thameside food stalls in Greenwich

I would have loved to do my duty by you and checked the food at ALL of the Cutty Sark food stalls (which I believe will reman until the tall ships and their fireworks arrive) but even having cycled to London Bridge on Monday, there was not enough space in my stomach for burgers, Peruvian delights and crepes.

So I settled on the key highlights – selected by smell: fudge (baileys- a decision made easier by the fact that they were packing up and all other good choices were disappearing in front of my eyes), an unnamed tent frying up noodles and garlic prawns, and the lemonade tent.

In genuine street food style, there was no attempt at serving what might constitute a meal (protein carb and veg) so one of us bought garlic prawns and the other the soy noodles. We drank fresh lemonade from the separate lemonade stall for our vegetable whilst sitting on the steps in front of the Cutty Sark. (The attractions of street food aside, walking and eating is bad on many many counts: mess, indigestion, missing our on the actual taste due to doing other stuff, dropping food.) This included ten enormous garlicky prawns that could not be stopped eating and the tastiest savoury noodles ever.

I recommend all three stalls. Get there quick before they close at the end of the week.

The lemonade came stuffed with ice, ginger or mint. Very refreshing- you get flavour in the melted ice. Why did anyone in this country ever use dried mint when the fresh version is so plentiful?

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Promises Seafood and Quaintness, and Cycle Paths, A Review of the Cutty Sark Pub

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A Review of the Cutty Sark Pub, Greenwich

Quite some distance from the actual Cutty Sark tea clipper is the Cutty Sark pub, overlooking the bleaker Thames views (including the O2 but amongst the nautical cottages like a village corner tucked away from the sugar factory and mobile phone factory (and Paul Rhode’s bakery where they do the real actual cooking stuff that appears in their coffee shop). This feels more Dickensian and Whistler-en than the Trafalgar that famously hosted one of Dicken’s character’s weddings. (But did not host my wedding due to the terrible state of it when we came to view the ballroom).

It also promises seafood and quaintness, and cycle paths, and a huge anchor sculpture. Having returned from a holiday in a French fishing village, this was going to be my ‘pretend I am still on holiday’ meal. It was clam linguine advertised on the board outside that closed the deal, sounding like a light lunch that I may or may not precede with lighty battered monk fish cheeks.

The interior is well suited to the exterior. Tastefully reminiscent of all things Georgian and full of bar snacks that looked like canon balls (scotch eggs and pies.) No insult in the words cannon balls in this context.

The menu looked good too. I was pleased to see Billingsgate fish pie. It would have been a terrible oversight to serve fish quite so close to such a famous fish market and not even try. And it sources its bread from Paul Rhode’s bakery, which must save it a fortune in delivery costs. Dressed crab, rock oysters and other fishy specials sat happily next to burgers.

It was just a pity that the food did not remotely live up to the context.

The ‘lightly battered monkfish’ was in layers of batter thicker than the monkfish itself, and as a starter, this grease level detracted from us even desiring a main course. The main courses themselves were not too bad. Posh chicken Kiev with celeriac mash and truffle oil was actually pretty decent which we hoped would make up for the disappointment.

 

Lightly? battered monkfish

Lightly? battered monkfish

But when we got to the desserts, it was the same again. The rhubarb fool arrived unmixed, actually being rhubarb compote with thin layer of cream on top, although the cinnamon crisp went down well. And the enjoyable Bakewell tart arrived with clotted cream instead of the listed clotted cream ice cream. Is that a big deal? Well you tell me. I think it is a big deal in a restaurant that asserts it is passionate about food, because this would have meant that the combinations, textures and hot/cold sensations should have been designed with the ultimate in mind. And while the Cutty Sark Tavern did not make these claims so much as some other culprits, the menu and environment did imply it.

Clotted Cream

Clotted Cream

I have to tell you, this really hurts. Everything about the pub was perfect, except the delivery. Wistful river gazing, half a pint of beer, fireplace (summertime- no idea if it was real) appetising sounding-menu, Georgian authenticity, charming staff.
But food cooked without passion.

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Toys where child is encouraged to bash pegs with a hammer, and a plentiful supply of children

Delicious brownie

Delicious brownie

A review of Pistachios at the Pleasuance, SE10

It seemed a good idea to visit Pistachio’s in the park because the sun was out and there is a lot to love about Pistachio’s: the scruffiness, the profusion of local adds for nannies and personal trainers, and mountains of business cards.

I’m also very taken with the tea towel of 1940 map of Greenwich (also seen in Blackheath Cooks) and actually has my house on it.

Hanging maps of Greenwich/Blackheath

Hanging maps of Greenwich/Blackheath

The clutter of Pistachio’s extends to the noise levels. It was a mistake on my part to take my blackberry in the hope of a change in scenery to dial into a meeting. If you are intending to do the same, you should know that Pistachio’s have the sort of toys where child is encouraged to bash pegs into a piece of wood with a hammer, and a plentiful supply of children to bash them. And yell at the same time. It must be a joyful experience. Bash, then yell. Yell then bash. Who knows perhaps Mozart started the same way. Or maybe just carpenters.

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I have not yet been fired though.

And so to food. It’s 50/50 I’m afraid.

This nut brownie was delicious and melt in the mouth. Something that brownies frequently fail to do. My guess is that it was probably based on finely chopped nuts rather than flour to achieve this.

However the flapjack was an insult to all flapjacks. There is dispute in my household as to whether a flapjack should be a gooey crumble only, or a good crumble offset by a crunch top. This flapjack failed on both levels. It was dry and not even slightly crunchy. Whoever made this flapjack did not care, had no passion and should take up tile making.

Honestly, I do actually like the Pistachio’s experience when without my blackberry. It’s colourful and noisy.

Chevening Rd,
London SE10 0LB
020 8853 4675

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“We logged high levels of aubergine all over the menu,” A Review of Bianco 43

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There are two Bianco43’s in Greenwich. This has been confusing me since an Italian friend suggested meeting there (before deciding she was actually gluten intolerant) and I was intrigued as to how we could fit in at the takeaway only Bianco 43 that I knew of in Lassel Street. This was actually a bit daft of me, because Bianco 43 the restaurant is kind of hard to miss on Greenwich Church Street near the Cutty Sark (number 43 in keeping with Napoli traditions of restaurant naming).

We sailed in on a Monday evening, expecting dead quiet, and were genuinely impressed to find it pretty full at such an antisocial time. The beachcomber interior of white walls and pale wood was glowing in the sunny evening and we sat upstairs to analyse the menu.

We logged high levels of aubergine all over the menu (the desserts were on a different page) Now it has taken me a long time to appreciate aubergine. I have even goaded Yotam Ottolenghi into taking the subject up with me on twitter. (Oops, is that a name on the floor?) But just lately I have been converted. Smokey deep and comforting aubergine; relatively uncelebrated, lush. So high aubergine readings are a good thing

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I went for fried smoked cheese with sweet and sour aubergine (scamorza alla piastra con caponata siciliana in agrodolce- I did not order it in Italian.) which was delicious, two smokey flavours together.

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But I should have thought ahead. Pizza’s were split by pomodoro (tomato sauce based) and bianche (not tomato sauce based). Pizza is always tomato based, I thought- I will have bianche. Foolish. This meant even more cheese, albeit with small studs of basil embedded in it. Both pizzas came in authentically rough ovals, oozing with giant pizza bubbles. I bet you won’t find bubbles like that in vision express*. I wish there had been more green stuff. More something not cheese. I struggled. I swapped a slice with my husband. His capricciosa was full of deep flavours. It was loaded with convincing mole hills of ham offset with artichoke and olive, real olives with real stones. I tasted my husband’s valpolicella (which went way better with my pizza than his because it cut through the oil, but did he offer to drive? Did he?) but after cheese for starter too… there was no way that so much cheese could be finished in one night.

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A distraught waitress ran over to check if everything was ok, and seemed only too pleased to respond with an offer of boxes to take away. I can’t decide if we started a trend here, or whether it was a sign of belt-tightening times, but many boxes followed ours. (It was great cold the next day, by the way).

The other dish on the table was superior calamari. Only recently have I realised that not all calamari is made equal, which is strange for something apparently so simple. This dish was unusual in not being remotely rubbery and avoided a flaw i have recently begun to notice of calamari being overly deep fried. It came with a side of deep fried courgette. I am less keen on this addition. I can also vouch that it was not rubbery… But it would be kind of strange if courgette were rubbery.

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It was a bit embarrassing to ask for the dessert menu after the box incident, but hey it was dessert, we got over it. The waitress didn’t bat an eyelid. Although we were given two knives and one spoon for the 2 desserts, no doubt to make us feel less embarrassed by our faux pas. The inability to picture some of the desserts held us back. Could chocolate cream cake outweigh my previous chocolate cake disappointments? Was the tiramisu the way I like it? We chose well, readers. Very very well. The owner flashed a smug smile at the choice of cannolo, sweet ricotta in deep fried pastry with a grainy texture and crunch to the pastry, and fruit filled sorbert (sic) – which turned out to be fruit with sorbet in and not a wounded Albert with lots of fruit inside. FFS was lemon sorbet- proper tart, mango sorbet in lime – mmm and spectacular walnut sorbet in a walnut shell. Shipped in from Naples, so the owner told us.

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Coffee? I’m starting to feel the pressure. How many times can I describe really good coffee? It was really good coffee. Smooth, flavoursome.

Bianco 43 covered the cost of this meal. I am sure I saw a skip in my husband’s step as we left.

* yes. I know. It was deliberate.

43 Greenwich Church St, London
020 8858 2668

The Turkish Coffee Arrived and it was not Nescafe, A Review if Helva in Greenwich

Helva Interior

Helva Interior

There’s nothing like Meze. It solves all of your menu woes… You don’t have to pick, just have a bit of everything. The Meze however at Helva was only of starters, cruelly evading the exciting grills also on the menu, so we did what every self respecting food fan does, and ordered the mixed grill too. The waitress looked confused and after a pause asked us if we wanted both at the same time. Then she pulled over an extra table, so that she would have room for all the Meze.

2 tables of Mexe

2 tables of Mexe

Personally, I think that without the deep fried stuff… Calamari, whitebait, this would not have been such a difficult job to eat in its entirety. Deep fried halloumi could stay though. This was one of the best specimens I have tried, lightly herbed and with lemon juice. Also exceptional was the flavour of the garlic mushrooms and the bread so light it was inline savoury brioche- as if it had been steamed in the cooking. The lahmacun, mince sauce on flat bread was also finished pretty quick. The humous was not as good as the one that I made (on the advice of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem). My husband said this before I did, btw.

Light Turkish bread

Light Turkish bread

The iskender, the mixed grill, was exactly what grills should be, and in this instance came with yogurt, butter and bread sauce. Why would that taste so good? Have i ever served cornflakes and milk and Rice Krispie sauce with my grills? No. But after tasting this combination, maybe i should. The cankaya- (turkish wine) however was nothing much… But given the brave decision of the menu not to have a single Sauvignon blanc, I gave it a shot.

Iskender

Iskender

We did a respectable job of finishing dinner. I say respectable, although there was an almost indecent speed of completion in our part. Just a bit of whitebait and 2 slices of bread remained. It was like the loaves and fishes in reverse.
We didn’t even have the manners to decline the dessert menu. (Actually these were just thrust upon us, depriving us of the chance to make jokes a out how greedy we were being and thus divert from the fact that we were being greedy).

My oh so noble attempts to remain authentic led me to a turkish dessert and a turkish coffee. The Helva arrived looking unexpectedly like polenta and with very little taste of sesame. I was quite taken aback by how different it was from every other helva experience have ever had – even in Turkey, and even now i am wondering if it was an elaborate ruse to assess whether i knew anything about turkish cuisine and hence pass off the nescafe as turkish coffee.

My husband ordered only ice cream and was disappointed by the neopoliatan options available. We think he offended them with his lack of turkish attempts, because while mine was sparkling with hundreds and thousands, this was what arrived for him

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He went on to make a Home made (table-based) affogato

The Turkish coffee arrived and it was not nescafe. It had the sand like texture and deep flavour that turkish coffee always has, but sadly far too much sugar than was drinkable after such a huge meal.

27-31 Greenwich Church St, London
020 8858 8658

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.

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