Fried bits that weren’t calamari

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So this is a quick review of the Bianco43 that has opened in Blackheath in the venue of Dooooom, from who’s opening night we have recently attended.

Now I was worried for Bianco 43. If you see my review of ‘Venice‘, the previous resident of the ex-Natwest Bank, the location seems impossible to fix up into anything with a semblance of sophistication.

But the prettiness of Greenwich’s Bianco 43 has been effectively transposed to Blackheath in all its relaxed beachcomber glory.

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So the opening night was buffet food.. But it was Buffett food that excelled any buffet food to date. It was nice to try out the menu options other than the pizza. There was glorious rich aubergine (link), slices of pecorino, and minature fried pizzas. The real life pizza was good too. Take a look at this areal photo of it coming out of the coals. (If you can make it out in the bad iPhone picture!)

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There was perfect calamari (as noted in the review of the Greenwich location) and other fried bits, tiny little fried balls. Not idea what they were, but very moreish with the prosecco.

The owners are also exceptionally attentive. Massimo went around to meet all his guests table by table, decided to sit with me while my husband was at the bar and then when he decided that my husband wasn’t being served quickly enough had me point him out from the balcony. He went downstairs to tell the barman that he must serve this man as he had a wife sitting alone. I don’t think that this was about how bad my company was… there was a language barrier. (I should note that Massimo would not have know. I am a local blogger).

In summary, thanks to Bianco 43 for the invite and I am definitely a fan.
BIANCO43 BLACKHEATH
1-3 LEE ROAD
SE3 9RQ

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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

“Next Wimbledon I’ll be stocking up on the pesto” a Review of Zero Degrees in Blackheath

A review of 0 degrees, A restaurant and bar in Blackheath SE3

I have an issue with Zero Degrees (yes, it’s going to be one of those days). I am not 100% sure about these fusion menu pizzas: sweet sauces on pizza dough for mains. There are many successful fusion restaurants in the world, but they fuse the menu, not the dishes. For your information: Peking duck in plum sauce belongs on pancakes, not pizzas.

I’m so glad to get that off my chest.

The brewery at zero degrees

The brewery at zero degrees

I was persuaded to give it another chance the other day. After all it’s headline is microbrewery which is actually quite fun. So I went in muttering, “Peking duck pizza- huh?” just quietly enough that the staff wouldn’t spit in my food. Zero does in fact have very friendly staff, they who attentively found a spot away from the children who were there early evening and managed to stop me wandering into a beer VAT on the way to the toilet.

Nice toilets, by the way. Got Dyson hand driers. No I don’t have a picture. Taking a camera to the toilet is odd.

Back at the menus, I advised everyone not to order sweet pizza. They rolled their eyes, and made noises about the peri peri and Thai chicken pizzas. I made scathing noises back. I’ve said how I feel and I don’t want to talk about anymore. In the end a Carne Asana pizza was settled upon.

I had a simple mozzarella and tomato gnocchi. The kitchen must have choked on their over-worked pizzas. Ha! I let then put on black pepper and discovered that there was quite a depth of favour in the sauce. In a good way. It was an extremely rewarding eat.

Tomato Gnocci at Zero Degrees

Tomato Gnocci at Zero Degrees

Then I tasted the Carne Asada. That was good. It was unusual enough for me to retract my scathing noises: wood smoked rump streak, chillies, smoked cheeses, coriander, red onion, avocado salsa.

Pizza at Zero Degrees

Pizza at Zero Degrees

Ok, I have got to say, it was a master piece of a pizza. A touch of heat from chillies, cold from the coriander and flavour, just pure flavour from the rest. Bring on the rice-pudding pizza, Zero Degrees pizzas are fabulous. They really know how to differentiate.

The brewery at zero degrees

And so to the micro-brewery. I liked my beer. Now I’m going to have to cater for the beer-geeks and admit I am not a regular beer taster. But the wheat beer hit the mark, suitably complicated with a mild astringency and a golden glow.. Or was that me glowing after the beer?

I couldn’t take iPhone pictures of the beer in this light, so you’re just going to close your eyes and imagine. (but somehow keep reading). I do find Zero on the dark and loud side, an effect that it exacerbated by the stainless steel interior.

Zero was summed up by the last cocktail on the table. A basil grande, which I believe is unique to Zero? Now, ‘the Apprentice’ and the broadsheets assure me that strawberry and basil, the theme of this drink, this is a dynamic combination. I just didn’t believe them until this cocktail, which was rewardingly sweet and refreshing.

Yep be assured, next Wimbledon I’ll be stocking up on the pesto.

29/31 MONTPELIER VALE
BLACKHEATH
LONDON. SE3 0TJ