An impromptu social gathering last night saw myself, the Geezer and a friend trying out the (confusingly new) Old Brewery which opened recently in Greenwich.
I liked the look of the menu, and so we decided to eat in the restaurant (they also do bar food) after first having a beer in the garden. The bar and garden have got to be the best kept secret in Greenwich, certainly on a Tuesday night and perhaps mainly because word hasn't spread far yet.
There are lots of tables in the walled and gravelled garden at the end of the bar - it's nicely protected from the roar of the one-way system by a bit of distance and a large wall, and it was buzzing but far from crowded when we got there in the early evening.
I was happy to see that as well as a bar's length of taps with Meantime beers on sale, they also had three hand pumps with guest ales, one of which was the reliably tasty Harvey's Sussex Ale, as well as a vast range of bottled beers. I can appreciate the quality of the beers that Meantime Brewery makes, but I've not yet found one that I really like - I know lager drinkers who rate them highly but I don't find any of their ales particularly moreish so I was glad to have the choice of the guest beers.
Before long we went to take our table in the restaurant and my friend cast his critical eye over the interior decor. The vats that line one wall and the 'wave' of empty bottles that hangs over one side of the room were given the seal of approval, along with the colour scheme and furniture. But we were rather spooked by the other end of the room which looked more like a church hall - curtains hanging round the wall and a strange huddle of furniture. Luckily I was seated facing the vats.
It was pretty lively even for a Tuesday night, a good level of noise and enough customers to create a good atmosphere.
So what about the food? The menu offered a good mix of British staples and some tasty-sounding puddings. We decided to forgo the starters and go straight into mains. The 'fillets of Dorset plaice with potato & spring onion hash, razor clam, caper & parsley butter' were tasty but I was rather disappointed by the miniscule amount of razor clam. At first I thought they'd forgotten to put it on, then noticed that the half shell of the razor clam that was perched cheekily on the side of the plate was scattered with some tiny slivers of sliced clam. Tasty but all too fleeting. The fish was rather dry, and the potato cake (it was more potato cake than rosti) was ok but nothing special. Hardly any parsley butter had made it to the plate.
The steaks (one medium, one medium rare) were declared very tasty, but again the chips disappointed, looking as if they had come from the chipper next Peter de Wit's cafe (although the Geezer grudgingly admitted that they tasted 'a bit better' than that).
Sides of green beans and roasted squash were poles apart. The beans were very tasty, the squash was anything but. For a start I don't believe it was roasted at all - steamed perhaps, but certainly not roasted. The 'sage butter' again was notable by its absence, the only sign of it being a couple of green specks sticking to the steamed squash. Perhaps they were having a butter crisis in the kitchen?
Luckily the desserts cheered us up and sent us home a bit happier. I can't remember how mine was described and it's not on the menu on the website, but it was basically a piece of moist, gingery caramelly cake with a caramel sauce and some pouring cream. A whole jug of pouring cream, to be precise. I do prefer to pour my own cream on to puddings - and to have a liberal supply so that I can pour my own cream on repeatedly!
But the Geezer's hot chocolate fondant with Jersey ice cream caused a serious case of plate envy among myself and my friend. I'm not crazy about chocolate - I don't mind it but would rather have a hunk of cheese - but this just looked seriously good. And we didn't get offered a taste either, the Geezer managed to hog it all for himself, which says a lot about the quality!
The bill came to about £30 a head including service, and that also included a pint of beer each. I won't be rushing back to eat there, although it's definitely a good place for a drink and perhaps a bar meal if you are in Greenwich.