The former Goldsmith's Tavern is set to reopen on Monday in its new incarnation, complete with original moniker, as the New Cross House. From the inside, the only indication that this is the same pub is the fact that the rather distinctive windows at the front remain, and the bar is in the same place. All other remnants of the dark, dingy and dirty interior have been entirely swept away.
I know from my own student days that dark, dingy and dirty can sometimes be the hallmarks of a great pub, and some may mourn the loss of the Goldsmiths Tavern, but New Cross still has plenty of other pubs to fill that particular void.
At a sneak preview last night, a few lucky folk got the chance to view the new interior, try out the ales and food, and chat to the people involved about the refurb and plans for the future.
The interior is huge - the entire ground floor has been opened up into the former back room, with a range of seating including raised booths along the side wall interspersed with smaller two and four-seater tables, banquettes, bar stools and some of those scary high tables that I always try and avoid because I don't think they combine very well with alcohol!
The back room has been given new life with two enormous skylights which improve the atmosphere no end. The bar seating extends around the large pizza oven which is built out from the kitchen area at the back, offering a tempting view of those bubbling pizzas.
Original tiling at the front of the room was used to create wallpaper which has been applied very effectively throughout the entire bar, giving it a lovely Victorian feel which combines nicely with the dark wooden bar and mirrored bar shelving.
The yard area outside is the real revelation - what used to be a scruffy shed with uneven concrete flooring and a few ramshackle picnic tables has been transformed into a den-like barn. On the ground floor is a wood-burning stove surrounded by sofas, shabby-chic style tables and chairs, and walls covered with big mirrors, and upstairs is more seating with views over the yard, table football and large lampshades adding a touch of glamour. The building is covered in ivy, giving it even more visual appeal.
Four real ales were on offer - Weasel and Bonobo from the Florence microbrewery, which is part of the Capital Pub Company - along with a couple of great seasonal ales: Adnams Mayday beer, and a rather fine Atlantic IPA from Sharps. I'll be more than happy if they keep up this kind of quality and range.
Among the range of lagers was Meantime's own London Lager, which seemed to go down well with those who like their continental-style beers.
Guests got to try a few examples of some of the menu items - pizzas were tasty with good quality toppings and had thin and crusty bases and the dal was just the right consistency with a good strong spicy punch. The breaded halloumi sticks were rather bland and too thick, although the cauliflower and parmesan dip made for an interesting combination.
The menu promises an excellent choice - from foot-long hotdogs with fried onions and fries (£6) to whole gilt head bream with chilli, ginger, sesame, lemongrass and asian slaw (£11.50) with plenty in between. A selection of pizzas is on offer, all of which can be ordered to take away, and there is an impressive range of veggie options - roasted aubergines with chickpeas, mozzarella and parmesan; veggie shepherds pie with sweet potato mash; red bean & beetroot burger with goats cheese in a sesame bun with fries; roasted squash stuffed with rice, pinenuts, cumin, coriander, tomato and yogurt. My mouth is watering right now. Sunday roasts will also be starting up in due course.
I can't help thinking Capital Pub Company has set itself quite a challenge with the New Cross House - as I keep mentioning, it's a huge pub and they are going to have to attract a large number of regular diners to repay what must have been quite a costly refit. In East Dulwich this would take considerable work - in New Cross, not regarded as a destination for an evening out by many folk in south east London - they are going to have to lure spenders in from Brockley, Greenwich and beyond.
As far as Deptford goes I think it's a fantastic addition to pub dining in the area and wish the place every success. We already have the Royal Albert which is a great place for beers and grub, and the Dog & Bell which holds its own in terms of beer and certainly has the best prices in the area. The New Cross House will bring greater choice, and a welcome bit of competition so they can keep each other on their toes - great news for us punters.
The New Cross House
316 New Cross Road,