Greenwich is a great area of London which is definitely on the rise. With affordable (ish – very ish) housing (again, ish), nice views over London and a chilled out vibe compared to the manic centre, it's utterly desirable. The food scene there is burgeoning and already there are some good spots, worth making a trip out there for. One such place is Upstairs at The Guildford Arms. It's serving fine dining food with a very strong nod to the natural world, with foraged ingredients from a close radius to London heavily featured. The 5 course tasting menu is a steal at £40, with a wine flight at an extra £22.
I went before Christmas and was impressed with the food. The decor not so much – some of it is fine but much of the upstairs space needs a style overhaul. On the positive side, the food is very good and the price is right.
First up and my stand out dish of the whole menu – a highly textured salad of kale with truffle and salty cheese. Whilst you'll rarely find me raving about a kale salad, this one is worth every rant (and every rave too). The kale had been dehydrated, giving it a wonderful crisp, flaky texture, akin to seaweed at a Chinese restaurant. This paired with salty cheese and rich, creamy blobs of truffled something was just utterly perfect. I can't think how this dish could have been improved, and I think about it even now, a couple of months after eating it.
Another vegetarian starter of red peppers with green tomato also impressed, but not nearly as much as the kale. A fish course followed, proving more controversial with its inclusion of sea buck thorn on the plate. If you thought sour chewy sweets were intense, try sea buck thorn. This tiny orange berry packs a puckering punch, and I'm not sure the mackerel it was paired with could stand up.
The meat dishes pleased more, with a plate of partridge with parsnip, chanterelles and sprout shoots, with a rich partridge sauce. The parsnip puree here was gloriously smooth, game breasts juicy and the sauce holding everything together. A nice plate. Venison with berries, another dish, was tasty also, but less so than the partridge.
Dessert brought me a very naughty Cobham cheese with truffle honey and a crisp bread. I've loved truffle honey for years and it pairs perfectly with salty cheese and blues. The cobham cheese was a new one to me and I'll be sure to look out for it again. Although on the plate it looked tiny, scarce larger than a 50p coin and dismaying to my greedy eyes, it was seriously rich.
I really enjoyed Upstairs at the Guildford Arms. It's exciting to see tasting menus like this available at this price and quality in London and it is certainly worth the trip out to try it. I hope it stays afloat – the streets around it didn't seem thriving and the Upstairs dining option isn't well signed, compared to the downstairs pub restaurant. They'll struggle with footfall without some serious advertising. Speaking of which, I'll hit publish on this blog now. If you're reading this and nodding along, why not give them a call. I'd be surprised if you didn't like it.
he Guildford Arms, 55 Guildford Grove, London, SE10 8JY020 8691 6293