The Guildford Arms in Greenwich
Next time a relocation enters the mind, forget any desires to live within an easy commute to work and abandon harboured wishes of finding a place near a good school for your children; reject the lure of moving into a flat with a friendly landlord and don’t even consider choosing a spacious kitchen instead of this: the food of Guy Awford’s neighbourhood restaurant The Guildford Arms. It has everything your stomach wants. A five minute walk from Greenwich station, it educates you in the classics of France and the produce of Britain. Its menu reads like the contents of Larousse Gastronomique, blustering with pithiviers and fondants, bourguignons and ratatouilles but representing the landscape of the nation: Scottish scallops, Loch Duart salmon and Hereford beef. Heck, it’s even got a subterranean garden, a real oasis, sheltered from the Big Smoke. More than any of this, it is home to a kitchen that is in total command of its cuisine.
This is a place that understands its terroir. Staff enthuse about the local brewery Meantime’s excellent pale ale and the seasonality of the kitchen’s December menu. They bring you plates of perfectly pitched simplicity. Consider the appeal of Scallops, Jerusalem Artichoke and Leeks. The scallops, caramelised on the outside, translucent and moist in the middle, are cushioned by a silky smooth puree of jerusalem artichokes, seasoned with precision and a keen bedfellow of the scallop. The bullish smokiness of charred leeks seeks out and reveals the final element of the trinity: texture. It crunches with sense and noise and deliciousness.
By the time Beef Fillet, Carrot & Anise Puree and Bourguignon Sauce reaches the table, there’s little doubt Awford and his team are capable of assured excellence. As the blistered exterior of aged beef yields it exposes the majestic hunk of red flesh, blushing with embarrassment at its tenderness and depth of flavour. A carrot and anise puree happily sits there, purring with the numbing joys of winter spice. The bourguignon sauce only fails to deliver in quantity. Its lustre and classicalism deserves more than a scattered spooning: it needs a Cutty Sark-sized vessel.
True to seasonal form, desserts are all winter and cream, burst jeans and promises of New Year diets. Bread and Butter Pudding is heroic in its stodge and comes with an impeccably judged orange custard. Like the restaurant, it’s full of the scent of a higher level of home comfort and gastronomy. The Guildford Arms is the sort of neighbourhood restaurant so many of us look upon with jealousy. Take the bitter chill off this winter and head down there as soon as you can.
Photos: Daniela Valla
Food – 17/20
Drinks – 16/20
Service – 18/20
The Guildford Arms – 51/60
To book a table at The Guildford Arms, 55 Guildford Grove Greenwich SE10 8JY, call 02086916293 or visit here.