Hordes of visitors flock to Greenwich each year and its food scene has garnered an unfair reputation for unimaginative fare and chain restaurants. But, along with nearby Blackheath, both these south London neighbourhoods have a smattering of good places to dine if you know where to look.
Buenos Aires Café
There are Buenos Aires Cafes in both Blackheath and Greenwich, owned and run by a local family team. The Greenwich branch has tables overlooking busy Greenwich centre and at the back there’s a brighter exposed brick-walled conservatory area with a garden terrace beyond.
Traditional Argentinian music playing in the background sets the scene for a culinary feast. The chorizo starter (£5.50), home made from a traditional Argentinian recipe, is wonderfully rich, and the morcilla (£5.50), a Spanish black pudding with fresh chimichurri sauce is succulent and tender while the empanada de espinacas (£4.25) with spinach, goat’s cheese and onion will keep the non meat eaters among you very happy indeed.
The Argentinian steaks (from £15.95) are, unsurprisingly, tender and tasty, and non-meat eaters have a choice of pizza and pasta dishes (55% of Argentinians are Italian in origin) and substantial starters. Desserts include Argeninian favourites, such as Budin de pan con dulce de leche (£6.95), a homemade bread pudding, while the drinks menu has an Argentinian slant too, with a good choice of wines and other choices such as Fernet Branca and coke (£7.50), Argentina’s favourite aperitif.
15 Nelson Road, Greenwich SE10 9JB; 020 8858 9172; buenosairescafe.co.uk
Copper and Ink
Founded in December 2018 by former BBC MasterChef finalist Tony Rodd and freelance food writer and gluten-free baker Becky Cummings, Copper and Ink describes itself as a modern British restaurant with influences from classic French and Scandinavian cuisine. As well as a monthly changing à la carte menu, this Blackheath Village restaurant has a five course taster menu, with vegetarian and pescatarian options. It changes monthly also, which encourages diners to return regularly.
Each dish has a completely different style and is quite down to earth rather than ornate and pretentious. Although the fermented tomato salad, tomato consommé and lovage pesto I tried was a tad underwhelming, the tuna tartare and spicy Iberico presa, spare ribs, slaw and hasselback potatoes better presented the individuality of Tony’s dishes. Coupled with the two puddings, white chocolate sponge with lemon curd yoghurt and raspberry sorbet, and baked peach cheesecake, this taster menu did seem good value at £40.
5 Lee Road, Blackheath SE3 9RQ; 020 3941 9337; copperandink.com
Rivington, in the heart of Greenwich centre, is part of the Caprice family, home of the likes of J. Sheekey and The Ivy, so they clearly know a thing or two about how to knock up a decent restaurant. It’s populated by an efficient and friendly staff, headed by manager Andrei Oltean.
Rivington is thankfully a bit easier to get into than (the original) Ivy and your only nightmare will be what gin to choose as an aperitiv, as there are currently 275 of them in-house. On top of that, you have to wade through around 20 tonic waters, sours and Campari bitters. It’s enough to drive you to drink.
A Brocard Petit-Chablis (£7, 125ml) went perfectly with the dressed crab (£15.75), which was a very generous portion, and came with a delicious, tangy lemon mayonnaise.
Now, I’m pretty skeptical about menus with fresh fish items and when I chose the sea bass with capers, lemon butter and heritage potatoes (£18.75) I feared I’d get a couple of fillets straight out of a supermarket plastic pouch. However, the fish was fantastically fresh and tender and tasted like it really was the catch of the day.
178 Greenwich High Road, Greenwich SE10 8NN; 020 8293 9270; rivingtongreenwich.co.uk
This area has a good choice of Indian restaurants, and this one, which also specialises in Nepalese cuisine, is one of the best. Situated in the heart of Blackheath Village overlooking a pretty patch of green, it’s bright and airy and offers traditional dishes with a modern twist. For example, as a starter, the Nepali Choyla (£7.50), a dish originating from Katmandu, is a riot of textures, with crunchy, crispy rice, barbecued marinated lamb and a hotch potch of fenugreek seeds and spices. The Lakeside Fish (£12.95) is a delicious and delicately spiced concoction of marinated fish pan fried with crushed mustard, lemon and ginger, a recipe from Pakahara in Nepal.
41 Montpelier Vale, Blackheath SE3 0TJ; 020 8852 7872; everestinn.co.uk
Artis is tucked down a side street in the heart of Blackheath Village and so is not as well known as it deserves to be. It is centred around a huge room seating 100, plus a cocktail bar area with a selection of brightly coloured bottles lit against big windows behind. The deep dark green walls, mirrors, bold modern pictures and upbeat funk playing in the background gives a nightclub vibe to a restaurant rather untypical for the area.
The menu has a gastropub feel and the food is good: a spicy dish of king prawns pan-fried with chilli and garlic on foccacia (£9), an Angus sirloin steak with a refreshingly delicate green pepper sauce (£19) and a rich and very moreish dessert consisting of a crumbly brownie, strawberries and salted caramel ice cream (£7) makes this a failsafe choice for an evening meal in the East.
1 Lawn Terrace, Blackheath, SE3 9LJ; 020 8852 0700; artisblackheath.co.uk
In addition to these, two of the area’s most impressive restaurants, Craft (craft-london.co.uk), by the O2 and The Guildford Arms (theguildfordarms.co.uk), are currently being refurbished, but when they reopen soon they will no doubt be very much worth a visit too.