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RESTAURANT REVIEW: UPSTAIRS AT THE GUILDFORD ARMS

Victoria Purcell discovers a restaurant worthy of a Michelin-star in Greenwich, just head Upstairs…  

Amazing things are happening at Upstairs at The Guildford Arms in Greenwich. As well as a lovely pub-dining environment and a lush beer garden, there’s now a fine dining restaurant on the first floor, the likes of which you won’t find elsewhere in Greenwich. The seasonal menu is based on the best produce available that day, sourced from carefully selected suppliers, foragers and game shooters in Kent. The kitchen, led by chef Simon Wills, who trained in France and has worked at a litany of Michelin-starred eateries, also smokes its own fish, grows its own herbs and bakes delicious breads and focaccia.

We arrived on a Friday evening as the restaurant was starting to fill up. The friendly, attentive staff are as quick to explain the finer points of the menu as they are to recommend a wine match. Although, after a long day, we’d picked out a Saladini Pilastri Falerio dei Colli Ascolani (a full-bodied, elegant blend of Trebbiano, Passerina and Pecorino) before we’d even thought about the food. Eventually, I went for a starter of house-smoked halibut, thinly sliced and delicate, served with sea buckthorn-pickled carrots and a light, homemade horseradish, while my friend had a colourful plate of thinly sliced beets and apple with William Heaps soft cheese, rye and sorrel.

For the main course, I ordered diver-caught scallops – fresh, delicious and meaty – served with a broad bean-top and seaweed salad and Japanese artichokes. The scallops were topped with finger lime, teeny balls that burst in sharp, citrusy rush of flavour. Fantastic. My friend had the beef, served in two cuts – beef cheek and sirloin – that was pink, tender and delicious. It came served with a subtly house-smoked mash, a lovely touch, alongside grilled kale and parsley.

For dessert I had rhubarb parfait (with a secret liquorice centre) dusted with liquorice powder and served with blood orange jelly, smatterings of crunchy gingerbread and blood orange slices. Another beautiful medley of colour and texture. My friend, quite the chocoholic, ordered the malt ice cream with a warm chocolate mousse, an utterly fabulous salted butterscotch and sliced cobnuts. She was a very happy girl indeed.

Everything about this meal, from the brilliant staff to the presentation, the flavour pairings, the textures and the hidden surprises on each dish, is wonderful. It’s West End dining in Guildford Grove, and is just what Greenwich has been crying out for.

Upstairs at The Guildford Arms, 55 Guildford Grove, Greenwich SE10 8JY; 020 8691 6293; theguildfordarms.co.uk

THE KNOWLEDGE

Cost…
Three courses for two, excluding drinks, £80

Good for…
Fine dining without the travel

What to eat…
The menu is small and seasonal, so do visit regularly

What to know…
The wine list is as good as the food – ask the staff to recommend a good match

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