Victoria Purcell dines at The Piano Restaurant at The North Pole in Greenwich and finds classic dishes done good…
Those of a delicate disposition, look away now… I ordered the foie gras. It was delicious. I feel terrible.
It’s a rare sight on menus these days, and I have a feeling it won’t be long before it’s gone for good. So I ordered it. Just this one last time, then I think I’m going to have to back away from the controversial food – even if it is a generous slice of it served up with toasted brioche and a sharp, contrasting mango and grape chutney – and lay it to rest as a rich, glorious, indulgent memory.
I offered some to my friend, a huge pâté lover, but he refused, because he has a stronger moral compass than me. Instead, he was busy devouring his beautifully presented breaded goat’s cheese, served with an apple and fennel salad and drizzled with a honey and mustard dressing.
It’s a while since I’ve dined at the Piano Restaurant at North Pole on Greenwich High Road. The place is
a bit of a wonderland, with a ground-floor bar, pretty outdoor shisha lounge to the rear and a basement club, the South Pole, where those who haven’t just devoured a three-course meal dance the night away. It’s poles apart (forgive me) from its first-floor sister venue.
Up here it’s beautiful, calm and sophisticated, with white linen tablecloths, chandeliers, exposed brickwork and iconic pictures of the Ratpack on the walls. There’s a baby grand piano in the corner, where the resident pianist works his magic, and a big neon Moët sign behind the bar indicates that this is special-occasion dining.
We ordered a bottle of the Beyerskloof Pinotage – South Africa’s most popular Pinotage – and admired its luscious legs as we geared up for the main course. I had the pan-fried fillet of sea bass, mounted handsomely on a bed of grilled fennel and courgette with a drizzle of dill dressing, plus a smattering of sundried tomatoes that set the whole thing off perfectly. The skin on that sea bass was deliciously crisp.
My friend had the chicken ballotine – now where else are you going to find a classic dish like that? It came served with tarragon mousse, potato and truffle purée and – since ‘green veg’ was too ambiguous for my fussy friend – green beans, which the staff were only too happy to substitute onto the plate.
We ordered sides of good homemade chips and even better spicy potato wedges, too. The dishes here are traditional, consistently good and generously portioned, so if you shrivel at the thought of food trends, nouvelle cuisine and molecular fuss, then this is where you need to be.
131 Greenwich High Road SE10 8JA; 020 8853 3020; northpolegreenwich.com
Three courses for two, £76
Traditional British-style fine dining
What to eat…
The crispy skin of the sea bass makes it utterly delicious
What to know…
Secure a table near the pianist to set the mood