Greenwich – the ‘home of time’ – is possibly London’s most attractive something-for-all-the-family destination. Not wholly coincidentally, this World Heritage Site has also long been a pretty vile place to eat. (It doesn’t help that most of the more prominent local restaurants are under the common, and rather complacent, ownership of a local Mr Big.)
The arrival of an outpost of London’s most consistently impressive restaurant group – Caprice Holdings, which also owns The Ivy and so on – is therefore potentially a cause for celebration. Let’s be frank, though: even with all Richard Caring’s money behind them, Caprice has not really secured the best site in town. They advertise it as being ‘part of the Greenwich Picturehouse’. True, but detractors might just say it occupies a rather ugly brick building, handy for the railway station. Inside, however, it’s plain but attractive, with a mezzanine floor, and rather evocative of New England. Staff, if not actually American, are rather in keeping: informal but quite smart, all at the same time.
Mark Hix (‘Chef Director of Caprice Holdings’), is much name-checked here. You can even – yawn – buy his books. He presumably does not actually do the cooking, and the realisation of the generally quite meaty menu is a notch or two down from that you might expect in St James’s.
A sample meal kicked off with whitebait (the local speciality I felt I had to try), followed by a two-course set lunch. My selection was pollack (nice to be offered an un-endangered fish, for once) and chocolate tart and ice-cream. Apart from the bread (a small loaf) nothing really shone, but almost everything was thoroughly competent. And when you’re in a town that’s yet to get to first base, culinarily speaking, that’s certainly not to be sniffed at.