The Old Brewery, The Pepys Building, The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10 9LW www.oldbrewerygreenwich.com
With a brewing history dating back 350 years and once supplying the Royal Hospital’s Pensioners with their three-pints-a-day ration, Young’s has reinvented The Old Brewery, overlooking the river behind the elegant façade of Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Naval College in Greenwich.
The pub/restaurant has relaxed outdoor seating, with a catering hut that serves light bites, a cosy pub area with exposed brickwork creating a traditional feel and an impressive dining room – once an indoor tennis court in Tudor times; the elevated balconies near the ceiling where the audience once gathered now house a collection of antique artefacts, including vintage suitcases, framed paintings, China tea trade memorabilia and 18th-century hats – a nod to its character and fascinating naval history of the area. You also won’t be able to miss the huge copper beer tanks that fill the entire northern wall of the room. We had a warm welcome from the staff and manager Mark McLaughlan who showed us to a table with comfy booth seating and quirky mismatched chairs.
The menu has a good range of choices that you’d expect from a traditional location. I started with the Cornish pan-seared scallops with cauliflower purée and London chorizo which was delicious; the scallops were melt-in-the mouth tender and the punchy chorizo and smooth cauliflower complemented the flavour well. My friend had the Littlebird gin-cured Scottish salmon with crème fraîche, radish and capers which was tasty but was lacking a few slices of bread to soak up the richness. She asked for some and was duly brought a huge plateful – luckily, I was there to help her out with that.
For mains, there was a wide choice of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, including lamb, pork belly, artichoke tart, hake, trout, battered cod and chips, beef burger and sausage and mash. I went for the 28-day aged Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak with thick chips and peppercorn sauce, while my friend chose the Chicken and Suffolk ham hock, leek, mushrooms and suet pastry – both were a hit; my steak came medium-rare, just as I asked, and my friend cleaned her plate, saying the pie was delicious.
We had a couple of sides too, which were as good as the mains; cauliflower cooked with toasted almonds and truffle oil and Tenderstem broccoli with chilli and garlic. The flavours brought the vegetables to life and made them exactly what an accompaniment should be – a tasty side dish on par with the main.
There was a good choice of wines without being overwhelming; guides for the novices included ‘crisp and fruity’, ‘mineral and complex’, ‘ripe and rounded’ and ‘aromatic and spicy’ – and that was just the whites. I went for a glass of ‘rich and spicy’ Bodega Norton Porteno Malbec to accompany my steak, while my friend chose a Colección Privada Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, to complement her ham hock pie. Being a Young’s establishment, there’s a good choice of beer available, too, including craft options, such as Beavertown Gamma Ray Pale Ale and Howling Hops IPA No2.
We were pretty full by the time it came to desserts but decided to share the ice cream sundae, which was a touch too decadent to follow a huge dinner. The other dessert choices were reassuringly classic with a modern twist: Elderflower and gooseberry Bakewell tart and Sticky toffee pudding with malted banana ice cream caught my eye… I’ll just have to visit again and work my way through them all.
If you did feel peckish at teatime, The Old Brewery also offers a classy afternoon tea and the Brewmaster’s version, with mini venison burgers, sausage rolls and chicken and rabbit pasties, all served with a pint. So not strictly tea, but who’s checking? Brunch options include the the over-Instagrammed avocado: ‘Smashed avocado on sourdough, with poached eggs’ and of course, there’s a top-notch Sunday roast available too, so something for every appetite.
This article first appeared on foodepedia.co.uk