In a nutshell
Open Wednesday to Saturday for dinner, the refined, seasonal menu at Upstairs at The Guildford arms, created by executive chef Simon Wills and Guy Awford is built around locally sourced and wild ingredients and designed to deliver natural flavours.
After gaining over 20 years of experience, cooking with top chefs including Nico Ladenis in London and Patrick Jeffroy in France,Simon Wills heads up the kitchen. Working alongside chef director Guy Awford, Simon and his team produce modern and innovative food using the freshest ingredients from their carefully handpicked suppliers, from Dave & Tim from Blackwoods Cheese Company in Brockley to Miles and his team of foragers from Kent.
Menu know how
The menu might be stripped back with a choice of only three dishes per course, but the dishes themselves are far from it. Complex but never overcomplicated, simple ingredients are transformed into exciting combinations with perfectly balanced flavours.
What’s the room like
Just outside of the centre of Greenwich, on a residential street, The Guildford Arms is a three-storey Georgian pub with two restaurants ‘Upstairs’ and ‘Downstairs’. Downstairs the pub focuses on high-quality rustic specials, bar snacks and sweet things inspired by the owner’s Blackheath traiteur Hand made Food.
Upstairs, on the other hand, showcases some of the best ingredients Kent and London has to offer.Food is definitely the focus here. Photographs of the people behind their local ingredients line the walls, telling the story behind the food long before anything arrives at the table.
Combining the warm buzz that you associate with a traditional pub and contemporary design features, this inviting space is the perfect backdrop for the menu’s ingredient-led dishes.
Every dish is a highlight here. Start things off with the signature beets, apple, William Heaps artisan cheese (a fresh, sharp and creamy cow’s cheese), rye and sorrel salad finished with Brogdale verjus. Every element is carefully considered, from the flavour to the beautiful presentation.
Go to the other end of the flavour spectrum with the baked potato broth, pheasant, three-cornered garlic, wild mushrooms and chestnuts. Deep earthy flavours complement the game, while crispy potato skin adds the texture – baked potato never tasted so good. Staying with big flavours for mains, the pork, parsnip, rape greens, radish and rosehip is particularly special with its clever interplay of flavours and textures, thanks to a braised pig’s head croquette.
Veggies fear not, though – the crisp truffled barley, Flower Marie cheese from Sussex, celeriac and cabbages is a must-order too. Finish with the slightly bitter and sweet chocolate mousse with malt ice cream, salted butterscotch, dark chocolate ganache and cobnuts: grown up and delicious.
Beautiful food, in presentation and flavour, is just the start here. Every ingredient has its own story, which is delivered both on the plate and by the passionate and knowledgeable staff, who really care about what this restaurant is bringing to the table.
Simon, Guy and the team take British cuisine and truly make it their own, meaning this little-known pub is a place you will walk away from and still talk about for weeks after.
Address: The Guildford Arms, 55 Guildford Grove, Greenwich, London, SE10 8JY
Words by Nicki Smith, written February 2016.
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