Greenwich is blessed with a number of great restaurants and gastropubs, and it appears that the opening of Upstairs at The Guildford Arms in November has further bolstered its artillery. Hidden inconspicuously in a residential street a short walk from Greenwich high street, it resembles your traditional local on first impression. However as the name suggests, the fine-dining restaurant sits on the first-floor, whilst retaining the pub-buzz atmosphere of its downstairs relation.
Upstairs is the brainchild of executive chef Simon Wills and chef director Guy Awford and is focused on sourcing quality local food from hand-picked suppliers, which means that the menu is ever-evolving with seasonal dishes that utilize the best ingredients of the time. The menu is stripped back to four choices per course and is strongly influenced by game and fish. This is accompanied by a great selection of wines that the knowledgeable front-of-house is more than happy to recommend to compliment your meal.
The seasonal cocktail of blood orange, rhubarb, vodka and prosecco is a good way to kick-off the evening before the arrival of the first courses. The beets, apple, and Williams Heap (a mild, soft cheese) warm salad is ideal for the vegetarians or turophiles. Alternatively, the smoked halibut cold salad or a winter-warming pheasant and baked potato-broth are also understandably popular options.
The venison for main offers two different cuts cooked to medium-rare perfection, accompanied with a fantastically rich sauce that is reduced from the venison trim and stock for 12 hours, sharpened with rosehip vinegar, aniseed and lapsang – exemplifying the effort and care that goes into each dish. The crispy truffled barley (a fine dining take on a risotto ball) is the vegetarian option for main and is also excellent.
To finish, the strong-flavoured Edmond Tew soft cheese topped off with truffle honey on walnut and raisin bread is the savoury option. The award for the most ingenuitive dish of the night went to the poached pear and Douglas Fir-infused (yes, as in the tree) meringue – turning the term forest fruit on its head!
Every dish is aesthetically pleasing in its presentation and each element of the plate has been well considered, embodied by the variety of flavours in each dish and the subtle integration of a number of lesser-known ingredients into the mix.
Upstairs is only open from Wednesday – Saturday with booking highly recommended (it was absolutely packed on a Wednesday visit). Also look out for special takeover evenings where some of their suppliers and other chefs (Tony Rodd of Masterchef fame) make guest appearances in the kitchen.
Visit their website www.theguildfordarms.co.uk for further information.