The whole country has been locked down for too long now and it is starting to show as mandatory masking rules are being broken in shops and on trains, and seaside towns are being overrun every time the sun comes out, but on the South Bank the few tentative re-openings are being taken seriously and carried out properly, writes Michael Holland.
The Green Room has a large open-air garden where they have reduced the covers from 300 to 100 to keep customers safe. Sanitiser points are dotted around and tables are cleaned whenever they become vacant, plus, the staff are constantly washing their hands. Myself and Nina were as safe as we ever could be in the circumstances.
There is quite rightly a registering process so they can track and trace customers if the need ever arises, which slows service down a tad if your phone signal is lacking, but eventually we were brought chilled water, our order was taken and drinks arrived.
To begin we had the Chickpea Hummus, with Crispy Chick Peas and a killer chilli kick that made my citrussy IPA all the more refreshing – as well as necessary to calm the heat the hummus had created. Elsewhere on the table, all gooey and warm and strangely comforting, were the Sauerkraut and Cheddar Croquettes, which oozed and schmoozed their cheesey way into my heart.
Nina sipped serenely on her cocktail and blocked out all my Hmmms and Aaaahs and other eating noises.
The manager came over to say hello and update us on what had been happening on lockdown. The menu had been stripped back, the company had furloughed many staff who were now striving hard to work under new Covid restrictions, and even with reduced numbers in their ranks they kept the smiles on their faces as more customers than expected arrived. Especially our server Emilia who seemed exceptionally busy.
Pizza is the big thing at The Green Room where the kitchen is run by Head Chef, Ben Hughes-Gage. The team’s house bread oven was fired up to cook Richard Falk’s new sourdough pizza recipe, and working only with stone milled heritage, British grains and British produce harvested during their peak seasonal window, the home-baked pizzas looked very impressive. So impressive, in fact, that Nina did not look at anything else on the menu but quickly chose the signature pizza, Fior Di Latte mozzarella, La Masseria olive oil, passata, housemade chorizo and n’duja, which is quite a mouthful in more ways than one, so she pointed at the menu and said, ‘That one’.
I was tempted by the haddock and triple-cooked chips but after two of the hottest days on record I needed something lighter, and I’m pleased to say that the Black Rice and Grilled Courgette Salad with Grilled Chicken ticked that box superbly. With cashews and radish in there too there was an array of textures and tastes to experience, and was perfect for a summer evening.
We paired our mains with a fruity Macabeo from Spain.
The Green Room isn’t hot on views but is great for people-watching with its garden, and a glass-walled inside that is spacious and bright and allows the interested viewer to see the spectacle of life pass by.
The Green Room, 101 Upper Ground, SE1 9PP
02030340991 – www.grlondon.co.uk/
Tues, Wed, Sat: 12pm – 9pm; Thur & Fri: 12pm – 11pm
Food 4 Stars
Value 4 Stars
Ambience 4 Stars
Disabled Access Yes
Disabled Toilet Yes
Main Photo: Goya Photography