The Old Brewery, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10

This fine summer's evening we are travelling downriver to Greenwich, to partake of a whitebait dinner and a glass of Hospital Porter. How delightfully mid-19th century. In Dickens' time, Greenwich was famous for its whitebait – the small fry of various fish which bred abundantly in this polluted stretch of the Thames – and visitors would journey from far and wide for an infanticidal fry-up. The fish may come from Billingsgate Market these days, but the traditional Greenwich whitebait dinner is enjoying a revival, thanks to an appealing new venture from local brewers Meantime.

Already responsible for several local gastro-pubs, as well as some fine beers, Meantime have gone one step further and created a gastro-brewery, behind the porticoed façade of Sir Christopher Wren's Royal Naval College. Once home to a brewery that supplied the Royal Hospital's Pensioners with their three-pints-a-day ration, the space has been reinvented as a café, bar and restaurant. By day it serves visitors to the neighbouring Discover Greenwich exhibition, and by night the lights dim, the white tablecloths come out, and the place transforms into a dramatic dining room, serving a modern British menu with a distinctively beery bias.

To get the full experience, you really have to arrive at the Old Brewery by boat. The Thames Clipper service speeds there in just 30 minutes from the London Eye, past the wharves of Limehouse and the skyscape of Canary Wharf. From Greenwich Pier, it's a one-minute stroll to the Naval College, where the Old Brewery occupies an impressive chunk of riverfront real estate.

There's a small terrace and attractive bar, but the restaurant space is altogether on a different scale, with a swagger to match the epic surroundings. One wall is dominated by gleaming copper beer vats – this is an operational micro-brewery – and the ceiling is so high you expect to see small clouds floating beneath it. Only the Wapping Project, housed in a converted power station a couple of miles upriver, can rival the room for sheer wow factor. Huge industrial lamps create pools of light and shade, and a sculptural wave of beer bottles is suspended unnervingly overhead.

Disappointingly, for a riverfront restaurant, there's no view of the river, and if one were being picky, the tables do seem rather small, given the available space. Painted over one wall runs a brewing time-line of London. Meantime has revived the historic Hospital Porter, brewing it on the premises, and the friendly manager encourages us to sample it, and any of the other draft beers that we fancy. "I've tried them all," he tells us. "Not today, obviously." We start with the lager-like house beer – Keller Bier – and work our way through to the Hospital Porter, matured in whisky casks to leave a distinctive whiff of Germolene.

Though there's a conventional wine list on offer, beer matches are suggested for each item on head chef Daniel Doherty's menu, which also finds interesting uses for ales in dishes such as chicken liver parfait with cherry beer jelly, or neck of Herdwick mutton braised in Meantime pale ale. (The name is a tribute to the area's most famous export – Greenwich Meantime – and not that Mike Leigh film set among East End tower blocks.)

We start with the echt Greenwich experience – a plate of devilled whitebait, and a glass of Hospital Porter. No longer are the tiny fish rolled in flour and plunged live into boiling lard. But they were pretty damned fresh, dusted in paprika and served with a caper mayonnaise. Oysters – half a dozen rocks for £8.50 – get the full production, raised on a platter over cracked ice, with shallot vinaigrette, Tabasco and a jug of stout to pour over them.

Main courses were decent, without living up to the spectacular heights of the setting. Pan-fried cod came with an array of heritage tomatoes which failed to deliver on the taste front, while beer-braised mutton, with ratte potatoes and hispi cabbage, was like a pie-filling without the pie.

Puddings were notably good – a refreshing rhubarb and white beer cheesecake, and a lemon posset served with lavender shortbread, both made with a lightness of touch which augurs well for the daytime tea and cake offer. Local residents seem to have taken to the Old Brewery with enthusiasm – a few months after opening, both bar and restaurant were busy on a midweek evening. The obvious enthusiasm of the staff lends a buzz which leaves you feeling you've had a proper big night out.

Whether you're a jaded Londoner, or a tourist planning a river trip, I can't think of many better options than dinner at the Old Brewery. And Meantime are local heroes for taking all that brewing history and finding a way of making it work for modern drinkers and diners. In venturing into the "destination restaurant" business, they may be relative small fry, but they've taken on the big fish, and done it superbly. Tracey MacLeod was named Restaurant Reviewer of the Year at the Guild of Food Writers Awards

The Old Brewery, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10 (020-3327 1280)

Food 3 stars
Ambience 4 stars
Service 4 stars

Around £45 a head for dinner before service

Tipping policy: "No service charge. All tips go to the staff"

Side Orders: Greenwich gastro

Nevada Street Deli

8 Nevada Street, London SE10

Popular local deli serving a fabulous selection of charcuterie, salads and home-baked cakes; daily roasts are particularly popular.

Rivington Grill

178 Greenwich High Road, SE10 (020-8293 9270)

The sibling of the trendy Shoreditch eatery does a great 2-course lunch – try half a pint of prawns followed by salmon fillet with roast chicory (£12).

Inside

19 Greenwich South Street, SE10 (020-8265 5060)

Guy Awford's modern European cooking here includes a dish of roasted cod, Spanish paprika with white bean and chorizo cassoulet.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas