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
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
Life and Style
food + drink
News
video
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
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

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home