Sports bars aren't usually known for their food. And when I heard that Greenwood had an entire floor dedicated to showing live matches, I was picturing a menu of bland, beige dishes. But then I heard the prestigious ETM group were controlling the reins of this new Victoria-based venue and, much like Arsenal's chances of finishing in the top four this season, my fears immediately drifted away (see, I know sports).
Greenwood sits comfortably in an area like Victoria. The huge glass exterior offers passersby views of the venue's rustic interior and lively bar. The first thing you notice is just how huge Greenwood actually is. Though it's spread across two floors, the upstairs bar is more like a mezzanine, so the main areas are all housed within one giant room.
The main bar sits in the middle of the room, like an island surrounded by a sea of pink-shirt-grey-trouser city workers. To help the venue stand out, it's full of antique furniture, vintage decor and down-right random wall hangings. We were immediately led to our booth, which was located in one of the restaurant's many cosy nooks. The table itself was cocooned by three mahogany bookshelves, lined with old legal books and vintage radios. Keeping guard over us, a zebra head was mounted on the wall only a few metres above our heads. Like I said, things are pretty random here.
Despite these little oddities, Greenwood has an underlying rustic tone that runs throughout. The brass and brown colour tone makes that abundantly clear. The exposed pipes and low-hanging lights work well with the tiled floors to give the space an industrial feel. Better still, the venue's old barbershop set up - complete with emerald-green barber chairs and wooden counters - immediately establishes the frivolous vibe that it's undoubtedly targeting. It might sound like a weird mix, but it all somehow works and will leave you chuckling to yourself as you take a seat.
The Food & Drink
ETM restaurants alway boast a great wine menu. But it was a Thursday, it had been a long week and our friendly waiter could help but tell us what his favourite concoctions were, so we instead sampled a few of the bar's cocktails. I was immediately infatuated by the White House Tea (£10.50), which was made of Bulleit bourbon, crème de peche, Earl Grey tea and was topped with a blood orange slice. Each sip started with a sharp citrus taste before being mellowed by the smokey tones of the bourbon and the lingering taste of the tea; the perfect refreshment for whisky-lovers on a hot day. My girlfriend took a different turn and opted for the Blood & Passion cocktail (£12.50). Served with a rich crème de cassis shot, the drink wonderfully married Ketel One vodka, passion fruit, blood orange and prosecco. The drink itself was short in stature but compensated with an intense, fruit-heavy taste that stung the mouth and left you with a slight tingling sensation.
To accompany the food, the waiter served us a plate of brisket mac 'n' cheese balls (£6.50). Similar in texture to arancini but delivering a much sharper taste, I was pleasantly surprised by a slightly smokey, chilli kick at the end of each forkful. Once we had inhaled the moreish dish, we shifted focus to our hearty starters. The crispy chilli squid (£7.50) offered everything that you'd expect from a squid dish; it was light, the accompanying lime aioli offered a refreshing balance and the dish had a great contrast of textures. But it was the pizzetta Bianca (£11) that stole the headlines. Ignoring warnings that this was a dish for two people, I dove straight in, dipping each slice in the accompanying fondue dip. The pizza itself offered really bold flavours, courtesy of the shallots, truffle oil and strong cheese toppings. But the fondue dip helped to level things, serving a smooth, creamy taste that countered the pizzetta. As far as starters go, this has to be up there for me.
Feeling as if my eyes might have been bigger than my stomach, I had a weird feeling of dread as we waited for the main courses. Funnily enough, that feeling quickly disappeared as soon as the dishes arrived. The 300g sirloin steak (£29), which came with a side of skin on fries and a rich béarnaise sauce, offered everything I'd expect from an ETM restaurant. It was succulent, perfectly cooked and was supported by a side-order of moreish chilli and garlic brussels sprouts (£3). Lifting the bar even higher was the poached hake and Thai mussel broth (£19). Even before the first spoonful, the spice-heavy smell of the bowl made it clear the dish was going to taste amazing. The hake delicately fell apart while the steamed mussels offered a subtle fish flavour. Best of all, the rich broth was full of exotic flavours and had a chilli kick that seemed to warm your entire torso. The piping hot broth dish is surprisingly refreshing and leaves a great taste in your mouth. In my book, you're missing a trick if you don't order this.
Feeling as if I was about to slip into a food-induced coma, I opted for a cleansing blood orange sorbet (£5.50) for dessert. And again, the dish hit the spot. Full of rich citrus flavour, it offered some much-needed breathing space after a feast like that.
Wow, just wow. Laughing in the face of the archetypal sports bars, Greenwood offers its guests a fine-dining experience in a casual dining environment. It's almost impossible not to fall head-over-heels for the menu; you can tell the chefs planned everything with meticulous detail, going through each dish with a fine-tooth comb and tweaking things until they're as close to perfection as possible. But the venue is so much more than just food. From the barbershop to the mounted zebra heads, the weird decor perfectly embodies the carefree vibe that you feel almost immediately after walking through the door. It has charm, it has swagger, it can do no wrong in my humble eyes.