London still has a few unknown tricks up its sleeve when it comes to incredible places to eat and Craft in Greenwich is the rabbit in the magician’s hat. One of those places so good that you only want to talk about it in hushed tones and to your nearest and dearest in case the queues should start forming. Founded by Stevie Parle, the venue has just started a new monthly series named ‘Thursday FEASTS’ in which a guest chef is invited to design a one-off menu; this March was the turn of three-Michelin-starred Shaun Hill.
Venue and Atmosphere
The 02 might not first strike as beautiful - a hangover from our Millennium grand ideas - but when seen from Craft’s wraparound outdoor terrace, it is exactly that. As part of the massive regeneration of Peninsula Square, Craft sits apart from the chain restaurants and apartment blocks in a vast, glass-fronted, egg-shaped building, that's more spaceship than traditional British gastro restaurant.
Showing off his roster of skills, Stevie Parle has brought three different concepts to the venue; a ground-floor cafe, a first-floor restaurant and a building-topper bar with an outdoor balcony. The restaurant manages to be both spacious and intimate; huge floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto the 02 and the faraway skyline of the city, while the restaurant's curved shape hides its true size, instead creating a long cosy nook feeling.
Interiors are just as modern as the architecture; brassy golden blobs cover lights, turquoise picnic chairs sit next to royal blue velvet booths, and the ceiling is carved into wooden lines. The showstopper is the upstairs bar. Yes, it has amazing views but with decor this dreamy you would be forgiven for not paying attention. The ceiling is painted in a sand-storm mix of black, purples and greys, a brass circular bar anchors the room and metallic leather wall panels merge into sofas. In the current climate of uncertainty, Craft's futuristic design is the dystopia we're all hoping for.
Food & Drink
Not content with a menu that picks fresh from the British Isles’ land and sea, along with produce from their in house apiary and smokehouse, Stevie Parle has decided to invite in other top chefs once a month. This March, it was the turn of Shaun Hill, a man who has earnt three Michelin Stars in a career spanning more than 50 years - and by God, does it show. Cooking up dishes from his new cookbook ‘Salt’, Shaun Hill’s food was conversation-stopping, four courses (£45 with a welcome cocktail) that turned us into babbling, grabbing beings, keen not to waste a single morsel. Things kicked off with a sharer plate of deceptively simply named nibbles; sesame and blue cheese biscuits crumbled in our mouths, and only chefs of this calibre could tart up a welsh rarebit into a fine dining experience.
As the old adage goes, oysters are an aphrodisiac and I certainly felt things in the dish that followed. Two warmed oysters were doused in a drinkably-good spring onion butter and a smattering of salmon eggs. Piled underneath, a champ mash potato had us practically licking bowls clean. The main course was similarly knee-weakening, with pink lamb attached to crunchy fat and served with Jansson’s Temptations - a Swedish dish of potato, cream, milk and butter, proving once again that Sweden knows best.
As well as making us go googly eyed over our dinner, Craft also has a neat cocktail selection, perfect for sipping on their terrace at sunset. The dinner came with a Rose Hipster which was a sweet mix of rose hips liqueur, cardamom and quince liqueur. A wine pairing is available with Thursday FEASTS but our lovely waiter, Frankie, knew his way round the list and suggested a Crozes- Hermitage red from Rhone which was perfectly balanced for both light and heavy dishes.
Stevie Parle has achieved perfection with his futuristically slick venue, how queues aren’t clamouring to spend time on Craft’s outdoor terrace should be punishable by jail-time. Craft, you’ve got me hook, line and sinker, now please carry me away in your sexy spaceship of seasonal and out-of-this-world food.