March 21, 2018

I defy anyone who lives in Greenwich, or the neighbouring areas to say that they never visited the National Maritime Museum. Especially families with younger children enjoy the museum too frequently, and the cafe is always the place to go and grab a bite to eat or just a quick coffee. When I saw that they have closed the Parkside Cafe for refurbishment I was really excited, after all it’s run by Benugo so any changes they should be good.

Photo: from Benugo Twitter post

A friend, my little companion and I went for lunch a few days ago, following their opening on Monday 12th of March. It wasn’t really planned to have lunch there, but as soon as we saw the new layout and the new menu we decided to find a table and take a break from our walk in the park.The hotplates have gone and a new restaurant style menu has taken over the buffet/cafe style that was served previously.

Photo: Julia Kourmpidou

For my starter I chose the Burrata and Heirloom tomatoes salad, with rocket leaves and a basil dressing and my dining companion ordered the Smoked salmon with a beetroot and horseradish remoulade. Both plates arrived in a timely manner, with a clean and simple presentation. My burrata was fresh and creamy but my tomatoes were lacking that punchy taste of the heirloom tomatoes, that you find especially this time of the year. I was hoping for more sweetness from the tomatoes and more flavour.

Photo: Julia Kourmpidou

As we finished our starters, and our table was cleared for our mains, we were both left with no drinks and felt that a further order was somehow neglected. Our waitress though appeared just in time, minutes before our mains arrived and her wine recommendations again ticked all the boxes. I do love a waiter/waitress with an opinion and she definitely had one, and she seemed to know the food and the drinks quite well. It is so reassuring to know that the person that is looking after you, knows the menu well.

Moving on to the mains and my companion wanted the rack of lamb, but sadly they did run out of that dish that evening, so she had to order the sirloin steak instead. Although not a big fan of steak, as so many times restaurants fail to cook it to taste, my friend was not disappointed on this occasion. The steak came perfectly cooked medium rare with the distinctive charred markings on. She substituted the chips with spinach. The spinach on the other hand was a bland lump of steamed leaves that lacked any seasoning and she had to leave that uneaten. The side salad could have done with a light dressing too.

Photo: Julia Kourmpidou

My main was a classic British dish but with a seaside twist. A monkfish and prawn masala, with coconut rice. The masala is a classic in UK curry houses and a total invention of the British. My fish and prawns were juicy and well cooked, but the sauce lacked the distinctive creaminess of a masala. The ration of monkfish and prawns was very well balanced with the sauce. The vegetables in the sauce were al-dente to almost undercooked. My rice was not what I expected, a steamy coconut infused bowl of basmati. It was long grain rice with the coconut flavour almost non existent. Overall my main was somehow disheartening as I hoped for a nice creamy curry and a delightfully aromatic rice and got none of that.

Despite that, my wine was the perfect match for a seafood curry. Light and fresh with very delicate tones.

Photo: Julia Kourmpidou

Time for dessert and we both chose desserts that honour any British menu! Strawberries and cream and a gooseberry, elderflower crumble with fresh custard.

Seasonal and classic. The little bowl of strawberries came with a dusting of icing sugar and mini jug of cream, but it was just about it with a plain bowl of regularly tasting strawberries.

Photo: Julia Kourmpidou

The kids mac’n’cheese was just lovely. Creamy with a good amount of cheese resulting in a gooey sauce. The portion was generous for a little toddler and to be honest an adult would be happy to eat it. 

The refurbishment is not fully completed as it seems that they have plans to connect the cafe with the upstairs terrace, which will be a great addition and possibly extremely popular in good weather. The change in the layout is good as it gives more floor space, more tables. The change on the menu is even better.

We ordered:
Black bean and quinoa burger £8.50. 
My share of a sandwich, one side, a kids meal plus a bottle of water came at £17.40 minus the 10% members discount £15.66.