By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
With the current boom in popularity that’s surrounding Greenwich Peninsula at present, North Greenwich is turning into a real hot bed for eating out. Until quite recently, the only places to eat within a stones throw of North Greenwich station were one of the many restaurant chains within the O2 Arena (apart from The Pilot pub, which is a little off of the beaten track for visitors). Earlier this year, celebrated chef Stevie Parle’s Craft appeared upon the concourse between the Tube Station and The O2, offering a taste of fine dining to the area, and now Vinothec Compass has opened the doors to its Wine and fine Food Emporium.
Also located away from the beaten track, Vinothec Compass is situated upon a new site that’s joined by a Golf Driving Range, accessible by following the huge signs upon exiting North Greenwich Station. The restaurant doesn’t run the Driving Range, although it does fall under the same umbrella and serves a range of snacks and refreshments to Golfers, as well as sharing the site. Therefore, it feels only right that we grab a bucket of balls and enjoy some Golf action prior to our lunch. Unfortunately, Golfing complexes are generally frequented by middle-aged men with a private school education, a trust fund, and a job that’s more boring than being stuck in a lift with Bono. Thankfully, on this occasion, there’s none of the above around to cast judgement at our lack of experience upon a recent visit, even though we’re just minutes from the nearby Canary Wharf.
On to lunch, I’m finally plunged back into my respective comfort zone. Inside, rows of communal tables adorn the restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows that peer out onto the Driving Range. The main focus, however, is the library-like Wine cabinet that’s filled with the reasonably priced drink-in bottles that the restaurant prides itself on. Needless to say, the extensive Wine list is sensational, as is the staff’s collective Wine knowledge. The dining menu is relatively limited, at a first glance, yet there’s a range of very well priced dishes that exceed the expectations set remarkably high by the local Craft and The Pilot. It also becomes very apparent that a number of Spanish influences have managed to sneak into the menu, notably including a Charcuterie Platter, a Chorizo Burger, and Suckling Pig with Piquillo Pepper that’s an absolute standout. Priced at £13.95, the dish the dish works as a luxurious starter or perfectly as a light main. Two slabs of Confit Pork contain a crispy skin that’s filled with flavour, covering a layer of melt-in-the-mouth fat and the Meat with its Pulled-Pork texture. What’s also refreshing is the use of Piquillo Peppers, a welcome alternative to UK’s constant desire to follow in the footsteps of the USA and team shredded Pork with BBQ Sauce.
Elsewhere a Prawn Carpaccio is very well executed, joined by a combination of Roasted Courgette and tangy Tomato, both of the vegetables and a little Sumac work well with the clinically clean taste and often-unforgiving texture of raw Prawn. Expertly fried Squid is joined by fresh Tomato and Coriander, a match made in kitchen heaven, and as for the mains, there’s a strong focus on Steak. Sourced from John Bye of Butchers Hook in Chipping Barnet, an offal-like cheaper cut – Onglet – is served Rare and incredibly tender accompanied by Sweet Shallots and Potatoes. On to desserts, the Chef suggests the Dark Chocolate Cake. We’ve come so far now, how could we resist? The dish is served cool and solidified, counteracting the extreme richness that comes with Hot Dark Chocolate, served with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.
Having been open for just over a month, the restaurant has evidently already overcome any teething difficulties that often surround brand new restaurant openings. With an incredible selection of Wines, and with delicious food and first class service to match, Vinothec Chompass is a strong new contender for the title of Greenwich’s best Restaurant.
Vinothec Compass can be found at Peninsula Golf Range, Tunnel Avenue, London, SE10 0QE.