"Whilst the building and extensive grounds are impressive, the atmosphere is warm, intimate and relaxing"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
I am not a regular visitor to Eltham so I was pleased that Tudor Barn is just a few minutes’ walk from the train station – along a main road and past the stunning gardens of Well Hall Pleasaunce. I walked along to the gate right at the end on the corner and along a short path until I arrived at the huge walled lawn area (kids will be delighted at this and there is a large, well-kept adventure playground just beyond this) in front of the beautiful 16th century Tudor Barn which was lit with tasteful twinkling lights.
There are numerous tables on the spacious front terrace and there were quite a few folk enjoying the unseasonably warm weather there. There is also a covered bandstand (apparently there are lots of live music events here in the summer) which is now serving as a shelter for smokers in inclement weather.
The flower beds here are as pretty as those in the main gardens and the hanging baskets are lush and colour co-ordinated. There’s a stately home feel about the place. I entered through the heavy wooden door into a long, narrow bar. I was surprised at how the historic features and feel of the place (this is the only such building in London) have been preserved while the fittings and décor are modern, elegant and welcoming.
To one side is an area with low tables and window seat cushions looking out through leaded windows onto the front lawn with invitingly soft, dark leather sofas with coffee tables and standard lamps giving it a (tidy) homely feel. I was a bit reminded of Jane Austen films.
There were numerous bar staff who were local, friendly and super-efficient – even though I am temporarily mesmerised by the array of glass jars containing assorted nuts, savoury snacks and sweets (liquorice all sorts!). My chilled glass of Chardonnay costs £4.75. At the other end of the bar there are higher tables and chairs and there were a few small groups chatting happily at these. The paintings and photos on the wall – which are all on sale from local artists – add interest without feeling out of place.
The bar menu focuses on Great British Classics – there’s a pint of prawns, potted crab, Scotch eggs, Welsh rarebit, smoked salmon and boar sausage rolls on offer. All at £5.95. There are also burgers (£10.50), scampi (£11.95), steak and ale pie (£11.95) and cheese and onion tart (£8.95) which are all served with chips or mash.
I notice that afternoon tea (£9.95 per person) and cream teas (£3.95) are also available as well as options for cake of the day (£2.50) every day between 12pm and 6pm. At weekends there are also breakfasts and brunches served between 10am and 6pm – full English (£7) as well as eggs Benedict (£6.50) and Florentine (£6). There are roast dinners on Sunday too.
You can see the open dining area from here – again, while the historic white painted bricks and dark wood of the place are a reminder of the history it all feels clean, modern, calm, warm and inviting. I spy a fireplace at the end with some interesting tile and pebble floor work – architects will go wild for the place.
I take my cocktail (Porn Star Martini - £5.95 - which is very good) when I go for a wander around the small rear terrace which is surrounded by a real moat and greenery and trees. I quite forget that I am still in London. The attentive Italian waiter (Alberto) showed me to my table in the dining room and I start looking through the extensive a la carte menu.
Starters are priced from £5.50 to £8 (e.g. soup of the day, duck liver pate, homemade faggots, goat cheese roulade) and there is a sharing option of baked camembert (£12). For mains there are vegetarian options such as mushroom and broad beans risotto (£13.50) as well as meat and fish dishes such as slow cooked West Country pork belly (£16) and Herb filled cod with smoked pancetta (£16.50). There are some “Share the love” selections focusing on steaks and lobsters ranging in price from £22.50.
I decide to attempt one of the Tudor Feasts which come in meat, fish or vegetarian versions (two courses are £32 per person and three courses are £39) – effectively, these are tasting menus served on wooden boards on stilts and are particularly popular with the folk who take advantage of the voucher promotions.
There was a heavily laden starter board and then an equally full mains board – too many dishes to review them all. And feast is absolutely the right word. The highlights for me were the creamy fish soup containing large prawns, plump mussels and delicate salmon. It’s a sort of cross between the best clam chowders of Boston and the Cullen skinks I have enjoyed in Scotland. And the lightly seasoned and moist smoked haddock burger came in a brioche bun with tiny match-stick chips (in a newspaper cone) and a tarragon mayo.
There were two triumphs: the chargrilled squid salad (containing pieces of chorizo and accompanied with light tempura courgette flowers) and the pan steamed sea bass which was presented as a pretty twist on a bed of wasabi mash and slivers of oyster mushrooms. These dishes were comparable with the West End’s best restaurants.
I also had to try the Romanesco broccoli and almonds (£4) side – the almost luminous green colour and bulbous shape looked slightly alien but it had a pleasant firm texture and a cauliflower taste.
Whilst the building and extensive grounds are impressive, the atmosphere is warm, intimate and relaxing. The food was of a surprisingly good quality and the service was superb. So whether you are out for a drink or wanting to dine in style – or even if you want to use the beautiful upper floor gallery (you should see the original dark beam vaulted ceiling!) for a wedding or party – Tudor Barn provides a perfect backdrop.
KimT reviewed Tudor Barn Eltham on Mon 06 Oct 2014