Peter Morrell enjoys the food, the atmosphere and, of course, the beer at this very popular South London micro-brewery
I have often written about the excellent culinary scene in South London and more specifically Blackheath Village. One of the best restaurants in the village is Zerodegrees which is also a bar and micro-brewery. The restaurant is very well placed with its terrace and front window overlooking the heath.
I recently read that Zerodegrees had introduced some exciting new dishes on the food menu so my wife and I decided it was time to pay a visit. We went on a Friday night and arrived to the pleasant buzz of people relaxing after a long week of work and listening to live music.
There are a number of dining spaces, a main area near the bar or a quieter mezzanine for a more cosy meal and if you have got a party or celebration there is a private room on the first floor with views of the heath.
Before looking at the menu we tried a flight of beers showcasing the five types which are regularly brewed on the premises. The range of aromas, tastes and flavours was remarkable, there was a Czech style Pilsner, its flavour, defined by the Saaz hop, it was clean and malty with citrus and grassy notes. The next beer was a Pale Ale which was definitely in the style of a U.S. West coast IPA featuring the Cascade hop. It was beautifully bitter with tropical fruit and lemon/lime flavours.
The third was a German style wheat beer, naturally cloudy it was very refreshing with a crisp orange character and with notes of vanilla and coriander.. The next was a Belgian style beer flavoured with mango, it’s become a firm favourite at Zerodegrees, it had a malty taste with good fruit and floral tones.
The last regular beer was a dark Czech lager with very complex chocolate, coffee and liquorice flavours, it was deliciously drinkable. There was a surprise at the end, a tasting of two special brews. The first was a dry hopped pilsner which had a definitive smoky character and the second was a slightly sweet Vienna lager, both were interesting and strikingly different from the regular beers.
It was time to eat and the menu had as much variety as the beer.s There were appetisers, mussels, pizza, pasta, salads and risottos, in fact something for every taste. To start the garlic portobello mushrooms looked good as did the caramelised pear with butternut squash, but our final two choices were calamari and Cajun king prawns. The calamari was with a crispy and well seasoned coating and inside was juicy and tender. The prawns were fried in a Zerodegrees beer batter and had a pleasant piquant flavour, they were very succulent and served with a chilli soy sauce.
After toying with a number of possible main dishes like the off-beat Peking duck or Kedgeree pizzas we decided to try two of the new entrants on the menu. My wife chose the wheat ale and smoky bacon mussels while I had the smoked salmon tagliatelle. The mussels tasted sea fresh and had been steamed in wheat ale with cream, fresh chives, parsley, spring onion and smoked bacon, an added bonus was the portion of Belgian style fries as a side.
My tagliatelle was equally as good the smoked salmon and pasta were in a sauce of a cream and parmesan reduction with garden peas and steamed broccoli. It was a light dish and very enjoyable.
My wife is only an occasional beer drinker so her match with the food was a glass of Gableview sauvignon blanc from South Africa. It had all the characteristics of this grape variety, tropical fruit, citrus flavours and lively acidity. My companion with the meal was the refreshing wheat beer which went well with the fish. If like my wife you are not a beer drinker then there are a good selection of wines and cocktails.
We had left just enough room for a dessert, the decadent pecan pie with salted caramel pizza was a big draw as was the chocolate fudge cake but the lure of the salted caramel gelato was too much to resist. It was a good choice.
After the meal I took a look at the brewery, the domain of Head Brewer David Mellinas, everything was spotlessly clean and gleaming stainless steel tanks delivered the fresh unfiltered beer direct to the taps in the bar. There are always a couple of special brews available so you can try a new beer drinking experience during each visit.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Zerodegrees, the food and service were excellent and the beer is equally enjoyable for both enthusiasts and people may think that beer drinking is not for them, they will be pleasantly surprised.
If you don’t live near Blackheath you can still enjoy the Zerodegrees experience as there are branches in Bristol, Reading and Cardiff.
29-31 Montpelier Vale
London SE3 0TJ