On one of the first cold and wet Sundays of the season, my companion and I found ourselves in need of a hearty roast lunch, ideally in a home-away-from-home setting (because, we all need a weekend away from the faff of preparing roasties from time to time). I’d been tipped off that the Green Pea – a short walk from Maze Hill Station – serves one of the best roasts around, so we booked a table to find out if it lived up to its reputation, writes Holly O’Mahony…
The restaurant is instantly spottable on Trafalgar Road; its exteriors are a mass of green upon green, from the paintwork to the flowerpots. Seriously, you can’t miss it. I should mention here that the Green Pea became a bit of an overnight sensation back in 2014, when its glowing Trip Advisor ratings saw it climb the ranks to become the seventh best restaurant in London – just one spot below the three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea. Soon, the regulars found themselves joined by London gourmets and tourists from further afield, all curious to sample the Green Pea’s highly acclaimed pub grub.
As soon as we step inside the Green Pea I’m transported back to childhood holidays in Kerry, south-west Ireland. Warmly-coloured tiles line the floors, joining with exposed red brick walls. Functional sets of wooden tables and chairs are dressed with dated floral mats, while cuttley is already laid in anticipation of guests yet to appear. Interesting artifacts belonging to a bygone era decorate the surfaces and walls, including old books, even older paintings, and a miniature statue of a green and cream Irish ‘Telefon’ box.
My nostalgia for Irish holidays only heightens when the smell of frying bacon hits my nostrils and Tom O’Connor, the pub’s owner, emerges from the kitchen and greets us warmly. Tom is from Ireland’s County Sligo originally, but has lived in the local area for nearly 40 years. “‘I’ll talk you through the menu,” he says, once we’re seated. “We do it all verbally here.” Tom’s description of the various pies and roasts available is far superior to words on a page, and so detailed we’re practically salivating once he’s finished. I order the steak and Guinness pie while my companion opts for the traditionally Irish bacon and cabbage. “Now remember, if you want more gravy, you only have to ask for it,” says Tom. “There’s no hidden charges here,” a statement that’s music to our ears. In fact, the Green Pea is purse-friendly dining through and through, not least of all because it’s BYOB for wine.
The steak and Guinness pie comes with chips that are clearly home-cooked (hurrah!) and roast potatoes (double win!), while a sharing plate of no frills carrots, broccoli and cabbage is placed between us.
The stake contents within the pie are generous, the pastry thick and soft. Meanwhile the addition of mustard to the pie’s sauce gives it a sharp tang that’s a little overbearing, but certainly original. My companion’s ham, which I stole several mouthfuls of, is perfect – a word I don’t use lightly. Juicy and salty, it practically dissolves in the mouth.
Having sat within eyeline of the restaurant’s glass counter of desserts, it would have been unthinkable to leave without sampling some. The warm chocolate fudge cake – a staple of any good pudding menu – came served with vanilla ice cream and was pure comfort in a prettily decorated ceramic bowl, but could have benefited from a few less seconds in the microwave.
The banana crunch, which also came served with vanilla scoop, is the sort of homemade pudding where all of its components sit together yet somehow remain their own separate entities: thick slices of banana lie layered on a biscuit base, drizzled in lemon juice and coated in Greek yogurt cream. It was tasty, but didn’t quite come together somehow.
Gazing round the restaurant (which at 1pm was now full) in a post-roast slump, my eyes fell on trinkets I hadn’t noticed before. ‘Today’s menu: take it or leave it’ read a sign hanging from a nearby shelf.
We’ll take it, thanks – and gladly return to the Green Pea for more soon.
The Green Pea
92 Trafalgar Road,
No website, but bookings can be made via phone on: 020 8858 9319