Greenwich has no shortage of great places to get a bite, but for brilliant pub grub Royal Hill has arguably the best spot.
The Meantime Brewery-back Greenwich Union serves up a roast to die and a gazillion beers and now Richard 1st next door has had a complete makeover and upped its food game.
Side by side, both pubs are unassuming from the outside.
Inside, Richard is bright and clean with plenty of pub seating out front and diners are taken backwards towards the conservatory which feels like it belongs in a posh house.
There are vintage trinkets and old prints, plants in recycled wooden crates and – on facing walls – a ‘faded’ wall sign and opulent wallpaper and regency artwork.
It’s all mismatched in the best way and rounds off the edges of an immaculate baby blue paint job, giving the place the perfect kind of unforced character.
Inside seating is virtually matched by that in the tidy suntrap garden which is slightly larger than next door.
While the Union has a staggering collection of drinks, Dick’s – as I can’t help but call it - is merely very impressive.
Anywhere else a list of 18 excellent craft beers by the bottle and half a dozen on tap, including Camden Hells and Meantime would make you fall off your chair.
The wine list is equally extensive.
They’re not cheap – at £4.90 for the posh bottles – and even £3.99 for a pint of Fosters, but remember you’re in Greenwich.
Compared to the beer though, the food is a bargain. The average main clocks in at about a tenner.
Dick’s gone for a fairly small menu celebrating British fare, with some pub classics like battered haddock (with triple cooked chips) and sausages (a Drings Cumberland sausage with bubble and squeak, onion rings and ale gravy.
If you’re having trouble deciding – even if it’s only the drinks order – the staff have awesome knowledge of their fare and are friendly and very attentive.
Deputy manager Josh particularly stood out for his excellent craft beer knowledge and his calm, unflappable efficiency.
When your food arrives, you realise why the menu is relatively small – because they’re dedicating to doing everything really well.
To start, my smoked ham on toast with scotch egg and pickles (£6) could have been lacklustre.
But I got thick lightly toasted, slightly lemony bread topped with a chunky layer of ham so soft and delicately cooked that it virtually flaked away.
On the side, the scotch eggs were petite and perfectly soft boiled surrounded by beautifully seasoned, very sausage meat and a crisp shell.
My fellow diner, Laura, had a main worth killing for: smoked lamb and burnt leek shepherd’s pie with summer greens (£12).
The juicy interior was intense with meaty lamb flavour, rich gravy and big hunks of meat.
Where possible, Richard 1st’s menu is locally-sourced and the dessert menu features cheeses picked from The Cheeseboard about 100 metres away, which couldn’t be much more local.
I didn’t choose that, though. My sweet tooth zeroed in on the sticky toffee pudding with dark chocolate ice cream, where the gloopy sweetness of toffee contrasted nicely with sharp, bitter ice cream.
It wouldn’t be possible to end my review without a note about the toilets. I can’t work out whether I liked it or not but the entirely pleasant and nicely refurbed loos had an unusual feature: audiobooks playing.
I’m not sure whether the snippet I heard was a novel or a memoir but I had to linger for a little while to find out more about the protagonist’s assumed bladder infection.
Richard 1st is in Royal Hill, Greenwich. SE10 8RT. Go to richardthefirst.co.uk, tweet @RichardFirstPub or call 020 86922996.