One of London’s great qualities is how you can find ancient buildings next to new builds or great wealth beside something altogether less glamorous. Such is the case with the new development at the Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich.

Right where they’re building the new Crossrail station, there is a rather swish square and a couple of boozers.

Just over the road from the more depressed market square and ‘proper’ Woolwich, this posh new development is exactly what Londoners are talking about when they mention gentrification. It’s hard to imagine many regulars at one of the many drinking holes the other side of the road easily switching allegiances.

The Guard House’s website describes it as a pub but, popping in at lunchtime, I’m not actually convinced it is.

It’s not often you walk into a pub and get offered a ‘table for one’ and are served at the table throughout your stay, is it? The gentle jazz soundtrack isn’t common in most pubs, either.

Despite its claims, it strikes me that this is more of a restaurant. And, in fairness, it’s a decent one.

Based, as the name suggests, in the vast old Guard House, it has been stunningly transformed with colourful décor.

A bright new conservatory houses a long bar and an open kitchen and there’s a decent sun trap terrace out the front which I imagine will come into its own on summer evenings.

Perhaps it was just because it was a quiet weekday lunchtime and it’s more pub-like in the evenings but I would have felt uncomfortable heading in just for a lunchtime pint, despite the rather wonderful bar with 11 beers ton tap (including Meantime’s Cali Pale Ale) and a whopping 10 gins listed on a blackboard.

Actually, I even felt a little uneasy for a casual workday lunch, but then again with my fry up costing £11 it was way, way above the regular lunch budget for a man of my modest means.

It was money well spent, however. It was hands-down the poshest full English I’ve ever eaten but touches such as a quenelle of salt beef mash and a cheddar and chive sausage made it one of the best too.

Objectively, the Guard House is splendid but it wasn’t a typical pub experience and doesn’t seem the sort of place most of us will seek out for a run-of-the-mill pint or a laid-back night.

It was, however, like being allowed in the VIP area at a festival with access to the posh loos while staring over the fence at the crowded normals.

PICTURED: Take a look at Woolwich’s new pub, The Guard House

The Guard House, Royal Arsenal Riverside, Woolwich

How it rated

Décor ***** Quite stunning

Atmosphere ** Too rarefied for your average pub trip

Staff **** Very nice

Drink ***** A bit staggering

Food **** Pricey and posh but dead good

Price * Don’t come cheap

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