Green House is distinguished from all the other buildings on St George's Terrace by its facade of terracotta and green.
This is because the whole building is covered in a metal cage and each little enclosure of the cage contains a pot plant with something growing in it. A reticulation system keeps the plants watered which means that in summer, the exterior walls of the restaurant are a rustling mass of leaves. Right now, being winter, the red clay of the pots can be seen plus a few green sprigs. As you can imagine, this is a place that stands out, surrounded as it is by cement and brick and glass and metal edifices.
We got a warm welcome, a choice of table and a compliment within 5 minutes of walking through the door. Okay, the compliment wasn't for me - it was for small son, a snappy dresser who was told by the waitress "We all love your 'Mighty Boosh' t-shirt". My sartorially savvy youngster was pretty pleased about this.
Two glasses of water appeared plus a dish of salt-flakes. We hardly had time to admire the decor - exposed pipes and tubing - when the menu arrived. We placed our drinks order - mocha coffee for two. This was a huge treat for small son who isn't usually allowed coffee. Sometimes, he is allowed to order decaf but rarely does he get a chance to have any of the real stuff.
Salt flakes on a stripey table.
They were good coffees. The right temperature, smooth and not overly sweet. It tasted like a coffee with some chocolate in it and not like hot chocolate with a spoon of coffee which is how it should be when all is right with the world.
The menu was perused. I like a menu where there a a few interesting choices rather than many bland ones. "What's quince?" small son wanted to know. I explained that it wasn't just a high-scoring word in Scrabble but a rather yummy, if modish, fruit that tasted something like an apple and something like a pear. His next question,"What's mascarpone?"
"It's when you blindfold a small horse."
He gave me a look that made me feel old and unfunny which is probably what I am.
I enjoyed reading all the extra detail on the menu about the gardening that was taking place on the roof.
At any rate, he recovered from my bad puns long enough to order the quince upside-down cake with marscapone. I decided to order the breakfast pizza -there was no description of it on the menu - simply the words 'brekkie pizza' but I was in a good mood so took a chance.
Flipping the menu over, I was delighted to find a drinks menu for breakfast drinks. How civilised and fun to find it acknowledged that with a good breakfast sometimes you need a little more than coffee. There was a selection of recommended breakfast cocktails as well as a choice of bubbles (Italian prosecco and real champagne). I ordered the drink that sounded most interesting to me - the one that mentioned rhubarb.
What they said - coffee, sometimes, is just not enough.
Small son was very excited when his quince cake appeared served in a flower-pot base. It was warm and generously strewn with mint that had been harvested from the cafe roof-top. "Ooh," he exclaimed, digging into it with his spoon, "Smell this!" It was spicy and minty and comforting. "The mascarpone is like butter!" he added, passing me his spoon so I could have a taste. Evidently, I had been forgiven for my earlier attempt at humour. It was a gorgeous moist cake and I think that the quince had been poached in wine or possibly port
.The mint was grown in tubs on the roof.
Mascarpone - nothing to do with horses.
The breakfast pizza proved to be well-sized - a good ruler-width in diameter - and elegant. A crumbly, thin base which I am guessing was made with polenta or possibly millet, sprinkled with oil and salt, dolloped with goat's cheese and slices of fresh tomato. It was good earthy, peasant food and had come out of the large wood-fired oven that dominates the whole of the Green House kitchen. Despite the size, I did finish it all. It was so good and such a classic combination of flavours, although I did find myself wishing that they had included a little fresh basil. I guess it's the wrong season to be hoping for basil.
I'm pretty sure there were caraway seeds thereupon.
The piece de resistance though, was my cocktail. I think I got a waft of lime zest before it even reached the table. It was a beautiful blush colour thanks to the Aperol and was poured over crushed ice and topped with a perfect lime swirl. To me it tasted more of grapefruit than of rhubarb but perhaps that's how rhubarb tastes when you mix it with gin...
I have to say that the service was great. They were attentive without being obtrusive and that's a difficult balance to achieve. It was noticed when my drink was finished and I was asked if I wanted another and not pressured to order when I said I was fine.
We had no trouble getting a table but I think that, as we were leaving, the lunch crowd were just starting to give a sense of a queue. I must admit that I'd like to get back sometime and see what's for lunch (and what's for dinner).
On the way out, we ventured up to the roof to see the garden (which also doubles as a bar). It's an interesting space, exposed as it is to the windy Terrace and not getting a lot of sun on account of the fact that it is surrounded by high-rise office buildings but there in tubs all around were herbs and salad greens and other leafy things.
Tub of mint.
Small son though it was pretty cool and even allowed me to take his photo.
Check out the groovy t-shirt.
Green House is definitely worth a try if you haven't been. We were sorry to have to go but we had shopping to do. On a more leisurely day, it would be great to go with a few friends, order a few more dishes and try a few other cocktails. We'll definitely go back.
We'll be back again soon.