Review: Greenberry Cafe, Regent’s Park Road

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A very minor lottery win inspired us to try an acclaimed restaurant we’d never been to. Yet why didn’t it hit the jackpot?


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All boxes ticked: Greenberry Cafe, Regent's Park Road. Photo: Greenberry
All boxes ticked: Greenberry Cafe, Regent’s Park Road. Photo: Greenberry
We had won the lottery. Seriously. And decided to celebrate our windfall (a whopping £115) in what you might call that great aunt of hipster neighbourhoods, Primrose Hill.

And where better than somewhere like Greenberry Cafe? Owned by renowned restaurateur and ice cream obsessive Morfudd Richards, it opened 18 months ago, on the site of hoary old Russian gaff Trojka, and personifies – naturally – the great aunt/hipster look: cute branded fixie outside, bare-brick brasserie interior, back bar stuffed with books and bottles, counter dining.

Reviews everywhere from Evening Standard to The Times simply raved about the place; and yet, despite passing frequently, we had never been inside. At weekends it’s simply packed with buggies, while the good value weekday evening set menu (just £11 for two courses) has remained on a vague to do list.

So it was that we descended, grubby winnings in paws, on a spontaneous midweek evening visit. Service was a little eager as we stepped inside: a request for an Aperol spritz (c’mon, we were celebrating!) had the maitre d’ darting out, Fawlty Towers-style, to buy a bottle – and then returning two minutes later empty-handed as the off licence had “run out”. After such a dramatic start, it was curious that we then had to wait a longish while for anyone to come over and actually take our drinks order. Meanwhile, the restaurant remained quiet. And stiflingly overheated for a mild night.

Anyway, things looked up with a glance at the menu: healthy salads with interesting pairings such as quinoa, apricot and pistachio, “Stoke Newington” smoked salmon, Iberico ham, posh burgers, Asian-infused mains. It’s the all-day bistro vibe that works so well everywhere from Soho to Hackney.

Airy and stylish: interior
Airy and stylish: interior

Yet the food was underwhelming: perhaps poor luck, but not really forgiveable when we had abandoned the set menu to go swankily a la carte. A butternut squash and sage filling in the tortellini may have been rich and sweet, but the pasta was chewy, tough even, surely not fresh that day. Pork belly, sesame and watermelon fared better, yet the slippery, unshapely pile on the plate felt like an amateurish recreation of a dish that works so well when refined (Made in Camden served a beautiful version a while back).

The mains? Not bad, but without even a squeak of the “wow” factor that engenders a return visit. A pleasant sea bream with pak choi, lemongrass, soy and ginger was no match for the signature at nearby Michael Nadra; tagliata di manzo – marinated strips of sirloin – neither as tender nor flavourful as over the road at wine shop-cum-trattoria Negozio Classica (both are the same price, incidentally, £19.50).

And before Greenberry’s undoubted legions of fans hit the comments section below, I’ll underline that it was a perfectly OK dining experience, if we remove any sense of expectation. Perhaps that was the problem, the weight of its reputation. Or perhaps we should have stuck to its cheap set menu. Or come back for brunch…

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Greenberry was, we concluded with a shrug, a little like being introduced to someone we so wanted to like – yet ended up not really feeling anything for.

And there must be a moral in there about not blowing a minor lottery win on a Tuesday night. Ahem.

This is box title
Kentishtowner Rating 6/10. Starters from £6, mains from £12.50. Set menu £11. Two course a la carte meal for two with wine and service £80. Find it at 101 Regents Park Rd NW1 8UR

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  • Laurel

    It’s a bit bland isn’t it? I really miss Trojka 🙁

    • Kentishtowner

      Trojka was an institution of sorts but was the food any cop? We rarely went…

  • NW1er

    Terrible service last couple of times I went and mediocre food / coffee. We are spoilt for choice in this neck of the woods so they need to raise their game for me to go back.

  • Simon Wilder

    I went a few times when it first opened – it’s the sort of place I really like. But the food was never quite good enough and the service was always terrible, so I no longer go. Shame.

  • Hins

    I love your reviews, I liked Trojka always friendly and empty 🙂 but now I know theres no need to visit this place.. looks a bit too cool for school outside