Good as Gold, Brockley, 209 Mantle Rd, London SE4 2EW

- Review -

\ Originally published on palatemag.co.uk

I like Brockley; it reminds me of my college days set in fancy Cotham and Redland surrounded by the Georgian houses of prosperous careers, which for me would be more of an augury of things to come. Infused with the same Boomer energy, Brockley’s sense of community is like Just William if he’d made a killing on the property market after discovering his passion for full-stack developing. The affluence of the local populace is marked by brightly-coloured varifocals, tiny dogs and children with names like ‘Felix’ and ‘Poppy’.

Anyway, ever the Pippen to my Jordan, my partner has gone and done it again. With her finger always firmly on the pulse (and mine usually in need of pulling out elsewhere), I’ve mostly her to thank for new, exciting places to gorge. And her latest suggestion of Good as Gold is no different.

Across the rail bridge and nestled amongst what feels like a freshly gentrified neighbourhood, its positioning is reminiscent of Bristol’s Sonny Stores. Light pours in through the huge Sea World display tanks repurposed as windows, highlighting the shabby chicness inside. Intermittently-cracked pastel peach walls fade into the odd flash of undercoating – a similar colour palette to Manteca, as if you’re inside a box of concealer, albeit a bit knackered. WhatGood As Gold offers up is far from knackered, despite its ‘small plates plus a few larger ones for good measure’, seasonally-driven configuration. A café that currently indulges us with dinner service on Thursdays and Fridays only rather sensibly sees the menu dominated by crowd-pleasers.

As is the litmus test, bread and the ubiquitous whipped butter is first. A beautifully straight-up white sourdough is all those prized piquant sugared elastics you’re after, with the butter sporting a shattered tiara of salt to season with at your discretion. The lamb skewers are chubby and supple, glossed in their fatty essence and spiked with cumin. Eagerly slinking off chunks with the teeth like a feral abacus, I almost overlook the handsomely rugged baba ganoush beside it – ethereally wisped with smoke and dappled with a fat pinch of sumac.

The Manchego croquettes are Zeppelins, hedge-hogged with panko and inflated to bursting with a béchamel that is generously laced with cheese. The mojo rojo, although watery around the edge, is a full-palmed slap of all the right notes in one flaming, sweetly soured chord. The three cheese cappelletti is yolk-imbued origami, stowing payloads of ricotta sparking with volts of lemon. Pooled with the holy union of butter, pasta water and packed with lemon thyme, is a sauce that speaks with its slicked chest. It’s what every plate of pasta worth the groans of satisfaction should be about.

Short ribs: there’s braised then there’s brazen. I have never, ever paid £25 for a beef short rib that’s simply accompanied by shallots and Jerusalem artichoke crisps. Was this one worth it? You can bet your trust fund it was. Striations of fat and flesh slow-cooked into wimps of their former selves that, with a knife’s nudge, frees the entire bone without contest. The shallots have been bubbled down to their essential molecules, the back of a fork taking them to their logical, jammy conclusion. The sauce is a wealth of brawn and depth but ostensibly, the dish is a riff on a beef pie; this allusion left me yearning for the thing proper. In particular, the conspicuously absent shortcrust pastry for which the crisps are doing their level best to compensate.

The waiter offers to take my plate before glancing down at all the detritus sculling in jus. Before I can get a word in, he’s already on his heel to grab a slice of bread for the moperation. It’s this nonchalant telepathy that I feel is overlooked as a sign of great service.

Decided upon at a glance is the chocolate sorbet, with salted caramel and sesame praline. Dear reader, take heed: if you even remotely enjoy Riesen’s Chocolate Chews, this is for you. For us. The chocolate sorbet strikes like a textbook guerilla raid; intense, stunning as it is smooth, before melting into the nothingness from whence it came. With the near molar-extracting chew of the praline coupled with the bitter surge of cocoa, this dessert has all the qualities inherent to the 90’s classic.

I can’t say I’m one for cafés as such, as I quite like being tethered to a desktop withFraiseron in the background. For those of you a little less prone to Goblinism, I’d wager that you won’t be disappointed from the looks of their Guinness cake alone. Regardless, the atmosphere at Good As Gold seems to be one of tacit thanks; a room full of people fizzing off a local blessing. There’s an essence of Peckham Cellars about it which is no bad thing by any stretch. Currently, this place has all the right things going for it – not to mention staff that strike the balance of attentiveness without interference. This, in addition to deftly made cocktails with the bourbon and miso honey sour deserving an honourable mention, could signal that Good As Gold is just the kind of deposit Brockley was after.