There are loads of places to dine out in Greenwich. There's the noodle bar in the high street, and that big pub on the riverfront, and even the sausage van up on the hill beside the observatory. But forget those - the best restaurant in town is most definitely the pie and mash shop a few doors up from the Cutty Sark. Goddard's has been serving up top quality pie since 1890, and is still run by the great grandchildren of the first owner. It's a proper traditional pie shop, with gnarled glass windows, old marble tables and wooden pews for seating. If you've ever been, you'll know just how good it is. And you'll be as gutted as I was to discover (from a small handwritten notice in the window) that Goddard's is closing down in a fortnight's time "due to family circumstances". No more pie, no more mash, it's the end of an era. But time enough for one last slap up meal.
The trick to getting served at Goddard's at the weekend is to arrive just before noon. Arrive a minute later and there'll be a queue stretching back to the door, probably including a pushchair or two, and you'll be waiting rather longer. At least that'll give you time to decide what to have. A traditional plate of beef pie and mash will set you back just £2.20, or maybe take the vegetarian cheese and onion option instead. Your meal is served up by a bevy of ladle-wielding handmaidens hemmed in behind a high green-tiled counter. Each plate comes with two scoops of finest mashed potato, liberally doused either in dark brown gravy or the more traditional 'liquor'. This green gloop may look a bit strange, but it's really only parsley gravy made from butter and flour. And yes, Goddard's serve jellied eels too. The eels are cooked fresh from the Thames estuary (which is how they came to become a local East End delicacy) and the jelly is formed as the stewing juices cool. Maybe it's not surprising that most of Goddard's modern diners wimp out and plump for a pie instead.
Here's what I had yesterday. This is no ordinary 'takeaway' pie, it's the 'Special' Steak 'N' Kidney Pie for a premium £3. Break your way through the enveloping piecrust and there's an ocean of prime beef inside. No wasted space, no gristle, just chunks of top-quality meat piled high in a moist gravy. There's even more gravy over the two mounds of mashed potato, although thankfully on this occasion I managed not to drip any down the front of my jumper. I should have asked for a side order of mushy peas, just to make this a slightly more healthy meal, but I sort-of made up for this omission with my fruit-based dessert. That's an apple crumble there on the right, concealed beneath a deep layer of non-instant custard, and quite delicious it was too (if perhaps a little heavy on the stomach after all that earlier stodge). And finally a mug of steaming tea to wash the whole meal down - there's none of this namby-pamby frothy coffee at Goddard's. Dining out in Greenwich will be far less enjoyable after they've gone.