Saturday, May 27, 2017

Goddards at Greenwich

Taking a little bit of a break from our Greek honeymoon recaps to dream about London...

This is a post that I've been dreading writing ever since we ate here. I knew that M would ask me to write this, and I'll get into that a bit more later. Before arriving in London, we did our research on what to eat that was traditionally British, and one of the things we found was jellied eels. We figured that even though we'd never had them before, they'd probably be fine. We like eel in other preparations like sushi, so how different could these be?

The location we chose was Goddards at Greenwich. It had really good reviews, and everything we read about it said it was an institution as it had been around for a long time (1890 by the signage). The first thing that we found that was promising was that it seemed like a lot of locals seemed to be eating here. When we're on vacation, we try to find places that are packed with locals when we can.

We figured that getting just jellied eels wasn't a great idea (or enough for lunch) so we also each got a pie with some sides. M got the traditional mince pie with two scoops of mashed potatoes, peas, and eel liquor (the green-ish gravy). The choice of gravy was between brown gravy and "parsley" which was the liquid from the boiled eels thickened with herbs and spices mixed in. I got the steak and kidney pie with mashed potatoes and eel liquor and also the bowl of jellied eels. We opted to share the additional sides (peas and eels) so that we didn't each have to get them.

M's minced beef pie had a very rich and buttery crust, but it didn't have a great deal of flavor from the filling. It certainly wasn't as good as the pie we had the day before. Overall the pie was just okay. The gravy didn't impart much flavor, and the filling for the pie wasn't that special either. The mashed potatoes were just okay. The peas were also just okay though they might have been our favorite thing from this meal. Everything was just somewhat lackluster.

I got the steak and kidney pie. There was a lot more texture to the meat since it was larger chunks as opposed to being minced up. We couldn't tell what was the kidney, though, so for all we knew it was all kidney and no beef or vice versa. There were also onions mixed into the filling. M preferred her pie more, and I preferred the flavor of mine. The only issue for me was that the beef was a little too dry. Overall, both pies were nothing special. We really enjoyed the other pies we had in London far more than these.

Now for the part that I was dreading writing about the most - the traditionally British jellied eels. The options in these old-school pie shops were stewed versus jellied eels. The difference is that the stewed eels are warm and in liquid whereas the jellied eels are cold, and the liquid has solidified into jelly. We opted for the jellied as that's how we read was the way to eat them.

My first bite wasn't so bad. It was a little salty and squishy, but the texture was similar to other eel I have had in other preparations. The jelly also was pretty salty and had a rather heavy fishy flavor to it. It was so salty and fishy to the point that I started to get a little nauseated from eating it. I opted to ignore the jelly and focus on the eel itself. The eel was still okay to me so I made sure to just eat that. Each piece of eel had a small circular bone in the middle so we had to be careful to pick around that as well as the other little bones that were attached to it since there was a possibility of them getting stuck in our throats.

M had a much different experience with the eels. She hated them and would never eat them again even if it was the only thing left in the world to eat (and she hopes it never comes to that). They were slimy and salty, they were a ton of work with all the bones for not much benefit, the taste and texture of the jelly and the eel skin made her feel sick, and she just did not like them at all. She could barely get through more than one bite, which is why she thought I should write this post instead of her.

Overall, this was a very disappointing meal for us. The pies, mash, and peas were fine. There was nothing special about them, and they were generally bland. The eel liquor poured on top didn't add much either. The eels were a touch on the nasty side, but at least I could eat the eels themselves if not the jelly that came with them. M, on the other hand, would not touch them ever again. While we're glad we got to experience this very old, traditional meal, I doubt that we'd ever do this again.

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