Vesta virgins

Vulcan’s was a bit of a Blackheath institution so we were sad when it closed down, but like a phoenix etc here is Vesta, in the same cosy space with the Very Big Oven. I confess the name bothered me at first – I am a child of the seventies, old enough to remember those ads for instant tv dinners which proclaimed ‘Life is full of Vesta situations.’ The embattled working mum would pull a box of something rattley out of the pantry and serve up whatever it was – miraculously reconstituted, no longer rattling – to her unexpected guests, claiming glory, earning admiration. This is not at all what you get at Vesta in Blackheath, which was very clear when Julie and I finally made it up there for a date-night dinner.

Just as well we booked because the place is hopping. It is a balmy evening and they have all the doors and windows open, which is lovely. We are in a bit of a nook at our table for two but we aren’t forgotten. The service is always professional and attentive. The bread, baked in their 19th century wood fired oven, is really tasty, quite a grey-brown crumb with poppyseeds in it, and with a very pleasing weight to it. We dip this in olive oil and snack for the short time we wait for our house-made gnocchi with Yamba prawns and chorizo. Best eaten by getting a bit of everything on every forkful. The gnocchi is creamy, the prawns sweet and tender and the chorizo crispy-salty, and what’s great is we still have enough of the bread to mop up the sauce at the end. Goes well with a light and bright Lawson Pinot Gris. No pudding today, but we’ll be back.

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