Occupying an enviable space on the edge of Blackheath common, the bar, restaurant and microbrewery Zerodegrees is a veritable Swiss army knife of eateries. A thriving foodie spot, not only do they sell fantastic wood-fired pizzas, but they also make their own delicious, award-winning craft beer on site! Keen to see what all the fuss was about, Kasha and I visited one Sunday afternoon with the sun glowing lazily through the British clouds.
Established in 2000, the restaurant’s founders decided to do something a little different and opted to integrate an entire brewery into their restaurant. The result is an open plan, creative décor where you can choose to dine alfresco overlooking the heath, inside an egg chair, on an upcycled car engine table or right next to the enormous gleaming beer barrels of the brewery. The kitchen, likewise, is open plan, so you can dine while watching the chefs delicately placing pizzas into the wood-burning oven.
Another prime position is the first floor dining area, which gives you a bird’s eye view of the brewery below. When we visited there was a diverse array of patrons, from families, couples and groups of friends all enjoying the food and happily exploring the enormous array of amber nectar on tap. If you want, you can even ask the staff for a tour of the beer-making facilities, where you’ll spot the local malts and find out what’s currently bubbling away in the giant stainless steel vats.
Much of the grub on offer here is distinctly Italian in origin; which was fine by me. There is something innately flawless about the unison of creamy pastas and indulgently topped pizzas with refreshing pilsners and fruity pale ales.
Upon choosing a starter, we elected for Crispy Fried Calamari (£6.50) with a sweet chilli dip, and Spiedini (£6.50), which is essentially halloumi wrapped in parma ham (I know what you’re thinking: how did I not think of this before?). The saltiness of the halloumi & parma combo contrasted intricately with the balsamic reduction drizzled salad of cherry tomatoes, peppery rocket and olives; it’s safe to say this dish almost moved me to tears.
Suitably impressed, the mains arrived; intrigued by an international fusion I opted for a creamy Porcini and Mexican Sausage Pappardelle (£11.95). The fiery South American spices meant the sausage lived up to its name, and the rich sauce made it a deliciously decadent choice. Kasha, always a lover of risotto, selected the Chicken, Spinach and Mascarpone Risotto (£11.95). I was unable to taste much of this, which is surely a good sign, but what I did taste was a simple, well-balanced and delightful dish that transported me back to Italy.
Unable to ever deny a sweet end, our stomachs dragged us into the dénouement of our meal. Kasha had but eyes for one dish (she is a cheesecake fiend) and chose the Cherry & Amaretti Cheesecake (£4.95), a mouth-watering creamy creation of black cherry, a crumbly biscuit base and vanilla ice cream. As a more experimental eater, I erred on the side of mystery by securing the Pecan pie with Salted Caramel Pizza (£5.25). It’s safe to say I had no idea what would appear on the table, so I was pleasantly surprised when the ‘pizza’ was a nut sprinkled dough lashed with salted caramel and a side of vanilla ice cream.
It would be positively criminal to come here without at least sampling the beer brewed on site and served on tap exclusively for its patrons. At the time of opening, fresh beer made right in front of your eyes was a truly unique concept that many drinkers (save those visitors of the Bermondsey Beer Mile) still haven’t really experienced.
With a different beer recommended for each dish, you have plenty of choice to pair your meal with a suitable brewski. I talked with the manager who proudly told me that the beer is unpasteurised, unfiltered and with no additives; a great mantra to create beer by. We were lucky enough to taste each and every one on tap, including the special, a lovely Vienna lager.
Of the six choices (including the rotating special) one of the most interesting was the Zerodegrees Black, a very light, extremely drinkable Czech style lager. For those with a sweeter tooth, there’s a Mango infused beer, for easy drinking there’s CAMRA award-winning Pale Ale and a perfectly balanced Pilsner, so there really is something for everyone. The best thing? If you manage to pick a favourite you can even buy a 5-litre mini-keg to take home.
Anywhere that champions freshly brewed beer is doing a good thing in my opinion. So, the fact that Zerodegrees props up its home-made selection of amber nectar with a range of scrumptious Italian pastas and desserts that make you regret ordering starters is a huge bonus. At around the £4 mark for a pint, this is a great value local boozer too; an ideal spot for craft beer fanatics. Perfect for long lazy meals over the weekend, I’ll definitely be recommending this to anyone after something a little different in our great capital.
*Pin me for later*
I was invited down to enjoy the fab food by the lovely people at Zerodegrees, but all opinions about the grub are, as always, entirely my own.
If you enjoyed reading about this cool spot, why not check out my review of All Star Lanes, a bowling alley, gourmet restaurant and cocktail bar in Holborn.