London’s latest self-styled neighbourhood wine-bar-cum-kitchen, Good Neighbour is set to open next Tuesday, on the Camberwell Church Street location formerly home to Nape, the debut restaurant from charcuterie specialists Cannon & Cannon. The site has been empty since October last year, when Nape closed after less than a year’s occupancy, despite a generally favourable reception.
Good Neighbour, then, comes by way of Australian chef Paul Williamson, who has spent his time in London first in the Soho House Group, and then at WC (Wine and Charcuterie) in Clapham. According to Hot Dinners, his nobly modest ambition for Good Neighbour is to “provide locals with somewhere to share a good bottle of wine and some great food.”
To this end, the restaurant promises, on its website, a “bar and dining room with a decadent basement, serving divine wine and delish cheese, charcuterie, pizzetta and much more.” At least one Twitter pundit was quick to call out the similarities in offering between Good Neighbour and their forbears, questioning the sense of a business proposition that delivers a product so similar to that of an unsuccessful predecessor, but while the restaurant game in London can be brutal, so too can real estate, and these are the sorts of chances young restaurateurs have to take if they want to put their own name on the door.
The menu at Good Neighbour is a sprawling, if familiar, affair. A range of cheeses and charcuterie — both local and European — precede tried-and-true bar snacks like baked Camembert and a trio of dips (babaganoush, red pepper and feta, tzatziki) that will surely conjure some old memories for any Antipodean who lived through the nineties. Larger dishes are split between a selection of pizzette, and two sections labelled simply “plates” and “vegetables.” The former features classic combinations like goat’s cheese, cherry tomatoes, and caramelised red onion, the latter include a braised octopus, chorizo and chickpea cassoulet and roasted tahini cauliflower with pomegranate molasses, dukkah and parsley respectively.
The accompanying wine list, too, reads with familiarity; bottle prices are refreshingly restrained, ranging from £20 to £50, and classic regions and varieties are all accounted for, with the addition of a rotating selection of five more esoteric options at just £25 a bottle.