Aquarium, Harefield Road




Brockley Central always quite liked Ecosium - the bar / restaurant on Harefield Road - but after repeat visits, we understood why some readers were less enthusiastic. The service and eye for detail occasionally let it down.

Recently, Ecosium changed hands, changed its name to Aquarium and introduced a few innovations. Since that time, the feedback has been a lot more positive. Aquarium is the sort of place Brockley needs to do well. So we were delighted to receive this email yesterday:

"My name is Halim and I am the new owner of Aquarium (formerly known as Chez Ecosium).

"I was very interested in reading the comments about the Chez and would like to promote the new restaurant through the Blog. Is it possible to create a new post to add to the reviews page for my restaurant which can help customers re-visit this lovely restaurant?

"We have a new chef with a delicious new bar, lunch and evening menus as well as the quick and friendly service. As a promotion, I would like to offer your blog readers a free bottle of house wine when they have an evening meal with us. It is valid Mondays to Thursdays until April 2009 (see terms and conditions on the voucher)."

We're always happy to help businesses talk to our readers, especially when they're happy to offer customer incentives. So please feel free to take Halim up on his offer (we guess you need to click on the image to enlarge it before printing it off) and also post your reviews of Aquarium here.

99 comments:

Anonymous said...

We visited Aquarium about a couple of months ago. The food was lovely, reasonably priced and the staff were brilliant. I'm glad this place has finally been taken over by people who can do a good job of it. We need more places like this locally.

Paul

Headhunter said...

I agree about the service at Chez. It was pretty awful, although the food wasn't bad. I'll have to try it out in its new guise. I alwys liked the large front windows which open right up and the seats out front on the pavement

Anonymous said...

Have they got rid of those horrible lumpy tables? Very trendy but your food wouldn't sit still on them.

Anonymous said...

Have they got rid of those horrible lumpy tables? Very trendy but your food wouldn't sit still on them.

Headhunter said...

No I think the lumpy tables are still there. I liked them, but could do with coasters to stop wine glasses toppling over

Anonymous said...

I have heard some good things too - must check it out. Although it's a little disturbing that they (and you) can't spell Harefield correctly. And their website doesn't work...

Brockley Nick said...

My misspelling was a bit of a joke, but come to think of it, it might get confusing, so I will change.

Anonymous said...

What's so hilarious about spelling it "Harfield"?

Brockley Nick said...

Nothing.

jpm said...

We've been there twice since the new management took over. And thank God we did. The food and service are excellent.

It's a nice, cosy atmosphere - and terrific music too. the new team are going to do very well.

My only gripes are that I would like a greater choice of wine, and those uneven table tops. It's also the best place near Brockley Station to pop in for a pint.

jpm said...

Actually, now the secret's out it's probably going to be very hard to get a table. So, forget my previous review. Avoid the place. Terrible. Can't cook. It's in Islington.

Anonymous said...

haha JPM.
I like it too. I go quite a lot. It is quite an unusual menu but they also do a range of standard stuff so ask if you don't see what you fancy.

Also one day the chef MADE me a croissant as they had run out.
service or what?

Brockley Triumph said...

We went to Aquarium today and the food and service was second to none. The waiter was really friendly, the place is clean and bright and we will be definitely be going back...

quick brown fox said...

This is excellent. I shall be printing off the voucher and making a booking soon.

quick brown fox said...

PS - fantastic news for those hoping that the credit crunch hasn't hit Brockley property prices too badly:

http://www.findaproperty.com/displayprop.aspx?edid=00&salerent=0&pid=3095019

Anonymous said...

wow, what a bargain price for a flat in the best part of brockley. only a short walk from the station and the Aquarium!

Anonymous said...

Crikey! Sounds like central Brockley's finally got somewhere non-mung to hang out in! I wish them every success.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Can't stand the hippy communes full of crusties - this sounds right up my street.

Brockley Kate said...

Hmmm, I must admit I'd been put off by the very negative reviews but having read the responses to this thread I will definitely make an effort to give it a try!

Anonymous said...

Definitely agree about the lumpy tables.
It's difficult to concentrate on the food when you're worried about your wine toppling over.!

Anonymous said...

Well, my impressions are a little different. I find the place lacks the atmosphere to be a successful bar in the evening. As a restaurant they have yet to distinguish themselves. The menu is fairly predictable.

During the day it seems to be a favourite stop for mums with toddlers who love climbing on chairs and looking at the fish in the aquarium and generally running around. That is fine, but the layout is open and does not mix easily with anyone wanting to read a newspaper or have a conversation or even work on laptop. The kids take over. I am happy to leave them to it.

I cannot see that there have been any physical changes to the place since the management changed. They could have done something with the lighting.

I shall keep an eye on the restaurant, see how it progresses. Regular improvements to the menu will get me down there in the evenings. I think it could be a good place for parties.

Goodness knows we need some decent places in Brockley.

Anonymous said...

Don't want to put a dampener on the free wine offer, but in case the management do read this they should definitely change the house white as when I went it was pretty undrinkable (and I am not a picky wine drinker at all). But it was very pleasant other than that!

Anonymous said...

Whilst I can't stand kids in restaurants (WHY bring them? whose benefit is it for?) - what do you call a "predictable" menu?

Anonymous said...

A predictable menu is one that is not very adventurous and where, the next time you go there is nothing really interesting or special to try.

A restaurant has to keep the regular diners interested with new things as well as do classic dishes to a high standard.

Of course, all the other ingredients have to be there as well. I admire anyone who tries to run a successful restaurant/bar. It takes a while to find the right formula.

Anonymous said...

Kids in restaurants......now there is a divisive subject that deserves a topic of its own.

4x4 said...

I tried the Aquarium a few weeks ago and the new owners were very friendly. I thought the decor was very un-mung bean-i.e they hadn't tried to just paint the walls a dark colour, sanded the floors and filled the place with arty junk unlike other establishments in the locality. The 'distressed look' as far as interior design goes is so old hat now. Anyone opening a business in the area should look at places in Blackheath, East Dulwich, Clapham, Islington etc and look at the design of other successful places. Doing things on the cheap doesn't cut it these days. People other than the mung beans will happily pay more for good quality in a nice environment.
Ah yes, I forgot to mention the food. I am happy to report that the food was good and the menu was reasonably interested. I do think a menu needs to be updated regularly or alternatively there should be a specials menu.
It is great to see someone doing something properly and I hope all bloggers support them-even the mung beans.

4x4 said...

interesting-sorry!

finbar saunders said...

I quite like kids, but I couldn't eat a whole one...........fnarr fnarr

Anonymous said...

I agree on the comments around the un-mung design. Much better than other places which end up looking like Oxfam shops - with similar looking staff (unwashed hair, sandals etc.)

lb said...

Wannabe 'satirists' posting on this site would do well to observe that none of the type of people they're presumably trying to score points against have eaten mung beans since about 1976 (outside places like Totnes, anyway).

lb said...

Also everyone I've ever seen working in an Oxfam shop has been a) over 60, b) has hair that's not only washed but extravagantly blue-rinsed and c) looks like the kind of person whose closest approach to a sandal has been via an illustrated copy of the Old Testament.

Bea said...

They serve mung beans (and kidney beans, sprouting beans, butter beans and chick peas) at the investment bank canteen where I work!

Does that make investment bankers your typical Brockley mung bean eater or do they have to wear sandals to fully qualify?

Answers on a post card to Nick ….

nobbly brick said...

Do you work in a canteen Bea?

Headhunter said...

Funny the way we've come to categorise ourselves here by the food we eat. On the one hand we have the "mung bean eaters", whoever they may be and on the other side the "fried chicken eaters" (AKA chavs?). All a bit strange really...

Bea said...

Nope - Corporate Finance

Danja said...

I reckon the anonymii are hypocrits who lap up (mung) beansprouts from their local Chinese takeaway on the rare ocassions they manage to tear themselves from the fried chicken joints.

They probably don't know what they doing, though.

Brockley Kiwi said...

At the risk of using unfashionable trading analogies ... I am a very bullish about the new Aquarium. Food has been excellent the 3 times we have been. Give credit to the new management for the making the smaller incremental improvements - better service, new menu, more variety on the vino list (something other than echo falls) - that have made a huge difference to the place. I think the ball is in the court of Brockley to show support, buy a few tasty meals and allow the new management can make some bigger investments (i.e. flat tables). The Sea bass is fab ...

Anonymous said...

Going to Aquarium tonight on the strength of the high praise. Looking forward.

anonymous said...

hi everyone...i've been to aquarium few days ago and i must admit i was very impressed by the service....excellent:)...ohhh...AND THE CHEF...BRILLIANT:)

Anonymous said...

Hello, i went there with my friends and i found a great place to spend your time. They have an experienced chef that makes wonderful food, friendly manager and great waitress. I heard that soon they will have cocktail bar and some nights with dj's. I am looking forward to book for Valentine's Day.

max said...

Ok, I'm convinced, I'll give a go at the Aquarium.

Headhunter, what about fried mung-bean-fed-chicken? Could that be the food of universal brotherhood?

b. said...

went to aquarium last night - the food was fantastic and the service was second to none - the guys were really looking after us very well. We needed to get a takeaway as one of our party couldnt make it and they bent over backward to make this happen.

highly recommended.

Anonymous said...

Can the next Brockley drinks be held at Aquarium?

Headhunter said...

I like it.... Mung bean fed chicken. As long as it's organic and free range of course. Can we have it on the menu at the new Aquarium pleasea?

Nina said...

Whilst I can't stand kids in restaurants (WHY bring them? whose benefit is it for?)

Yeah, if you have kids you should stay at home for YEARS and never go out anywhere.

JP said...

Nina, this may be a surprise to some nursery lovers, but please don't eat in any restaurant where my child's meal subsidises your existence.

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,
I have to agree to most of your comments. Great restaurant, totally friendly staff. Its great to hang out there for a night with good food and a nice glas of wine. And even though I dont want to see them closing down they have been making my life misery.
They offer hiring the venue for parties with DJs and all. Genereally speaking this is a nice idea. Not when you live above it though. I had countless of sleepless night due to music hammering below my bedroom. I have a baby and get up at 6 every morning incl weekends and bank holidays so sleepless nights are already on my agenda anyway without a nightclub downstairs.
So here is my plea to you: Go on, Brockley. Make it a successful restaurant. Go and wine and dine there frequently. With a successful restaurant business hopefully they dont feel the need to turn it into a semi night club.
Thx

Anonymous said...

or, "Why move above a public venue if you want quiet?"

Anonymous said...

Fair point Anon; and I hope the wners are listening to you when you speak to them about it.

Went to Aquarium myself last week. Owner attentive, food was so so (2 x salmon spaghetti), but maybe this was just because I was expecting a white sauce and not a marie rose.

Wholeheartedly agree about kids in restaurants. They should be behaved and sitting down. Everyone is paying for a meal, and we would like to enjoy our conversations. We shouldn't be subsidising parent's babysitting fees. Their is a choice to have kids, one which I made, and you have to realise that there are places it is not appropriate to take them, if they want to run around. Either leave them at home, or take responsibility for your kid when it is out at a restaurant.

Hugh said...

Since when do people with children give an arse about spoiling it for others?

Tamsin said...

One doesn't always have much of a choice and things can change around you. It might not have been a much hired venue when he moved in.
I sympathise. We chose a road that was not a rat-run and had single decker buses going down it. Shortly after we moved in road humps were put on all the other roads in the area and a few years later buses privatised and so now they are huge double-deckers. NIMBY-ism, I know, but a bit tough when we had actually tried to take those very issues into consideration.

Hugh said...

NIMBYism is a fundamental principle of British life. We must do all we can to uphold it.

Very little traffic on our road.

Headhunter said...

I understand what you're saying Tamsin. You live on Pepys I think you have said, we had a friend who lived there and the double deckers literally shook the whole house as they passed. Must be tough. That's what concerns me about the impact of this 80 place nursery on Manor Ave. Currently we have a quiet street, I made the choice to live there based on this and now that is threatened

Comment said...

Agree with anon, I love kids but they must not run riot in a resturant or be allowed to do so by their parents.
It is not how we do things in England, I notice that a lot of people go to the continent where that kind of thing is tolerated, in fact encouraged asthey love the children to act out, it's almost part of the evenings entertainment.

It's not acceptable at home, you HAVE to teach your kids manners and consideration for others. People can argue about the kid needs to express itself, frankly I think that's nonsense, you are breeding and bringing up a brat. Who want give a monkey's about others or even you, when it grows up.

Rant over

If you

Tamsin said...

Help, you're honing in on me!
But no, actually it's Jerningham where the buses speed down the hill rather than Pepys, where they grind up it. Both equally bad - but at least the burden is spread. It was Erlanger which we were thinking about moving to but rejected because of the through traffic and speeding, opting for Jerningham instead, but then within five years they put speedhumps and traffic calming into Erlanger, but could not do so as effectively in Jerningham because of the (then) single-decker buses.

Danja said...

Buses only grind up Pepys after the stop, Tamsin. On our section (below the restrictor) they go 40+, to carry momentum up the hill.

Headhunter said...

I hate it when I'm heaving up Pepys Rd on the bike with a 10kg rucksack full of work crap on my back and a bus comes grinding up behind and it's always where the small islands are in the middle of the road just before the bus stop, so the bus gets right close up behind but can't pass because of the islands. I suppose it's an incentive to push that bit harder though...

Tamsin said...

Do you want to borrow the THS speedgun? Something we've been trying to get the manpower together for for ages is a concerted bit of evidence gathering.

Hugh said...

Headhunter, there aren't many cyclists who take on the Col de Telegraph Hill every day. Respect to you, sir.

Headhunter said...

Yep, I can whizz up Pepys Rd nowadays, but some days I'm loaded down with work stuff and a stack of shopping having stopped at Tezzies or Asda on the way home. On those days the legs buuuurn. Also my commuting bike ain't exactly the lightest model...

Tamsin - You've got a speed gun? I don't think anyone obeys the 20mph speed limit. Those big neon signs telling drivers to slow if they go above 20 are permanently lit. To be honest though I go faster than 20 on my bike going down Pepys.....

BrockleyBiker said...

My current (thankfully soon to be replaced) bike struggles up that hill when fully ladened with shopping. You can practically here it wheezing once it gets to the top.

nobbly brick said...

Pepys is for jessies, Vicars Hill sorts out the men from the boys

Hugh said...

Vicar's Hill is fun but rather short. I prefer Drakefell Road from the Nunhead side. Long and it gets steeper as you go up. Burn sets in as you come through the chicane and get your head down for the final ascent.

drakefell debaser said...

I will start cycling to work in the next week or so and was going to use the Nunhead approach to Drakefell Rd rather than tackling Pepys Rd. I am looking for a pain free option to start with but it looks like I am screwed either way.

If you see carcass on the side of the road, that will probably be me.

Headhunter said...

Good luck to ya! You'll be whisking up Drakefell in no time

Anonymous said...

Hugh - when is your bike going to be fixed? Seems like it has been at the 'repairers' for a long tmie. Credit crunch problems?

Hugh said...

Sicne you ask, Anon, it's been in all this week. It's three years old and they found three cracks in the frame. Disaster, you might think. Not so. Evans are replacing it with a 2009 edition frame for free. How cool is that, bubba?

Headhunter said...

They're replacing your 3 year old Specialized Roubaix? Evans don't offer service like that and surely it's not still under guarantee by Specialized?

Hugh said...

Believe it and weep, big boy.

Headhunter said...

Still, you probably paid above market rate buying from Evans in the 1st place but if they're offering a free replacement frame that ain't bad!

Hugh said...

Since they mistakenly charged me £2.50 for my last Stage 2, I think I've made some back.

And since all bike shops charge the same for well-known brands, it's unlikely I overpaid.

[i]Haven't you heard of online price comparison, old man?

Headhunter said...

Well my last major bike purchase was a Focus Cayo from Wiggle, but I remember there being some disparity from the major retailers for the usual names - Specialized, Bianchi, Cannondale etc etc depending on where you went and Evans seemed to be up there on price.

Actually talking of cracks in carbon frames, the Cayo is my 1st carbon bike and the stories you hear of the carbon suddenly failing scare me. At least steel bends and breaks slowly rather than suddenly collapsing whilst you're whistling through some major intersection at 30mph!

david said...

But what are the thoughts on the relative "merits" of the local hills.

I find Jerningham a much harder climb than Pepys ...

I must admit though that I've not tried the Nunhead to Brockley run up Drakfell on the bike although I can see that it would definitely be solid.

Headhunter said...

I think Jerningham is longer than Pepys as it curves round to meet the roundabout at the top. I have only biked up Drakefell once and can't specifically remember how it was

coffee lover said...

how disappointing that one of few places now to have a coffee in Brockley serves up a seriously bad brew. Please oh please La Brocca invest in some decent coffee - you dont hold back on charging top dollar so dont hold back on taking the p with the quality. The best place for coffee in Brockley is undoubtedly Aquarium

Anonymous said...

Tsk. Cyclists. Nick went to all that trouble of setting up a cycle lane last year and you don't use it, but delight in obstructing the free flowing traffic of other threads ;-)

Hugh said...

Headhunter, I think there's a lot of nonsense and macho snobbery talked about bike frames. My Roubaix is a dream to ride and it would take a lot to tempt me away from its super-smooth ride, if that were possible at all.

nobbly brick said...

Not through excessive pride of the Borough, but I do have a frame which was made in Lewisham - Youngs - bit old now but still lean and hungry (the bike)

Anonymous said...

Not being funny, but I ride very occasionally, and I'm hardly what you call a regular cyclist but all the hills around here are a piece of piss. I sometimes go up Peyps with a ruck sack on my back full of shopping, and two bags of shopping hanging off the handle bars and I barely notice it. What are you lot made of?

Anonymous said...

Vegetarian diets.

Anonymous said...

true.

Monkeyboy said...

Well Hugh is hauling his ego remember.

Monkeyboy said...

oh, sorry. Supposed to ad a ;-) after that last comment....

Hugh said...

Heh.

Headhunter said...

Well Anon, the local hills ain't exactly a mountain stage of the Tour de France, but not to be completely sniffed at. If you find yourself breezing up them so easily, you obviously have natural talent and strength, why not join a cycling club like Dulwich Paragon and learn what real riding is all about and perhaps start racing? You don't hav to bring a rucksack and bags of shopping

Headhunter said...

Nobbly - Never heard of Youngs. Is this a frame builder based locally? I only know Whitcomb.

Anon - I think all the conversation about Aquarium, bad coffee an bitching about kids in restaurants has died away so it's pobably safe for the cyclists to take over

nobbly brick said...

Youngs used to have a bike shop on Lee High Road (there's still a bike shop there, opposite the garage) and also a shop in West Wickham. Years ago they also had a shop in East Greenwich. They made high quality hand-made frames for many years - similar heritage to Whitcomb - not quite as high profile as Roberts in Anerly, but frames made by, among other people, Tommy Quick (TJ Quick). he had a shop on Stanstead Road and made frames in his workshop at the back (I had one of his frames as well).

Yes, I used to know all the bike shops in the area...

;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the invite Headhunter but like I said I'm not a regular cyclist. Maybe i do have a natural talent for cycling but unfortunately I'm just not into it, i'd get bored.

Dumbed Down said...

Hugh, I don't there's anything "macho" about my snobbery with bike frames it's just plain, honest-to-goodness vanilla-flavoured! From what I see, early 30's, corporate types with bundles of cash who've just got into road-cycling, usually end up going to Evans for their 'first bike' and end up buying Specializeds. You fit that profile. S-Works Roubaix's/Tarmacs are actually very good frames when they don't crack (Boonen/Bettini won World Championships on them - but then they'd probably beat most people even if they were riding shopping bikes with baskets), it's just that they're a bit *ahem* ubiquitous. If you see somebody (invariably with unshaven legs..) struggling up a mountain on an overgeared S-Works in a continental sportive/Gran Fondo, you can bet your ass they're British..

Personally, If I had the dosh (1500 quid), I'd get Chas Roberts or Dario Pegoretti/some obscure Italian builder to knock me up something in 953/Spirit - I'm insanely jealous of people who are financially able to to this.

I wouldn't go near Witcombs anymore (although they unbent a Gillott road frame I'd wrapped around a tree in a Bexley wood in 1979). Most of the stuff in there is overpriced junk; they were a serious bike business thirty or more years ago (and where Mr Serotta was apprenticed), but they've failed to keep up with the times. Seems the only way they can stay in business is to open two days a week and overcharge - have you seen the two skip-sourced bikes they're displaying? Only 500 quid each to you Sir. Wouldn't get 150 on eBay. Delusional. Sadly, there's probably some misty-eyed fool out there though.

(Apologies to the majority of you for whom most of this is meaningless and for posting OT)

Graeme (I'm sure HH guessed that!)

Graeme said...

Nobbly

Graeme said...

Aargh! html failure

http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/builders/youngs-grandini.html

nobbly brick said...

Yes Graeme, that's the one. I sent that bloke some pictures of mine but they never appeared on the website...

possibly not 'classic' enough.

Anonymous said...

Aquarium is no more. Landlord has taken possession. Another recession victim

Anonymous said...

Or maybe it just wasn't that good. Shame to see it go though, but if Toad's Mouth can survive then others need to learn.

Maradoll said...

With the greatest respect to the people who ran Aquarium; when I went I wasn't impressed and it kept me from coming back.

I truly believe that a great restaurant in Brockley would clean up. Even with the recession.

Headhunter said...

Already gone? I thought they were trying to extend their opening hours? At this rate we'll be back to square one in Brockley with none of these shops left open

Anonymous said...

It wasn't good though was it? I feel sorry for the owners but they didn't have a clue.

Hugh said...

I don't think there are enough takers around here to keep a bar like that going.

Anyone still expecting the Talbot to rise from the ashes? As I said before, it won't.

tyrwhitt michael said...

Latest on the Talbot rumour mill is that a Gastro Pub in Brixton/Herne Hill has bought the freehold - out bidding the Honor Oak.

Don't know if it is true but I think the Honor Oak bar staff are still living there at present.

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