The first day we came to Greenwich was the first day we met Tom. We’d just seen the estate agent regarding our flat and popped into a cosy little pub down the street for some lunch afterwards. Little did we know that the shabby former student bar-cum-restaurant was soon to be giving Gordon Ramsay a run for his money.
Tom was a force of nature. As head waiter, head chef and head raconteur of the Green Pea, Tom didn’t believe in offering his patrons a paper menu with a list of food, he just reeled off what he was serving that day from memory and more often than not simply told you what you wanted. And then told you off if you didn’t finish your vegetables. But he did it with such charisma that nobody minded.
An eccentric Irishman (raised in an orphanage in Sligo, we now know) with a flat cap and a check shirt, Tom’s food was easily some of the best in London. The Trip Advisor reviews agreed when he broke into the top ten ranking and the Green Pea’s popularity exploded. The pies were “to die for”, he served “the best ham in London” and his chocolate cake was a thing of beauty. I won’t even go into the magic this man could perform with a cabbage.
My wife often borrowed books from Tom. He had all sorts – from Vladimir Nabokov and Truman Capote to Edna O’Brien. His bookshelves were a reflection of the man himself; scruffy yet immaculate. And just like his menus, you could pick something off them seemingly at random and be sure that you would thoroughly enjoy it.
There are ~20,000 restaurants in London. To this day the Green Pea is still ranked in the top ~100 and is easily the best Irish restaurant.
You will be missed. RIP you spectacular bastard, and thanks for the grub
That’s a lovely article. I just learned that Tom died and The Green Pea shut. He was a special man and it was a wonderful place for me and other Irish & non-Irish friends when we were living in London. It was like you had just walked into a party at your favourite mad uncle’s house, and he happened to be a really exceptional cook. Lots of great memories there. Thanks for mentioning him.