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16 Grove Lane
Sitting snugly on one of Camberwell's finest Georgian streets, this high-ceilinged, high-spec gastropub looks the part with its worn floorboards, metro tiles, vintage lighting and Toile de Jouy wallpaper. The kitchen delivers “consistently good food” and fashionable plates ranging from crispy salt-and-pepper squid with spiced mayo to mackerel with white beans, courgettes and chorizo or pork belly with sauté savoy cabbage, sage and apple purée. Sharing dishes such as chicken, leek and wild mushroom pie or pineapple sponge with golden syrup also make this a great choice for a dinner à deux, while midweek lunch deals (Tues-Fri) offer two courses for a tenner. Ales from the likes of Butcombe and Whitstable Bay get the thumbs-up and the wine list ventures beyond usual pub clichés. The Crooked Well also has some of the “most friendly and welcoming staff in London”, according to one regular.
Printed on two sides of A4, The Crooked Well’s list has the kind of clear, no-nonsense, no-frills approach that you’d expect from a neighbourhood gastropub in an average area. The vast majority of wines are under £30, with 20 of them by the glass and there are plenty of real gems in the selection. There’s an obvious amount of care been taken in formulating and preparing this list.
Best Roast Chicken
16 Grove Lane
020 7252 7798
Denmark Hill Station 254m
Loughborough Junction Station 1km
Blue Elephant Theatre 992m
Premier Cinema 1km
Mon-Sat 12.30-12M (Mon 5pm- Fri-Sat -1am) Sun 12N-11pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
We wnt to the Crooked well last night for the first time. Had heard good things about it but hadn't got round to visiting. We arrived early and had cocktails, very good. Then were brought over the menu to look at. We sat down dead on out booked time and the waitress was lovely. I stsrted with salt and pepper squid, very good. My husband had a pork terrine, also good. I had the steak with flavoured butter and my husband had duck leg. We sharded a pear tatin pudding which was delicious. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening. Will be returning soon.
Food + drink: 4
I've talked before about the difficulty of the Restaurant of Death. That sad spot repeatedly filled with restaurateur after restaurateur desperately trying to work with a location that no one ever seems to go to. The Crooked Well is definitely in one of these, or rather has been. In recent incarnations it's been a Parisian cafe, a local pub and a trendy cocktail bar, and that's just the last two years.
The stripped back aesthetic, necessary to remove layers of paint from so many recent refurbs, is both understandable and sympathetic and the new owners have done a fair amount with the look. Currently, comfortable wooden chairs and pre-laid tables occupy most of the old boozer. There are a few sofas, but this is a restaurant that you feel comfortable having a drink in, rather than a pub. In short, the refurb works pretty well.
A cheerfully chippy website describes the story of four friends settling on a pub to share and show their passion for great food, the kind of guff that so often ends up being a marketing line, here I'm fairly sure it's not. The service shows this, on our Wednesday night visit it's friendly, relaxed and assured.
Elsewhere on the website they talk about an obsession with British food, in actuality a loose descriptor for modern gastro style dishes, a loose concatenation of rustic, European influences. Starters, generally around the £7/8 mark include smoked salmon, pork belly (with an intriguing tuna creme fresche) and squid ink risotto. On first visit we didn't sample any of them, though I was sorely tempted by duck confit and a chicken terrine served with a mango salsa.
Following beers from a reasonable selection, we went for the house special, a shared rabbit and bacon pie with a side of greens. Thankfully there's no effort to sell up either on the reasonably priced menu or wine list, and along with an enormous fluffy puff of pastry crust, the buttery, wilted greens are more than adequate. Underneath the fresh baked crust there's almost more filling than we can cope with. At least a rabbit's worth of meat, slow cooked to melting point with just enough bacon to give the rich flavour it a salty smoky overcoat.
Stuffed and struggling after finishing the braised bunny, the atmosphere's enough to keep us for a coffee, though neither of us have enough room for puds. I could possibly have had a go on their cheeseboard, £2 a lump with some really interesting suggestions. Next time though, and there will be a next time. I think this place is a stayer.
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