The Wells 1

30 Well Walk , London, NW3 1BX

  • The Wells 2016 1
  • The Wells, sofa area

SquareMeal Review of The Wells

“Great pub, lovely food and friendly staff”, notes a fan of this gentrified Georgian pub – a fetching asset in the green and pleasant Hampstead hinterland. The ground-floor bar is well stocked with real ales, board games and comfy sofas, while the smart upstairs restaurant cuts a dash with its white linen tablecloths and a menu of aspirational assemblages. A plate of confit duck with celeriac purée, greens and devilled sauce is pure gastropub; alternatively, keep it traditional with smoked haddock kedgeree and a soft-boiled egg or Cumberland sausages and mash. The char-grill knocks out dry-aged steaks and posh burgers, while daily specials might bring venison fillet with butternut squash purée, parsnip gratin and blackberry jus. To finish, play it safe with strawberry pavlova or dark chocolate pot. In keeping with its gastronomic ambitions, The Wells’ wine list runs deep, with plenty of desirable options by the glass or carafe.

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8.0

Food & Drink: 8.6

Service: 7.4

Atmosphere: 7.6

Value: 8.4

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 4.0

Gourmand Gunno platinum reviewer 19 June 2014

Green and leafy Hampstead feels as if it could be part of the countryside rather than just a few tube stops north of Euston or Camden. Being a world removed from the London we all probably know better may have its charms, but what the Wells gains in terms of location, our group of five dining there recently on a weekday evening felt it lost in terms of atmosphere and service. We arrived at 9pm, virtually the last people in the upstairs restaurant (the more informal downstairs bar did admittedly seem more lively) and despite all being in either our late 20s or 30s, we were by some way the youngest, perhaps somewhat frowned upon by the other diners, we being dressed in jeans and similar rather than either tweed or pearl (I joke not). Our server was somewhat condescending in attitude and proceeded to make a series of lapses without either apology or humour. The table itself had five chairs, but only cutlery for four, an error that took some time to right and required our prompting; the red wine was served before the white, with some spilt on (but not cleaned up from) the table; bread came late and had to be requested a second time; there was an inordinately long wait between our first bowl of pre-dinner olives and the second… I could go on, but it is a fairly clear picture. On the more positive side, it was mostly hard to fault the food or the drink, which was quite reasonably priced too. The Wells specialises in broadly European dishes with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Presentation was superb and we particularly rated the grilled beetroot and goats cheese salad among the starters, the Icelandic cod with spinach and artichoke among the mains. There were some disappointments though too among the food: the English asparagus starter, while fresh, was undermined by the unnecessary addition of rather crudely grated Parmesan cheese; and, the venison meatball with chilli ragu main could, frankly, have been any old meat rather than that of the deer. The overall experience was undoubtedly helped by a Hugel’s Alsace Pinot Blanc and Chave’s Cote du Rhone, but the fact remained, we were inescapably in a fairly average gastro-pub. On finishing at 11, we were lucky to make last orders at the now almost deserted downstairs bar, but were hardly made to feel welcome, with the lights being turned up to full just as we sat down…

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Lynn W. platinum reviewer 22 August 2012

We had a very rare hot weekend in August and wouldn't normally go out for dinner on a Sunday evening, but this was a birthday – we wanted somewhere local and reliable without traipsing into town. It was so hot that evening we were reluctant to go upstairs to the dining room, and when shown to a corner table in the red room weren't sure we'd done the right thing. We chose to sit by the open windows instead. This was a good move as it caught the breeze and felt we were part of the outdoor life going on around us. We've always been happy with the food and wine here. This time we had salads to start – lovely crunchy chicory, salty ham hock, with peas and mustard dressing a great combination, if anything a bit too big at main course size; the roast beetroot with pecans and goats cheese also said to be good. We felt we had to go for a chilled white wine due to the hot weather, the Tin Pot Hut sauvingnon blanc from NZ appealed, so most of the main courses sounded a bit heavy for this. The chicken with garlic cream and thyme jus was not adventurous but nicely done, perfectly cooked with lots of flavour. A shared English strawberry pavlova was nice and light to finish. The upstairs restaurant wasn't busy and we had good service from the small team of staff, the main problem trying to keep cool. Most people were draped over the tables and steps outside sinking lots of cold beer.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Food fiend platinum reviewer 16 August 2011

Another local – you cant move for the abundance of gastropubs in North London, and this is one of the goodies. The Wells is a lot more posh than my other favourites up North. The pub lives in a leafy Hampstead street where one can only dream of residing in (4 storey properties and the like). There is seating outside, as well as upstairs – but the downstairs has no booking policy. It tends to get busy with the walkers, plus dogs are welcome, so its even more lovely in my opinion. Foodwise – delicious. I again went for the simple burger choice but it was lovely and meaty – as a simple dish like this should be. It came with homemade coleslaw and probably some of the best chips id had in a long while. It costed around the £8 mark so not extortionate. My companion had the roast – and this was huge. At £15.95, i think he got a decent meal and the plate had a healthy portion of meat, oven roasted veggies, yorkies and gravy. If i was feeling very hungry, this would be it. There was a decent array of other choices, fish, duck, pies – but nothing seemed too overpriced and other diners did seem to be enjoying it all. Puddings – i refrained but companion had the sorbet which looked lovely – other choices were banoffi pie and eton mess – everything i saw others eating looked very well presented, not just plonked on a plate. The Wells obviously takes a lot of pride in presentation/ Im giving the Wells good marks because service was great and it certainly has a very good and cheery atmosphere. The food i had was delicious, and its one of the few pubs where im sure ill break my ‘one time only’ rule and will be back. Its ideal for a stop over after a leisurely walk in Hampstead but just make sure you are hungry and ready to feast!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Junglefresh. gold reviewer 01 April 2010

My wife and I have liked the Wells for quite a time – it is about the only restaurant in Hampstead “proper” that we like to go to – casual and busy downstairs, welcoming and intimate upstairs (longer, better menu). I did go off it for a while having reported what appeared to be a breach of hygene regulations which I witnessed – even though it was properly investigated (which resulted in an assurance that the person in question was not involved in food preparation in the kitchen). However, we went to an amusing play at the New End Theatre (W is for Banker) and four of us thought we'd give the Wells restaurant (upstairs) a try. I am very glad we did, and so were the others. The setting is great – even though it was raining – and on a bright summer's evening takes a lot of beating. The bread was seriously good (hearty, real bread and not the refined white flour tasteless sort) and the people serving seemed genuinely concerned to ensure we were properly looked after. The attitude was not the purely efficient and competent sort one finds at places like the Wolseley, but less detatched, less arch, and more homely. The Petit Syrah was incredibly good value for money too, which helped keep things cheerful. The menu is not long, but we found no difficulty ordering from among the starters. The Jerusalem Artichoke soup was familiar but good, the different salads delivered “what it said on the tin”. The main course I had of confit duck leg with dauphnoise potatoes was again familiar but hit the spot and the red cabbage which came with it was unsurpassed as far as I am concerned. My wife agreed (she made the same choice). The rib-eye steak looked good and was enjoyed, the same is true for the vegetarian risotto. The deserts were very tempting, but we were all being good. We left full of praise, and we will be back soon…

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Sophie D. 20 September 2009

A friend recommended the burgers here, and we weren't disappointed. A lovely pub with a warm, comfortable atmosphere. We had a burger with cheese and bacon and the grilled aubergine. Both were very well cooked and extremely tasty. We're on a quest for the best London burger to fill the gap from our favourite burger place in Sydney, and this burger is topping the bill. Locals reserve tables, so it may be a good idea to book a table in advance. We will definitely be regulars.

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