The Crooked Well, Camberwell
The Crooked Well is a new restaurant just off Camberwell Grove in South East London, and the latest addition to my list of favourite local restaurants. I first heard about this restaurant from a work colleague, who visited the restaurant when it first opened in June. He liked the food so much that he could not stop bugging me to try it out. His suggestion was later confirmed by food critic Jay Rayner here, so I decided to pay a visit.
We got our dinner booking for 9pm on a Saturday night, the restaurant was packed when we arrived. The actual dining area is not big, it is decorated with chic wallpaper and a modern fireplace, but food is also served in the bar area.
We were spoiled for choice with the menu, there were seven dishes to choose from for each course, and on top of that there were one special and two sharing main dishes, not to mention the homemade ice cream and selection of cheeses! The restaurant also does a ‘Cocktail of the Day’ from the bar, the one I had was bursting with fresh blackberries.
Pork belly, tuna creme fraiche, capers and gremolata. I did not expect a cold starter, but it was a lovely surprise as the chilled fat in the thin slices of pork belly worked perfectly with the sourness from the capers and lemon from the gremolata. The tuna creme fraiche stuffing was quite subtle, the fishiness came through nicely without being overpowering.
Squid ink risotto, sauteed scallop, salsa rossa. The combination sounded lovely on the menu, however it was let down by the execution. The scallops were cooked but not caramelised on the outside, they had gone a bit mushy, a sign that they may have been cooked in a under-heated pan, and started to boil in their own juice. The risotto was overcooked, with no bite to the rice at all. Saying that, there was a big group starting their meals at a similar time to us, I could imagine how stressful the kitchen was.
Roast venison, braised red cabbage, celeriac puree. The venison was very tender, cooked to a beautiful pink in the middle. Celeriac puree was silky smooth, it made me remember why classic combinations like this never go out of date.
Pork cutlet, olive oil mash, apple puree, gremolata and scratchings. It was definitely one of the most popular dishes that night, as I kept seeing them flying out of the kitchen. It was a generous piece of charred pork cutlet, I could see the slightly pink meat on the bone, it was delicious.
It was nearly 11pm by the time we finished our mains, and we were well fed by the hearty portions so we did not order any dessert. Although my starter was not ideal, we enjoyed our meal at The Crooked Well a lot. Judging by the standard of the other dishes we had, I am willing to believe it was a one off. I was very pleased to see such a good restaurant on my door step, I cannot wait to try out all the other exciting dishes! Probably on a Sunday afternoon so I only need one meal that day :)
The Crooked Well