Wednesday 26 October 2011

The Crooked Well, Grove Lane, south London

A new gastro pub in Camberwell, the Crooked Well is housed in a stately early nineteenth-century building with high ceilings, big windows and clean, stripped-back decor. Even on a Tuesday evening, it can be tough to get a table in the restaurant area, so you may be pointed to the bar. But beware, some of the bar tables are really too low to eat at. The food is traditional British fare, often enlivened with a modern twist. Among the starters, the pork belly, served with tuna creme fraiche, capers and gremolata  (£5.90), is a small and surprisingly-delicate dish. The presentation is superb and the swirls of pork crackling delicious, but the meat itself can be overpowered by the other flavours, especially the capers. For the main course, the hearty and hot fish pie (£26.50 for two) is a good choice on an autumnal evening. Beneath the mash potato topping, which is decorated with two king prawns, there is plenty of well-seasoned salmon. You'll also need a side order of vegetables, which are a further £3, but are nicely-steamed.  There is a lengthy wine list and some beers, such as Amstel, Doom Bar and Kronenbourg on tap. Although the Crooked Well is often packed, the service is polished and professional. 7/10