‘Do you like it? Do you like it? Come on, you must like it. It’s great!’ That’s Tom, a friend of ours who bought a house in West Norwood three years ago, when the area was, he admits, ‘a bit shit’. Since then a monthly market has opened – the West Norwood Feast – and more recently, a swish new food pub.
‘The more you like this place, the more the value of my house goes up.’ Tom’s got a point – nothing spearheads gentrification like a destination eatery.
Our pulled pork burger served on a blue-rimmed plate was merely good, though could have been great had the un-toasted bun not soaked up all the moisture from the sweet, tender meat and turned the last few mouthfuls into a sort of porky paste. The small sharing plates – bruschetta, Buffalo chicken wings, flatbreads with dips – were decent enough, if lacking a little imagination.
The beer selection isn’t bad, with four regularly changing ales, though these are £4 a pop. Craft devotees will have to make do with bottles. Hackney-based brewers Pressure Drop and Five Points are both represented, while the Camden Town Brewery offering goes beyond the ubiquitous Hells Lager and Pale Ale.
Out back there’s a sizeable patio with picnic benches and a barbecue enclosure packing some serious hardware (including a smoker), so expect the large indoor space – all bare brick and artfully knackered sofas – to be deserted on warmer evenings.
There are very few new ideas being put to work at the Great North Wood, and those visiting from areas of the city already overrun with pop-ups and haircuts may struggle to find anything special about its by-the-book remit. But if, like our mate Tom, you moved to this area with no good pubs because it was a relatively affordable place to live, you’ve now got a great new local.