It’s a good sign if you’re waiting for a pal in a restaurant for half an hour, with only the menu to read – and the more you look at it, the more interesting it gets. The Crooked Well gets a resounding thumbs up for this, and for the friendly and attentive service to the solo customer.
This much-refurbished pub, then gastropub, now bar-restaurant is under new ownership, and, boy, are they trying to make an impression. The elegantly reworked dining space has a whiff of the modern Edwardian about it.
Tall, upholstered bar chairs perched on Mediterranean ceramic tiles at the wide wooden bar encourage lingering over an aspirational collection of gins and whiskies – cocktails are a special feature of the drinks list, which includes a well-priced selection of less commonplace wines.
The British-with-a-twist menu mixes updated gastropub staples with more exotic game and fish dishes. Starters were a tad disappointing: ‘crisp polenta’ chips were less than crisp, with the polenta more mushy than grainy.
Sliced pork belly rolled into whirls with tuna crème fraîche was tooth-coatingly dry. We skipped the rabbit and bacon pie (£22.50 for two) in favour of a tender duck leg partnered winningly with tomato and saffron aioli, chorizo, chickpeas and butter beans.
The chargrilled William Rose rib-eye steak was flavoursome and perfectly cooked, served with Café de Paris butter (herby, spicy) and roasted tomatoes – though the chips were disappointing.
The cheese selection was tempting, but we only had room to share a dense, flourless almond cake, with plump, baked gooseberries and a deliciously light elderberry pannacotta. We wished we’d ordered two.
Breakfasts now served every Saturday and Sunday from 9am. Last orders at 11am.