The dining rooms above this very soigné Georgian pub are a useful addition to Hampstead’s relatively limited restaurant scene. Three handsome spaces, each with good acoustics and their own colour scheme and fireplace, make the Wells perfect for family occasions – accordingly, Sunday lunch is a hot ticket.
The menu is appealing without being faddish or daring; there’s a section devoted to steaks. Watermelon, feta and mint soup topped with toasted pumpkin seeds was a refreshing twist on gazpacho. Perfectly grilled scallops came with crisp bacon, samphire and two fashionable pureés: shallot and rocket. Piping-hot mains prepared with skill and exuberance followed swiftly: beautifully crisp-skinned sea bass on tender fennel, courgette, chorizo, green beans and red pepper with a precision-chopped provençale salsa; and swordfish on a terrific salad base of avocado, watercress, green beans, rocket, frisée and endive. Both dishes were generous and full of colour, vigour and flavour.
A standout pavlova with marshmallowy meringue studded with upright strawberries looked almost heraldic; a crème brûlée was peerless. Add solicitous service and well-chosen wines at friendly prices and the Wells is a winner. Downstairs has a posh neighbourhood-pub vibe with leather sofas, backgammon boards and as much emphasis on wines as beers.