Just as a pizza restaurant should be judged on its margarita, a good British pub should be critiqued on its roast. Why? Because it’s the one dish (no matter how good the establishment is), that is so often a disappointment. Finding that breed, sprinkling a little Sunday magic via perfectly crisp potatoes and cracking crackling, is a rare and wonderous thing.
I didn’t exactly ‘find’ The Well. With my mind on gravy, I booked based on its owners, Tom and Ed Martin (who also have The Gun in Canary Wharf and feature regularly in Time Out’s ‘Best Roasts’). It’s also situated in the foodie borough of Clerkenwell, which, I hoped, meant greatness by association.
The small but bright room (shabby chic wood tables, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a huge vase of flowers on the bar) looked more restaurant than pub, but welcoming nonetheless. Good first impressions were further cemented by the swift arrival of a delicious (and complimentary) selection of breads as we perused the menu. This didn’t take long (though surely delicious, we obviously ignored all non-Sunday appropriate dishes as they did not befit the experiment).
The beef was pleasingly pink (another rarity in the world of roast dinners), tasted happily bred and took the correct amount of time to chew. The whole roast chicken ticked the boxes of crisp skin and plump flesh singing of rosemary and lemon. Sides were even better, particularly the mini cauliflower, which had the perfect cheese/white sauce ratio and looked damn cute too. I also liked the individual pots of gravy/horseradish/bread sauce – everything tasting properly homemade. An excellent cobbler of rich buttery pastry and tangy apple and apricot, drenched in jersey cream, marked a fine and gluttonous end to proceedings.
So, if my made-up-in-my-own-head theory is correct, The Well is a brilliant gastro offering which should deliver every day of the week. If my theory turns out to be utter crap, they do a fine Sunday roast.
180 St John Street