Arek Bober – formerly from Pollen Street Social – is heading this impressively renovated gastropub in a quiet St. John’s Wood residential street. Although originally a 19th century hotel and until recently a family pub in a Grade 2 listed building my N/NW/E genetic postcode felt slightly startled by the W1 vibe of the new Crocker’s Folly. After passing the suited porter (very posh!) we entered a huge space separated into three areas, a bar, a casual seating area and a very formal and impressive dining area at the back. Ceilings are church-like with gigantic chandeliers and detailed ornaments. Unfortunately I had sufficient lack of foresight to not take any photos of any of this, so I employ your imagination.
There are Lebanese influences on the menu and wine list, but boring as we were we opted for a bottle of Malbec, Tartare, Oysters and the cut of the day, an impressive 1200g T-bone straight from their charcoal Josper. Sides of Truffle Mash and glazed carrots were also ordered. It was very dark and I was a bit tipsy so the photos aren’t the best …
The staff didn’t really know where the meat came from or what kind of oysters they were serving – we started quite a commotion just by asking them, major discussions ensuing. I blame this on the restaurant just having opened but would hope that this gets resolved soon as it is a pretty reasonable question for a £45 piece of meat!
The tartare was delicious (was it a Clarence Court Egg Yolk on there? I will never know!) and the pickled girolles were absolutely amazing, really nice texture and nutty flavour. Every tartare should have them! Every tartare!
The steak was excellent. I have to admit I didn’t expect it to be – probably because as a lover of Mayfair’s Goodman I feel arrogant and entitled about all steak houses ever since – but this was actually on par with anything grass fed I ever got on Maddox Street. Perfectly cooked, nice char, good amounts of fat and most importantly a lot of it! Excellent truffle mash and plenty of béarnaise sauce, yummy!
We also had a lemon meringue type dish for pudding … not very memorable and also only one of two available choices despite some nice items on the dessert menu. Opening troubles, I guess!
Service was very friendly but overly attentive with way too many needless interruptions from staff. Things got a bit neurotic with the refilling of glasses and constant check-ins on our well being . The dining room was almost empty so maybe the waiters just felt a bit bored. Interestingly, towards the end of the meal we ended up chatting to one of the waitresses who apparently previously worked on Regent Street in an Italian “restaurant” for west-end tourists. She also stated that her favourite food in London is Pret a Manger. Hmm. Not sure what to make of this … but she was absolutely lovely.
With around £150 of damage, Crocker’s Folly is not über expensive but certainly not a budget meal. Somehow I wasn’t taken by it, the place felt too vast, too dark and too forced – despite good food. Once it gets busier things might look and feel differently, but personally I probably won’t return for a full meal anytime soon. Good steak though, and worth a pint or two just to marvel at the interior, ideally during daylight.
[6/10] Crocker’s Folly, 24 Aberdeen Pl, St Johns Wood, NW8 8JR London