Londoners normally don’t think of Farringdon as a particularly residential area, so it was to some surprise I found The Well full of satisfied diners on a Saturday lunch even with reported rail network problems. What is the reason for this popularity? Well the rustic decor is very inviting especially with warm brickwork and distressed wooden furniture; the floor to ceiling windows certainly helps as guests can peer in to see the type of food being served. They also have a very colourful,vibrant-looking cocktail lounge in the basement.
A detailed examination of their menu might indicate the reason for their success: a wide selection of British classics with a smattering of modern European choices and their support of locally UK-sourced ingredients such as mussels from the Shetland Isles and trout from Chalk Stream.
For starters, I tried their Brixham king scallop and oyster gratin; which I would award high marks simply for attempting a dish few restaurants would offer and even less so for a gastropub. The scallops were marginally overcooked and not exactly king-sized but the taste was divine with a perfect mix of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and butter to make the gratin.
I visited during British Food Fortnight, where they brought back forgotten classic British dishes from the 18th century. They offered a mock turtle stew that instantly drew my attention. What is mock turtle you might ask? It is meant to resemble green turtle meat which was eaten in the 19th century as a sign of opulence; but it often used a calf’s brain or internal organs to imitate the texture of turtle meat. Thankfully, their version only used beef cheeks with healthy doses of button mushrooms and carrots. There are also creamy mash and farm-fresh cabbage to ensure the whole package is extremely filling.
It might be the end of the strawberry season soon, but the Kentish varieties they offered were still plump and sweet. Increasingly servings of natural fruits are more popular than less healthy desserts with an abundance of butter and processed sugar.
The throng of people dining during Saturday lunch might also be due to the fact they have a splendid bottomless brunch offer. For 2 courses at £30 or 3 courses at £35, they also offer unlimited Prosecco, Bloody Marys, Mimosas or house red, white or rosé wine. It is an offer not to be missed.
Please note the mock turtle stew will be available until October 2nd during British Food Fortnight.