Head to this delightful restaurant in London’s infamous Camden for a night out on the town and a phenomenal menu, which includes the best roast you’ll ever have feasted on. Read on to find out exactly what’s in store for you and learn about their talented chef.
The Colonel Fawcett
In three words: Assured, Playful, Masterful
The Lowdown: For the past few months, The Colonel Fawcett in Camden has been picking up accolades the way most of us are picking up the sniffles. This charming, quirky and down-to-earth pub has been catapulted into the limelight recently after being bestowed with the Observer Food Monthly’s award for the Best Roast in the UK.
Talented head chef Andy Evans has made this a possibility by providing a menu that combines great ingredients with exciting and sometimes unusual concepts, never losing sight of what actually makes a superb meal.
Location: Probably not somewhere you’re going to stumble upon – The Colonel Fawcett is located in a winding backstreet just off the main drag of Camden Road. Trust us, even if you’re a seasoned Southerner who never strays North of the river at the weekend, this is an expedition truly worth it.
The Occasion: When you want a damn good roast in a cosy pub that has some refreshing quirks and perks. Given its location near Primrose Hill, it makes the ideal stop off after a big ramble to see the skyline – take a group of mates and indulge in the perfect Sunday.
Decor: Exceedingly unpretentious and wonderfully comfortable. Pale wooden stairs and duck-egg blue walls give the place a farmhouse air, while mounted animal heads on the wall wearing ski goggles keep everything a bit frivolous and lighthearted, as if one is in a very eccentric dining room. Upstairs there is more space with a beautiful oriental mural decorating one wall, a battered piano for tinkering and leather sofas to sink into.
Atmosphere: Come on a Sunday and it’s completely buzzing – make sure to book as now hungry revellers are flocking from far and wide to sample Chef Andy’s award winning roasts! It makes for a great feeling that everyone is very excited to be in the building.
Culinary Concept: The Colonel Fawcett prides itself on not being a ‘gastropub’ – it is a traditional boozer that happens to serve a phenomenal menu of English pub classics such as the Fawcett burger or fish pie, along with more ambitious mains like duck breast or truffle risotto. And of course those award winning roasts – partly famous due to quality ingredients (organic Suffolk chicken, salt baked leg of Black faced lamb, rare breed shorthorn beef) and the insanely rich gravy that is cooked down for five days.
What we tried: We just had to come on a Sunday after a ramble around Primrose Hill, so with rumbling stomachs we approached the menu.
All of the starters sound mouth-watering and are presented just beautifully – the deep fried cod cheeks were crisp and golden, hovering atop a cassoulet-style combination of chickpeas, steamed mussels, aioli, broth and little nuggets of chorizo that, although tasty, managed the success of not being too rich so that the fluffy white fish could be appreciated. Discs of purple and yellow beetroot nestled up to soft pipings of goats cheese and warm figs to make for one of the most beautiful and delicious salads we’ve eaten in a long time, while venison carpaccio was tender and succulent, perfectly offset by the crunch of peppery celeriac shavings.
Now on to the roasts – the beef was pink as a flamingo’s blush, with a cloud-like Yorkshire pudding sitting proudly on the plate swimming with that awesome gravy. The slow cider braised pork belly was a huge slab of flesh that tore away in soft strands, topped with oodles of crackling that crunched and then became luxuriously sticky and chewy in the mouth. The chicken was tender white flesh accompanied by little croquettes for added oomph. Perfectly cooked vegetables and crisp, golden potatoes completed the plate – and did we mention that gravy?! Each meat had its own variety!
Oh, and if you think you’re too full for dessert, think again. You absolutely have to try the whimsically named ‘My Dear Friend Justin Gellatly’s Famous Doughnuts’ – filled with creamy salted caramel or violet custard, and a fried coating as light as air surrounded by a halo of sugar.
For next time: The roasts are so good it’s tempting to see what else Andy Evans can turn his hand to – we love the sound of the venison and autumn root vegetable pudding, while a brunch option of smoked haddock and colcannon potato cake sounds ravishing.
Veggie delights: There is a gratifyingly large selection of meat-free alternatives on the roast menu – from the Sunday veg plate of brown rice & cashew nut roast, the foraged wild mushroom & black truffle risotto, and the salmon with cuttlefish for fish-eaters.
Best of the booze: A great wine list means you can indulge in a bottle of two with dinner, while Bloody Marys should certainly be the order of the day and feature on a cocktail list alongside interesting options such as a ‘Lieutenant Monroe’. There’s also a stand-out gin selection of over 60 varieties, including Gine Mare, G’vine, Monkey 47 and loads you might not have heard of.
Fun Fact: Apparently the building was once a disreputable drinking establishment for rather insalubrious types, and one patron was Colonel David Fawcett. A duel fought in 1834, in the very pub, left him fatally wounded, and so he retired upstairs to spend his final two days in the manner in which he lived – as a gin swilling raconteur.
Overall: No doubt The Colonel Fawcett has steadily been building up die-hard fans for years – it is, after all, ‘Camden’s Best Kept Secret’. Now that the OFM have bestowed their award it’s surely going to be packed to the rafters, and you know what? It deserves to be. Cooking like Andy Evans’ should be appreciated. It’s just the right balance of experimental and exciting while still staying true to the fact that what’s important is a damned good meal – and upon eating here, you’ll be nodding along at the judge’s choice.