At the end of a quiet residential street in St John’s Wood lies a gateway to lost times. The signage makes you think of a traditional British pub. It’s a bit of artistic license though. Step over the threshold and you’re transported into a bygone era with opulence, old school glamour, and the most humongous chandeliers.
St John’s Wood pub
Crocker’s Folly is housed in a Grade II listed Victorian building which dates back to the late 1800s. Local entrepreneur Frank Crocker originally constructed the Crown Hotel after hearing the new terminus for the Grand Central railway would be located in St John’s Wood. Alas, it wasn’t to be, since local protests saw it pushed to Marylebone instead.
Back to present day, the Maroush group have respectfully renovated the building’s grandeur. I’m talking magnificent marble fireplaces, beautifully part-gilded ceilings, glorious wood panelling and opulent pillars. Yes, it’s safe to say one of the grandest surroundings we’ve enjoyed at Sunday lunch.
We’re major fans of Lebanese cuisine and my eyes lit up at the extensive à la carte menu. On a Sunday they also serve a traditional Sunday lunch. We were already drawn in by the mezze options, plus the array of vegetarian choices totally swung it for me.
Olives, and the traditional Maroush hummus (£6.50) served with hot, soft pitas kicked off the proceedings. Between Mr S and Radha a.k.a the hummus fiends, it was clear I wouldn’t get much of a look-in. So I tactically ordered a bowl of the Moutabel Baba Ghanouj (£7.25). The grilled aubergine purée mixed with sesame paste, lemon juice and topped with pomegranate jewels was a creamy dreamy spread which yes, I admit I mainly devoured myself.
The juice selection on offer impressed the girls too. I’m often faced with groans from my eldest when she’s only ever offered orange and apple in some restaurants. There were all kinds of exotic options available here, and mango took the prize.
The big kids didn’t feel left out either with the interesting wine list on offer. We stuck to the Lebanese theme and opted for a bottle of white from the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. The fruity and floral tones worked perfectly with the flavours from the mezze.
The rest of the food arrived together, which is always great with mezze. One of my pet hates is when it arrives in dribs and drabs. You end up eating one small plate at a time instead of enjoying the full technicolour taste extravaganza.
We liked the sound of the Kibbeh so much we ordered two varieties – the pumpkin and potato and spinach (£8). They were small nuggets of deep-fried joy. Once you bit into the crispy coating to reach the flavoursome mixture of cracked wheat, onions, spices and either the pumpkin or potato and spinach fillings – one was never going to be enough. My favourites were the spinach and potato with the pumpkin ones slightly on the sweet side for my palette. The rest of the squad weren’t so picky, mind you and they scored a ten with the gang.
Can you even call it a mezze without halloumi in the mix? The thick grilled morsels were all on the right side of chewy and salty.
And Asha was in her element at the sight of her favourite ‘squeaky cheese.’
The sambousek cheese pastries (£7) were rather uninspiring and in the words of Radha ‘very bland’. On the other hand the king prawns doused in a spicy tomato sauce (£9.50) were a big hit with the girls and Mr S too.
We ordered two salads the tabbouleh (£7), fresh parsley, cracked wheat, mint, onion and tomato salad coated in a lemon juice and olive oil dressing. Although the one I practically licked the bowl clean with was the fattoush (£7.50). I couldn’t get enough of the crispy toasted Lebanese bread topping. And the sumac, lemon and olive oil dressing made the lettuce, tomato, cucumber, mint, radish and onion sing!
There was no way I’d be missing out on the Lebanese version of the pimped up sautéed potato. The batata harra (£6.50) was coated in garlic, chilli and sweet pepper adding a vibrant twist to the crispy bites.
And if you’re a follower of the Curious Pixie you’ll know all too well I wouldn’t be leaving without sampling my number one tipple in a place known for its cocktails. It did not disappoint either – smooth, creamy with a perfect balance of sweet and bitter. Tea and madeleines have their place but trust me, an espresso martini is a superb partner for a plate of baklava (£5).
Crocker’s Folly in St John’s Wood is not all about the packaging, for sure you’ll be hard pressed to find a more lavish setting for your Sunday family meal. The food lives up to its surroundings too. Lebanese dishes beautifully presented, full of flavour and delivered with an attentive service. We certainly left with our bellies full and a spring in our step.
Do you enjoy Lebanese cuisine? What’s your favourite dish? Let me know in the comments box below.
Crocker’s Folly | 24 Aberdeen Place | St John’s Wood | London | NW8 8JR
Disclaimer: Our meal was complimentary, however, all views, opinions and photos are my own and remain a trademark of the Curious Pixie.
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