Restaurant Review: Crockers Folly, St Johns Wood in London
Often it’s the detail that stands above anything else, catches your eye and imprints itself on your mind. At Crockers Folly, for example it was the chocolate infusion that was used to dampen some smoking kindling beside a welcoming cocktail, or the room that we dined in made up of 50 types of marble. These considerations add personality; and Crockers Folly has bags of it. Buried in St John’s Wood, Crockers Folly is a Grade II listed former Victorian ‘gin palace’. In recent years it was left behind and boarded up but today it can be found lovingly restored and repurposed as an elegant restaurant and bar.
It’s not often that a bar competes so highly with its restaurant counterpart, but Crockers Folly’s bar is worth a visit in itself. The intuitive and experienced bar staff knew exactly what to do and impressively whizzed around behind the bar creating an array of dynamic concoctions. A contrast of cocktails: we enjoyed a feminine martini alongside their masculine smoked cocktail which was presented with its very own hip flask. Settling into their Marble Room for dinner; comfortably in the corner we were able to view the composed grandeur of the historic space. To start, and a first for both of us, oyster carpaccio, delicate but not overpowering. Starters from their A la carte menu – cured beef tartar served with gherkins, croutons and egg yolk was intricately presented on a slate board and sprinkled with truffles and edible pansies. Equally presented was the roasted octopus salad with red beetroot puree, honey and lemon dressing; both setting the standard for mains to come.
Blushing lamb cutlets were served simply alongside fried potatoes and steamed vegetables and their recommended veal which was larger than my plate but hit the spot in terms of expectation. With these we shared green beans and French fries. For dessert a creamy cheesecake and some further remarkable inventions from the enthusiastic barman who made a beeline to find out whether he could assist further. Our evening was paired throughout with a red wine which the waitress recommended in line with personal preference.
The history of this building has been a rocky one, originally built by local entrepreneur Frank Crocker it was named The Crown Hotel with each wall, window and ceiling decorated in ornate style, with the pillars, wood panelling and elaborate detailing that can be appreciated in its former glory today. Soon after Crocker went bust and killed himself by jumping from an upstairs window of the building; it is now said that his ghost haunts the building. In 1987 the pub was renamed Crockers Folly and was popular for some years before closing and being on the English Heritage risk register in 2004. The Crockers Folly as it stands today in its full glory opened on 25th October 2014 and since then has more than made up for 10 years of hibernation.
Crocker’s Folly has also appointed a new head chef with 14 years’ experience and a 2 Michelin starred heritage under his belt. Michele del Monaco brings to the kitchen his international culinary experience having worked in London, Rio de Janeiro, Sardinia and Tuscany, introducing the subtleties of the Mediterranean and European flavours to the new menu. On top of this core new and considered menu, Crockers Folly’s kitchen will also be offering afternoon tea, traditional roasts and breakfast service, exclusive to Sunday mornings.
Address: 24 Aberdeen Pl, St Johns Wood, London NW8 8JR, crockersfolly.com, 020 7289 9898