Secret Camden: The Colonel Fawcett

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It was the pan-roast gurnard with kale, roast cauli, fennel butter and potato dumplings that showed off the young chef’s potential in all its glory

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Mrs Kentishtowner is as thrilled as a puppy with a scotch egg. Why? Because she predicts (and boy, is she rarely wrong) that 2012 will be the year of The Colonel Fawcett, and its talented 21 year old Head Chef Dorian Kirk (from Cafe Below).

Yes, we declare this unassuming Camden backwater pub the area’s finest new dining option since the highly acclaimed Made In Camden opened in 2010. And here are three reasons why:

#1. The food. Simple as. Seasonal, inventive, and on-trend. And the flavours sing, whether it’s a starter of confit duck & jerusalem artichoke, or tiny, delicate spinach and smoked mackerel souffle, with apple, colrabi and hazelnuts. Don’t get vegetarian co-editor Tom started on the zingy combination of beetroot, pear, endive, cashel blue and spiced walnuts, either.

Of the mains, whilst Tom loved the roast red onion, chard and goats curd tart – itself a thing of rare beauty – and Mrs Kentishtowner raved about a blood-red onglet with bone marrow butter and horseradish slaw (a recession-busting £9.50), it was the pan-roast gurnard with kale, roast cauli, fennel butter and potato dumplings that showed off young Kirk’s potential in all its glory.

And we even managed to gorge on some Blumenthal-esque desserts: salt caramel ice cream with poached plum and almond crumble; and blood orange and vodka sorbet sidling up to a very velvety panna-cotta.

#2. The prices. As if the imaginative menu wasn’t enough, it’s insanely cheap for this level of cooking. Starters come in at under a fiver, whilst mains hover at the £10 mark. Desserts are a fiver or less. That’s three courses for around £20. Bargain.

#3. The location. It’s tucked away in sleepy Randolph Street. You have to seek it out – which means it’s protected, at the weekend, from the marauding Camden hordes. And we should also mention the interior: a pleasant space with open-planned gin bar, lounge and laidback dining room all in one.

As for the name, fact fans, the three twentysomething owners – Ross, Crusoe and Angus – chose it as it was the site of the last fatal duel in Britain in 1843, between Lieutenant Munro and his brother-in-law Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett, who died upstairs. If only Dorian had been on hand with a hearty dish of pork belly and kale.

This place quite simply rocks. But to finish, two pointers: dark, sexy, candlelit lighting would be Bull-&-Last-tastic, and a perfect Negroni should be on hand at all times for the ever-thirsty Mrs Kentishtowner.

This is box title
The Colonel Fawcett, Randolph Street NW1. Meal for two, including wine and service, around £60. Kentishtowner Rating*: 9/10

What do you think?

Words & Pictures: Stephen Emms

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  • Adam

    She can’t possibly be literally beside herself with excitement. It’s just not physically possible. I’ve tried. 🙂

  • Kentishtowner

    The physical prowess of Mrs Kentishtowner knows no bounds.

  • Dave Hodgkinson

    Went for lunch today. It was very good. The beetroot risotto was very nice and while the piece of fish was a tad small in the fish and chips, it was very fresh and succulent.

    Couldn’t fault the Doom Bar. And that gin selection!

    Will be back for a Sunday brunch/lunch very soon indeed!

  • Adam King

    I’ve been to this place loads since it opened and I love it. A great north london boozer in all the right ways. no pretensions, just stylish, friendly and comfortable.

  • David Earl

    This food was beyond good; I’ve been a cook for many years, and the immaculate food that was served up reeked of hours and hours of preparation time. I don’t know how someone can run a kitchen with this standard of food, at the prices charged. I am, however, very grateful.
    The last comparable meal I ate was cooked by Paul Wilson at the Botanical Hotel Melbourne and cost a cool £80 / head.
    Everyone who can, should eat here. i will be back, as soon as I get back to London.
    Well done, and thanks to K-Towner for the heads up.

  • Kentishtowner

    Wow, David. High praise indeed. We’ve now eaten there three times (once for dinner, twice for lunch) and have yet to be disappointed. The other day we ate a ‘special’ of rare rump steak with celeriac, shallots and purple sprouting broccoli: to-die-for.

  • Gen

    I enjoyed a lovely fish dish (can’t remember which fish I’m afraid!) for lunch last week with friends. The food was top notch if a little on the small-ish side but as you say, with those sorts of prices and the quality of the food I can’t complain! I really liked the laid-back atmosphere (great music too – Yuck followed up by REM) and my other half was eyeing off the fry-up so we will definitely be back!