Where exactly is it? The Colonel Fawcett, tucked away on Randolph Street near Camden Road Overground, has been going strong well over a decade. In fact, if you’re a newer local resident, you may be unaware of how influential the pub and its cooking was when it first opened.
Tell me more. Back in 2011, a gang of twentysomethings took over what was then a rundown backstreet boozer, hiring a young chef who served dishes – such as outstanding rosy onglet – that previously you’d only find in Soho or Shoreditch (read our first ever quirky 2012 review here). Fast forward to 2023 and London’s dining scene is transformed, while the Fawcett itself has become a much-loved local institution, whose food offer has chopped and changed a bit over the years.
So what’s Pass Time all about? It’s their brand new kitchen residency, from chefs Rob Chappell and Sebastian Cooke, formerly of The Old White Bear, Hampstead (Cooke was also head chef at the acclaimed English Restaurant in Spitalfields.) The emphasis is “exceptional British seasonal food.”
What do you recommend? Start off with a few small plates, as we did on a damp midweek lunchtime, maybe the white anchovies on slivers of sourdough, or pickled quail eggs. Especially good are the welsh rarebit croquettes with a walnut ketchup, pictured below left, and the melt-in-the-mouth monkfish scampi with tarragon emulsion.
For mains? While there’s a focus on the grill, vegetarians can tuck into pearl barley risotto with chanterelles, or butter-soft potato gnocchi smothered in vivid green kale pesto with crispy shallots and chilli. The plant-based sides are a must too, especially the king cabbage with miso puree and chilli butter (tip: you might need some sourdough to mop it up).
For carnivores, however, the juicy Hampshire Duroc pork chop (a superior breed of pig) comes nicely browned in a properly meaty lick-the-plate-clean jus, as does a good value bavette at £16.50, thickly cut into mouthwatering ruby-red strips. Both are simply must-orders.
Dessert? I’m not a sweet-toothed diner, but, in the interest of research, a sweet honey custard off-set with pickled plum, nutty pistachio and charred figs proved to be an unexpected meal highlight, with its carefully flavour notes. Recommended.
The interior? It’s had a bit of a spruce-up, actually, now with exposed bare brick walls, artwork dotted around and lots of pub stools, velvet drapes shielding the dining room from the noise of the bar for more delicate ears on busy evenings.
To drink? There’s the usual range of local, London and UK-wide craft beer on tap, plus a great pet nat (£8 a glass), and good choice of both natural (try the Cotes De Rhone, £8 a glass, or the Tractor white at £6.50 a glass) as well as other wines. Cocktails start at £9.50: negroni fans should try The Last Word, a bitter but balanced and rather moreish blend of gin, maraschino, chartreuse and lime.
Hack: book a table on Thursday evening for a generous 25% off steaks (which makes the bavette an excellent-value £12.50 rather than £16.50). You’re welcome.
In summary? This might just be the tastiest new local menu we’ve tried this year since the arrival of the all-conquering Parakeet – and it’s gentler on the wallet, too.
Kentishtowner ate as guests of Colonel Fawcett