Friday, 7 August 2020

28 Well Hung, Nunhead

It seems that while parts of Central London still, despite a slew of restaurant and hotels reopening in the past few weeks, resemble something from a low-budget British zombie movie, the suburbs have travelled a slightly quicker path back to normality. With Londoners reluctant to get back on public transport, and many still working full-time from home, the Neighbourhood restaurant or local pub has become the first-choice for an evening out, and - anecdotally at least - some are doing rather well out of it. But whereas in the Before Times a local restaurant would hope to be busy on Friday or Saturday evenings and struggle more earlier in the week, the government's Eat Out to Help Out Scheme now means that Monday to Wednesdays are likely to be slammed, and weekends are quieter. As various restaurateurs have put it, Wednesday is the new Saturday, and Thursday is the new Monday.

So it was on a warm Wednesday evening that I got on the Thameslink to Nunhead, to visit an intriguing little neighbourhood restaurant a few steps from the Old Nun's Head pub. 28 Well Hung (who's that sniggering at the back) specialise in two main areas - high quality, grass-fed meat of various flavours and styles, and organic home-made flatbreads, baked to order on a gas-fired saj. And if there's anything I appreciate in a restaurant, it's high-quality meat and somewhere that bakes their own bread.

"Cull yaw" is a phrase you're going to be hearing a lot of in the near future, if indeed you haven't already. You can read more about these animals, and Matt Chatfield, the farmer who's attempting to reintroduce them to the world in this Vittles article, but briefly they are 8-year-old ewes too old for breeding, and in eating them you're not only enjoying some heavily-marbled, meltingly tender and superbly flavoured meat, but are actually helping suck carbon out of the atmosphere. That's right - cull yaw has a carbon negative effect on the environment. Oh, and the fresh flatbread was, as you might expect, excellent as well - soft and stretchy with a lovely flavour.

I'll start with the good news about the burger first. The beef was good, there was just the right amount of salad and sauce (mayo I think spiked with paprika, though don't quote me on that) and though I worried that the cheddar would be too chalky and strongly-flavoured, in fact it was nice and subtle and had a good gooey texture. But I'm afraid while flatbread has its uses in a variety of dishes, it doesn't quite do the job as a burger bun, making it very difficult to get a bite with all the elements together. In the end I ended up eating it with a knife and fork, which as any burger lover will tell you, is not an ideal outcome.

Onglet could have done with being a little warmer (we really wouldn't have minded if they'd just brought out things as they were ready instead of waiting and delivering everything at once), but still had a good flavour, that all-important onglet-y texture just the right side of chewy, and a very nice herby dressing which really lifted it.

Chips were 'air-fried' using one of those weird machines that health freaks get to convince themselves that a 1% drop in the fat content of their food is somehow the key to a happier life. They were fine - tasted a bit like oven chips - but really, if the rest of the menu is stuffed with dry-aged beef, burgers and cheese I wouldn't see anyone complaining if they'd used beef dripping to cook them, and you'd end up with a much nicer end product. I did like the chimmichurri though.

Staff are still grappling with the complexities of implementing the Eat Out To Help Out discount, and I don't blame them - it must be hard enough serving food in the era of Covid without having to make sure the 50% off only applies to food items and soft drinks, and whether or not to pass on the changes to VAT. Anyway their first go at the bill, above, was wrong, as there were only two of us and only entitled to £10 off each, so the final amount was actually £63.25, a very decent amount for more than enough food and a lovely bottle of tempranillo (actually £33 a bottle). If I was a Nunhead local, I'd be feeling pretty pleased with myself, and indeed every table was taken, inside and in the front and back gardens.

So the slow march back to normality continues. Once the threat of Coronavirus fades we can get back to worrying about our dying planet, and to that end the guys at 28 Well Hung are excellently poised, as a self-styled 'Regenerative Restaurant', to capitalise on the desire to not just have a nice evening out but to do something positive for the environment as well. So good for them, good for Nunhead, and once you've ordered your own portion of the cull yaw, good for you.


1 comment:

Eatsruns said...

I went there a few weeks ago - I was running from Crystal Palace to South Tottenham, and it was a good place to stop for lunch and meet a local friend I'd not seen since before lockdown.

I was a bit apprehensive, as I have to follow a strict medical diet that prohibits meat, cheese and fried food! So I was very happy to learn that the chips were air fried. And I enjoyed the vegan option. Nice beer too.