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Menu of delights in Victorian surrounds

If you like Lebanese food – served in lavish Victorian surroundings – the extensive menu at Crocker’s Folly is a joy

07 December, 2017 — By Tom Moggach

Crocker’s Folly was close to demolition before Lebanese restaurateurs swooped in to save it. Should you go? Most definitely!

THE bizarre history of a London pub has a new chapter – with an unexpected twist. Crocker’s Folly, near Lord’s Cricket Ground, is an architectural marvel.

The ornate Victorian décor is outrageously lavish. Vast fireplaces dominate each room. The main saloon, illuminated by cut-glass chandeliers, is inlaid with 50 types of marble.

Yet the building was close to demolition – until Lebanese restaurateurs swooped in to save it.

The Maroush Group, which started with a single business on the Edgware Road, now operates more than 15 restaurants. But Crocker’s Folly is still a bold move.

The pub and restaurant sits on a quiet backstreet and may be familiar to readers who liked a pint after watching the cricket.

“It was a proper spit-and-sawdust pub, proper run down”, remembers one fellow diner, who had lived nearby.

It was built as a grand hotel by Frank Crocker in the 1890s, who had hoped to capitalise on the construction of a new railway line which was due to terminate nearby.

But a row led to a change of plans. The route was moved to end at Marylebone – leaving the hotel stranded half a mile away.

We visited for dinner, taking our seats at a polished table inlaid with walnut, beneath a rack of champagne bottles.

If you like Lebanese food, the extensive menu is a joy – ranging from four types of hummus to top grade meat cooked in a Josper oven.

We chose a medley of smaller dishes so that we could graze more widely.

Our silky hummus was whipped with hot pepper and parsley, Beirut style.

The fattoush salad was just as it should be: a whack of acidity from pomegranate molasses; extra crunch from fragments of deep fried flatbread.

Warm starters included home-made Soujouk sausages, a pastry with halloumi cheese, and kibbeh – the classic dish of spiced meat enclosed in a shell of cracked wheat, which is then deep fried.

In clumsy hands, these can be far too heavy. But the outer shell was thin and crisp, cracking open to reveal the steaming filling within.

Our meal continued in this vein – wave after wave of lovely food, culminating in a dish called “Ossmalieh”, a dessert of baked fine vermicelli with sweetened cream cheese, soaked with rosewater syrup and sprinkled with crushed pistachios.

Prices are within reason. You could eat similar food more cheaply on the Edgware Road, but a meal here will cost £20-30 per head before drinks and service.

Should you go? Most definitely. Eating in surroundings like this is a unique opportunity. (I was less keen on the anodyne piped music, however)

“The craftsmanship that went into it is insane” says the same diner, as we enjoy a guided tour of the room with a waiter.

But I do worry about the backstreet location, which means they get no passing trade.

This is a vast space – and turning a profit must rely on plenty of footfall. Spread the word. This is something special.

Crocker’s Folly,
23–24 Aberdeen Place, NW8
020 7289 9898
www.crockersfolly.com
@CrockersFolly

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