The Well: Not without its faults (April 2013)

There is a lot of competition in the gastro-pub space and while The Well was good, it was certainly not without its faults. Full marks for atmosphere: lovely building, well furnished, a good noise level and friendly staff. However, the three areas where there was some disappointment (and shared by the group of four of us who dined there) were as follows: the drink, food and price, all fairly crucial elements in assessing the merits of a dining location. In terms of drink, if you call yourself a pub (rather than a restaurant), then surely more than one real ale on tap (admittedly the one they had was a good one – Jugged Hare) ought to be possible. Next, in terms of the food, an extensive menu based around comfort food with a slight twist seems to be the premise. Our starters were beautifully presented on small wooden boards, but what they gained in presentation, they lost in terms of quantity, i.e. they were very small. My crisp calves brains were very tasty, although rather curiously battered, but there were just four pieces. Similarly, those of my dining comrades who went for the shrimp and bacon croquettes received just two of these. At least for the fourth member in our group, his half pint of prawns was exactly that. Onto the mains and the portions were certainly much better-sized. I had no complaints about my braised rabbit leg with grilled gem, peas, bacon and mustard sauce. The meat was beautifully succulent and came off the bone well; the accompaniments were well matched and the mustard sauce not overpowering. However, there was less praise from my comrades for the Cumbrian rare bread rib of beef. This takes me on to the final point, price: for £24 (in a pub), you have to expect a seriously good piece of meat, and sadly it did not seem to live up to the billing. Would I return, despite these criticisms? Yes, but as much as anything because we did have a good time, albeit fuelled by the beer. And, we were under-charged (making up for the egregiously priced beef), although not all diners may find themselves so lucky in this latter respect.