Cheeseburger at The Crooked Well, Camberwell

25 Jan

LOCATION: The Crooked Well, 16 Grove Lane, London SE5 8SY [map]

PRICE: £8.75 with side salad garnish and small pot of chips.

BREAD: Glazed, unseeded, slightly sweet bun.

FILLING: Donald Russell beef patty, cheddar cheese (I think), lettuce, tomato and a sort of tomato relish thing (I asked for ketchup on the side).

PROS: The beef had excellent flavour and the patty was a generous size. Bonus points for it coming medium rare as standard. The crisp pickles were nice too, with a good sweet/sharp balance, erring on the side of sweet.

CONS: The bun was a bit stale, had taken on an unpleasant woolly texture and collapsed before I’d finished the burger – the cardinal burger bun sin. The meat was cooked medium rare but not very evenly so, as you can see from the picture. I found the scant smear of tomato relish on top superfluous and the cheese, for me, was wrong; I don’t want to be a Burger Bore but the fact is, I like cheap American cheese in my burger. Perhaps it’s hard for a chef to even consider using processed cheese? I would say to him/her that the best burgers in London are made using slappy yellow slices – at Meat Liquor or Lucky Chip, for example. The ‘cheese’ should be gooey and taste faintly of guilt; a proper cheese like cheddar is too strong – it jars with the flavour of the beef.

I’m sad I didn’t like this burger because Camberwell is just crying out for more decent lunches. For me though, the thinking behind this burger, with its fantastic beef but sad bun and toppings was just a bit, well, crooked.

SCORE: 4/10

24 Responses to “Cheeseburger at The Crooked Well, Camberwell”

  1. Chris January 25, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    I put the sorry state of Britain’s pub burgers squarely at the feet of Gourmet Burger fad. The (completely baffling) success of places like GBK etc. means that every chef in the country think what the public wants is aged cheddar, organic tomatoes and artisan sourdough bread in their burgers, whereas what people ACTUALLY want is a filthy, greasy, budget burger. So in effect the UK has been working down from the top, attempting to impress with expensive ingredients and fancy cooking, whereas it should be working up from the bottom, perhaps improving and tweaking as required but still keeping the ideal of a filthy budget burger. Which is why everyone’s now going crazy for MeatLiquor and Lucky Chip, because they are clearly objectively better burgers than anything containing Keen’s Unpasteurised Cheddar and fucking ciabatta buns.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 25, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Quite. No ciabatta bun here at least but the bun I did get was stale, which was a shame. The cheese though, the cheese! The flavour totally clashes with the beef, I don’t know why people do it.

  2. rod January 25, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    I totally agree with the above.. When did it become necessary to start charging £8 quid for burger and chips,with a £4 quid pint thats £12 for what would be lunch….
    A plain sesame seeded bun is the ONLY bun for a burger,others are not flexible enough my friends!!!!
    Having travelled the world several times,I have stopped buying the “gourmet”burger in any bar,hotel,or restaurant,as I now know I am going to be dissapointed.I want a burger and chips the way I imagine burger and chips..Soft bun,squeezy cheeze.
    So please Crooked Well,stop pandering to the “gourmet” scene,get some decent patties in that WILL cook evenly,buy some decent burger buns,and dont feel ashamed at all about getting some square cheese involved….The burgers will cost us all less,and maybe you will set a new “retro” trend in the flourishing burger market!!!!

  3. Catherine January 25, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Seeing they have a tasty main ingredient to start with, it shouldn’t be difficult to get a less strong cheese and better buns. I must point out that it only seems to be the Brits in London who seem to crave cheap American (style) cheese – am sure none of that stuff is imported from across the pond, but manufactured right here in the British Isles. It’s far more common to find a Swiss, or mild cheddar topping burgers in North America. And Rod, I don’t think buns don’t need to be seeded on top to be good.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 25, 2012 at 11:36 am #

      I think my point with the cheese was, Catherine, that cheddar or a similar cheese is too strong. It jars horribly with the flavour of beef. Swiss has a mild flavour doesn’t it? I like the gooey, filthy quality of American style cheese, as I said in the post.

    • Chris January 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      Catherine, I follow a very famous burger blog from America called A Hamburger Today ( and I’d say a good 80% of even the “gourmet” burgers over there use cheap American cheese. Also American “cheddar” is very different from the strong, salty cheddar used in gastropub wrong burgers here. Finally, I don’t think it matters where the Kraft cheese comes from if it still tastes identical, does it?

      • Florian Siepert (@siepert) January 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

        There could be a solution to all of this: ARTISANAL ORGANIC AMERICAN CHEESE! First one with a stall for this at Maltby St wins.

      • londonreviewofsandwiches January 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

        I NOMINATE YOU!!

      • Chris January 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

        I love the idea of someone selling bright orange squares of shrinkwrapped processed cheese alongside Stichelton and Wigmore.

  4. Catherine January 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    This cheese discussion could run and run. Cheddar comes in different strengths over here as well. Chris, I wasn’t suggesting using strong salty cheddar. Helen, generic Swiss in the US is mild, yes. President sell a mild one in this country. Or, what about trying something like Red Leicester, or Double Gloucester. Iceland sell really cheap mild cheddar and I think some of it might even be orange. Think outside the shrink wrapped cheese box. They don’t all taste the same, just ask Yianni.

  5. kidnoodle January 27, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    If you’re hunting decent food in this part of the world, you want to be headed a little bit west and looking in Brixton village.
    Honest Burger does sterling work on the burger front, but you can’t swing a cat down there without an excellent chef getting horribly clawed in the face..

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 27, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Hi kidnoodle. I have been to Honest Burger but I’m afraid my burger wasn’t great. Very over-cooked. My coeliac friend also had a reaction to her ‘gluten-free’ version, although in Honest Burgers defence, I did receive a call from the chef apologising profusely and also offering to compensate us. He assures me it was a one-off and has never happened before.

    • rod February 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

      I would Kid,but i have no idea where “Brixton Villiage” is?Has it a pub and post office?Pond?

  6. Tiffany January 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    I recently blogged about the Crooked Well for Sunday lunch and it was great, but I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t have ever ordered the burger. UK burgers have led to so much disappointment that I don’t even consider them unless I am in an establishment born of the MeatWagon. So I am impressed you gave it a go…and it’s unfortunate that they had to settle with the UKs toleration of low quality burgers.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      Hi Tiffany. Agreed. Lucky Chip are supposed to be really good though if you want to check them out. To be honest, I ordered it because I was on my lunchbreak – not many options to be had in Camberwell!

  7. girlinpearls January 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    I don’t mind a strong cheddar with my burger taste wise, but I do mind the lack of cheese stretch and how much it melts into the burger. If that makes any sense. A good cheddar doesn’t tend to melt into the meaty crevices but solidifies as soon as it gets a little cold making it less texturally pleasant.
    I think a lot about cheese in burgers.
    I also do not like tomato relish/salsa/whatever in a burger. It just gets in the way of a good time.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      Hi girlinpearls. It makes perfect sense to me. Most cheese melt, then cool and congeal unpleasantly; slappy cheese doesn’t. Yet another reason to love it! Agreed on the relish too. Style over substance.

  8. Leila Dukes (@leiladukes) January 30, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    I’m loving the phrase “slappy cheese”.

    You’re right, posh cheese in burgers is wrong- not only does it jar with the taste of beef as you’ve said, everything else in the burger also masks the taste of the quality cheese — double waste really.

    My pilfered chips were good though 😉

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 31, 2012 at 8:00 am #

      ‘slappy cheese’ sums it up perfectly dontcha think? We left a few of those chips…criminal!

  9. rod February 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    I believe comments have been taken on board at The Crooked Well in Camberwell(Village!!)….
    I wonder if price will be lowered as well? Burger £8.75…Pint £4.. 2 people Thats £25.50 for burger n chips at dinner,anyone else worry about this or is it just me?????

    • londonreviewofsandwiches February 20, 2012 at 8:08 am #

      Hi Rod, sorry, what do you mean about Brixton Village? This is a pub in Camberwell. It’s nowhere near Brixton Village.

  10. Jen Aries November 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Hello, have only just seen this. I do apologise for your burger. The picture does show it’s unevenly cooked. In our defence, when you came in, we had only just started doing our own burgers and were still finding the right balance based on customer feedback. If you had let us know you were unhappy we would have dealt with it immediately. Very soon after we started selling the burger, we changed to processed burger cheese and changed our baps to sesame as all agreed, as you clearly do too, that that was how a burger should be.
    Do feel free to come back and try again sometime. As for the price of beer, have a word with the breweries and pub co.s, and let us know how you get on!
    Please get in touch with any further feedback
    Kind Regards

    • londonreviewofsandwiches November 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Hi Jen,

      Thanks for your comment. I did let you know at the time actually. I also spoke with someone after the meal about it. I appreciate you leaving a comment though and I know you’ve improved the burger since.


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