The Treehouse, South Croydon

By midday last Sunday I was absolutely exhausted. Travelling back from Yorkshire on the Saturday should have given me plenty of time to relax in the evening before my 5am alarm but the rota changed and I found myself unable to get to sleep with my fast-forwarded 3am alarm quickly approaching. At the end of my eight hour shift I could very easily have gone home and slept through until the following morning but for the fear of ruining my pattern I decided to power through.

After a short walk along South End, the ‘restaurant quarter’ of Croydon, we ended up settling on a pub situated on a corner which apparently has a nightclub in but taking a look at it from outside and inside it is not something you can at all imagine. On our walk we noticed that Bianco 43 had shut down which given the owner’s attitude and what is on offer in the surrounding restaurants hardly much of a surprise. The main issue with South End is that because it is a restaurant quarter everywhere seems to nudge the prices up on the food to being that little bit more above average and what seems acceptable to pay for a dish; £4.50 for a side of standard chips???

We had never visited The Treehouse before so at least we were ticking off somewhere new rather than reverting back to the same locations that we know and trust. It is an interesting spot for a pub, in an unusual triangle shape and stands there boldly with the impression of having a lot of history behind it.

On entering we were confronted by a variety of wooden carved tables and chairs as well as a variety of vintage feel decorations. It really had a lovely warm, comforting and unique feel that has been lost by a lot of pubs due to the increasing takeovers from chains or closing of independent pubs for them to be converted into flats. There seemed to be several sections to the pub and as a result it overall seemed incredibly quiet in terms of visible people and noise coming from other tables which meant that the jazz playlist they had going was able to come through the speakers at a more gentle level. There was one big clashing item amongst the decor that with the punters desire for sport is an essential pub item; a huge TV that was silently playing a Spongebob movie.

Eventually we decided upon a two seat table and set about taking a look through the menu. It was pretty lacklustre, as well as having a bizarre variety of some dishes seeming to come with vegetables and carbs whilst others not mentioning either in the description and I was also mildly disappointed that they did not seem to have a specific Sunday Lunch menu.

The toilets did not feel me with much hope as whilst we could see the kitchen and everything getting prepared to know it was clean and tidy the toilets looked like they had been seriously neglected for a good decade or two with minimal maintenance. There was not anything wrong with them but they did not spark confidence in the love and care that was provided throughout the building and this was not helped with the cracked paint walls compared to the beautiful pub interior.

My partner went off to the bar to order, to bring the food to Table 101 and after going to the toilets I feared this experience was about to become Room 101, and discovered that there was a Sunday Lunch menu singly available at the bar rather than with the other menus on tables. He decided to amend his order and left me with my ‘sharing’ starter that I opted to have as main after being truly uninspired and baffled by the menu put in front of me.

Luckily you cannot go that far wrong with baked Camembert but I was pleasantly surprised by the sourdough bread that came with it and the balance of garlic and rosemary throughout the baked cheese. The presentation of the dish worked well and fitted with the feeling and the decor of the table but given that the tables were quite wonky due to their carved nature it made it difficult to keep it balanced without encroaching on the space for my pint glass.

My partner’s lamb lunch looked brilliant and seemed to have a decent portion of everything. The Yorkshire pudding served on top, far away from the gravy, was large and incredibly thin but on being allowed to taste a bit it seemed to be a little dry and also lacking in seasoning. For the same price as one of the mains on one of the proper restaurants menus it did not seem to excel to quite the right level but it came with mint sauce, was warm and a hearty portion so my partner was happy enough but I think I shouldered enough disappointment for both of us.

The pub itself was lovely, they had a reasonable selection of drinks and specialist cocktails though even a pint from one of the taps seemed more than in many Central London pubs I can recall, but it certainly gave the impression of just trying to make the most of the venue rather than focusing on the details beyond the initially visible walls. There were a few people on other tables but not enough to warrant it as busy around 3pm to 5pm on a Sunday afternoon and it felt clear that people in the surrounding houses and close travelling proximity preferred to visit other local spots, including a number of other private rather than chain locations.

It was a shame because I had high hopes, especially based on the menu price and wonderful decor, but shall not be returning or recommending to others any time soon.

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