Restaurant review: Chef’s restaurant at Croydon College

By - Friday 3rd June, 2016

Chef’s is where Croydon’s culinary students hone their skills. Andy Ellis enjoys the results

Croydon College, College Road (but use Park Lane entrance), Croydon CR9 1DX

Time from East Croydon:  5 minutes

Photo author’s own.

We happened to be passing Croydon College on our way to lunch in Croydon’s Old Town when we were approached by a young lady smartly clad in black with a yellow sash. She bore in her hand a menu and asked if we’d like to try the college restaurant, Chef’s.

On perusing the menu we found an interesting selection but it did pose a problem. My companion cannot have gluten and is vegetarian but there was nothing matching both of these criteria for the main course. We were assured that something could be arranged and so allowed ourselves to be ushered into Chef’s restaurant.

This comprised a bar area to the left, dining to the right and a long window into the kitchen beyond.

Chef’s is bright, spacious and modern but, a little to my surprise, manages a comfortable ambience, no doubt helped by the gentle sunlight seeping through the south facing windows.

At the bar a glass of Merlot and pint of decent bottled ale came to just £5.20. Meanwhile one of the students had consulted with the chef. There was salmon risotto as a starter. This could be changed to a vegetarian version with asparagus and mushroom replacing the fish, and served as a main course portion. This was an agreeable option.

At table, my partner ordered the omelette to start followed by the aforementioned risotto. I opted for the crispy polenta with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, followed by skate with capers and black butter.

Polenta had just the right crunchy texture and the veggies were nicely cooked

While we waited we were offered bread and I received an unusual tiny (and tasty) long loaf with a ‘knot’ at one end but failed to ask what it was actually called. Perhaps it’s a ‘Croydon’ – I don’t know! The omelette was nicely cooked. My dish came with a garland of fresh (and tasty) rocket; the polenta had just the right crunchy texture plus the veggies were nicely cooked.

The main course dishes came with a bowl of steamed vegetables. The risotto was, whilst actually a little bit overcooked, very good. My skate was cooked to perfection and I teased each last crumb of flesh from the bones. Service was friendly, efficient without being rushed. The food, as well as being tasty, was also attractively presented. The atmosphere is comfortable and, as previously mentioned, the kitchen was helpful.

Photo by Chef’s restaurant, used with permission.

All of this came to just £8 for two courses. It’s £10 for three courses if you’re hungrier, and bar prices are most reasonable.

Chef’s is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays during college term time from 12 noon until 2pm (last orders at 1:30pm). As I’ve related, special diets can be catered for but it is advisable to phone up first. Not surprisingly the place can fill up, so is advisable.

Chef’s is near to the town centre and East Croydon station and, in culinary terms, a cut above many Croydon eateries. Give it a try!

Andy Ellis

Andy Ellis

Descendant of an old Devonshire family, Andy has spent over 25 years of his life in Croydon. He runs a small computer business, is a student at Seishin Ryu Aikido, helps to teach the Body Harmony community fitness classes held in several libraries across the town and, last but not least, dances with the Purley-based North Wood Morris Men.

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  • John Gass

    I’ve been meaning to try it for ages, now your enthusiastic review means I’ll have to stop procrastinating.

    Catering students rely on having an in-house restaurant in which they can polish their skills, both in the kitchen and front of house. To be able to support them whilst enjoying a great and affordable lunch at Croydon College is fantastic and should be the definition of win-win in the Cronx dictionary!

  • Anne Giles

    Sounds great!