Restaurant review: Welcome Friends, Addiscombe


By - Friday 10th March, 2017

Great for twelve, perhaps not so good for two


4 Bingham Corner, Lower Addiscombe Road, Croydon CR0 7AA

Time from East Croydon:  25 minutes,  8 minutes to Addiscombe then  1 minute

Photo by Welcome Friends, used with permission.

I’ve walked past the long established Welcome Friends Chinese restaurant many hundreds of times. It was only when recently invited to a party booking with a local organisation that I finally set foot within.

Welcome Friends is a smallish establishment with, I would reckon, around forty covers. Decor is fairly simple and it was, on this occasion at least, untarnished by irritating background music. Initial impressions (confirmed by later observation) suggested that the place was spotlessly clean.

As we arrived in dribs and drabs (from the Claret Free House next door) we were cheerily greeted and seated by a gentleman whom I assumed to be the owner. Drinks were served, menus distributed and banter exchanged. Shortly afterwards our orders were taken by a young lady in a lovely and somewhat retro (possibly ’40s) red and white dress. Her manner was helpful, patient, amusing and altogether quite delightful.

Our table ordered the shared mixed starter (the usual ribs, prawn toast, satay and the like) followed by a gamut of individual dishes.

Food arrived fairly quickly with a decent gap between first and main courses. A few of us finished with pudding or the odd liqueur.

Good, fresh, competently cooked

It’s all sounding good, but why am I only giving three stars? One problem is the ambience. Although it’s agreeable, there’s nothing memorable or distinctive about the place. The other is the food.

Yes, we got what we ordered, portions were just fine, it was good and fresh and all competently cooked. Sadly though, it was pretty much the same mediocre fare as offered in similar restaurants up and down the country. In short: nothing which stood out and gave that ‘wow’ factor.

I do have to say that I did enjoy my visit to Welcome Friends. If I was organising a group night out in Croydon then I’d certainly consider the place. It’s comfortable, prices are reasonable and the service is superb. For a meal out à deux or with a few friends though, I’d choose somewhere with more character and a livelier menu.

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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  • SIMON HILLS

    Cannot say that I agree with the conclusion, as this restaurant works perfectly well if you are not in a big group; likewise, there is more to the menu than suggested, as there are also Thai and Japanese dishes to choose from (my personal favourite is their chicken katsu curry).

    Additionally, it is worth noting that there has been a change of ownership within the last couple of years and Welcome Friends is significantly the better for it.