Restaurant review: The Sun, Carshalton

By - Thursday 22nd February, 2018

A superb gastropub just a stone’s throw away and well worth the bus ride

4 North Street, Carshalton, Sutton SM5 2HU 

Time from East Croydon:   16 minutes X26,  10 minutes or from West Croydon   42 minutes 157,  5 minutes 

Photo by the Sun Carshalton, used with permission.

I’m not objective about the current incarnation of the Sun. It’s the pub where I started my adult adventures when it was an Irish rugby pub that did lock-ins. But it turned into a nasty, violent, ‘commodity trading’ den and closed down. Then it was saved and turned into something rather special.

You don’t have to have my backstory to enjoy what the Sun has to offer. This is an outstanding gastropub that does both parts of the equation with equal skill. It’s the best of its sort that I can think of within many miles. Nothing in Croydon (that I’ve seen) has come close. I’m happy to discuss this below the line and take recommendations.

With four well-kept rotating handpump real ales (sometimes five), interesting craft and Belgian options in bottles and cans, all the usual suspects on draft and a wine/spirits list that is much better than it has to be, including fifty+ guns, there is plenty of room to just drink. This isn’t a restaurant in a pub’s clothes. This is a proper boozer that does excellent food (more of which later).

Dogs are very welcome, as are children, although both are expected to respect their surroundings and are restricted to certain areas. Bowls and treats are there for the doggies and games and toys are hidden away for kids. Both our kids and dogs love the place, and we have all felt that we are very welcomed by the friendly and efficient staff.

This is food that speak of both training and ambition in the kitchen

It’s a very attractive space. When the current management team moved in, a lot was ripped out but the classic old features of a coal fire, mahogany bar and polished brass rail were retained. Then the place was decorated with wit and panache to turn it into an open and attractive space that nods to both traditional pubs and to a slightly trendy and comfortable bistro/diner vibe. It would be easy to get this wrong, but they’ve done a great job and it’s a very good place to go just to drink, perhaps after a walk through the park next door with one’s dog and kids.

However as this is a Croydon Citizen review, this might be less likely, given the location. What you want to know about is the food.

Photo by the Sun Carshalton, used with permission.

Well, it’s very good. There’s an interesting mix of the delicate and the robust at play. For dinner, starters can be quite dainty, with a very careful spice/herb mixture on the homemade lamb koftas with a lovely fresh Greek salad on the side. Light, crispy whitebait, with a hum of spice to the dry and crispy batter with a tangy tartare sauce, is either a good starter or the second best beer snack that I’ve ever had. (The best is warm cashew nut pakora served in a south Asian place in Tooting.)

The mains can tend towards the more robust. I’ve eaten a rich and flavoursome duck confit on lentil stew, or – one of the best things that I’ve eaten anywhere – partridge two ways, with roasted breast and a red wine and bird juice gravy/sauce that speaks of both training and ambition in the kitchen. Then the show stopper, Kentucky Fried Partridge, a partially boned out drumstick, coated in a light seasoned crumb then deep fried. There are always fish and vegetarian options, both of which are just as good, if not better than, their meaty stablemates. There’s also a selection of classic pub grub dishes (sausages, burgers etc) that are really tasty and a slightly cheaper option. Sunday lunch is an excellent spread of traditional options done very well with the best horseradish sauce that I’ve had outside the Guinea Grill in Mayfair.

The puddings are all excellent and this winter have tended towards the sticky toffee, keep-the-cold-away sort. I tend to share as I’m a little full by then. The ice creams are universally lovely with kids’ chocolate and vanilla contrasted with salted caramel or honeycomb for adults or more adventurous kids.

I’ll stop soon before I sound like their PR advisor. (I’m a PR man by day, but for rather less pleasant businesses.) I’ll add that there’s a really attractive function room to hire which we liked so much when we had a family wedding party that we did it again a month later with mates. They do a pretty funky brunch/lunch with a cut-down menu that ranges from eggs benedict to chicken and waffles to sandwiches to burgers to lighter wraps etc.

Photo author’s own.

The only thing that I’d say on the debit/objective side of things is that if you want quality ingredients, a top kitchen brigade and a smart front of house team, you have to be prepared to pay for it. When it comes to price, the Sun matches John Lewis’s basic proposition. If you have the money to spend on a meal where you’re looking at £20-40 per head before you start drinking, this is as good a place as any in the Croydon/Sutton area to do it. I think that it’s good value, but I don’t pretend that it’s cheap. It costs what it costs – you can argue about that below the line.

In conclusion, this is what every town wants, but I feel is strangely (given the large and affluent population) absent in the parts of Croydon that I know best (Croydon/South Croydon/Waddon/Purley). It’s a proper independent pub, where you can drink as little or as much as you want and feel very comfortable doing so. At the same time, it’s a great place to eat as well, with a range of food that shows the kitchen’s talent and understanding of what many people like to eat. It’s a very well-run ship by a couple of people who both know their jobs very well and are friendly, hospitable hosts, and have turned it into what pubs should be: a community hub.

If anyone reading this has been to the original gastropub, the Eagle in Farringdon, the Sun is very much in the same bracket. Well worth getting on a 157 from West Croydon or the X26 from East Croydon or to try out.

Paddy Blewer

Paddy has lived in the Croydon / Sutton area since 1983 and in Waddon from 2001- 2015. A communications advisor in the City, he loves the variety of Croydon, particularly its options for eating and drinking and its great parks for the kids. A sports nut, supporting Munster, London Irish, Surrey CCC and Spurs, he has a sneaking regard for Palace, despite having a Millwall fan for a dad.

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  • Gav

    This is one of my locals. We took a stroll there on a sunny day on the weekend. It is invariably a good experience for us with the kids. My only complaint is that it is somewhat cramped for space but otherwise good food, good beer and pleasant surroundings especially in terms of its proximity to the ponds and museum.

    • Patrick Blewer

      Glad we feel the same Gav. You’re right, it’s not cavernous. Was there at lunchtime and just nabbed a table. Croydonians should book to avoid disappointment. Dinner more extensive menu than at lunchtime.

  • Anne Giles

    We might be interested.

  • Anne Giles

    I am glad that reviews on restaurants in Carshalton are allowed, because although I had a review on a restaurant in Beckenham (10 minutes from where we live), my next one in that area was turned down because it was not in Croydon. Not sure where the boundaries are supposed to be anymore.