From The Pavement to the Abbeville Road, Clapham has undergone a culinary renaissance in recent years, and is now firmly on the map as a destination not to be missed for London foodies. Here are the best places.
Launched by husband and wife Robin and Sarah Gill in November 2014, The Manor, together with sister branch The Dairy, is at the forefront of the Clapham restaurant revolution. This place is dedicated to modern cooking techniques. It serves high-quality seasonal British produce with as much grown on The Dairy’s roof-top garden as possible. The Manor offers a refreshing dining experience full of unusual flavour combinations and dishes that appear to have their very own colour palette.The cauliflower, grue de cacao, medjool dates, and kefir, and the hay-smoked pigeon, fermented grains, parsnip, and hemp granola are not to be missed. Served as medium-sized plates, dishes can be enjoyed as part of a tasting menu or à la carte.
Nestled in one of Clapham’s foremost culinary hot spots, the Abbeville Road, among the likes of The Ginger Pig, The Abbeville Kitchen, and Comensal is La Bonne Heure. It is perhaps less well known than some of its more famous neighbours. But it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. With a traditional menu of French classics, La Bonne Heure offers authentic cooking executed to a high standard, at very reasonable prices. The pan-fried scallops St Jacques, served with a creamy cauliflower purée that off-sets a tangy pomegranate dressing, are a must-try. Meanwhile, the mouthwateringly tender rib eye steak with pommes frites and béarnaise sauce would satisfy even a home-sick Parisian.
One of the newer additions to Clapham’s dining scene, WC – or WC Wine & Charcuterie as it is more formally known – is housed in a 100-year-old ‘water closet’. As the name suggests, in this public-loo-turned-wine-bar visitors can expect to cosy up in disused cubicles, or perch at candle-lit tables where the basins once were, with mosaic flooring and wall tiles all meticulously restored (and cleaned). Offering a selection of internationally sourced snacks, small plates, cheeses, and, of course, charcuterie, this place welcomes patrons to eat or drink as they choose. The drinks list offers a comprehensive selection of wine as well as cocktails and beers from nearby Brixton Brewery. WC has recently introduced live music on a Sunday night to stave off the Monday blues.
While the decor may be a tad tired, this Clapham institution more than makes up for appearances with its expertly cooked and beautifully presented food. Offering an extensive menu covering everything from sushi to snow crab dumplings to wasabi chicken, Tsunami serves up Japanese classics to perfection. Many even have an unexpected twist. Not to be missed is the salmon tartar, served in a jar within a bowl of dry-ice, and finished off with a dash of broth and an egg yolk at the table. Tsunami’s attention to detail even extends to the side dishes, with the blanched spinach being presented as a jaunty row of little towers in a sweet sesame sauce. With Sunday lunch deals, this hidden gem is an excellent alternative to a pub roast.
On Abbeville Road, Bistro Union is the ideal destination for anyone looking for a comfort food fix. As well as the hearty classics like macaroni and cheese and toad in the hole, Bistro Union also does more refined dishes. These include grilled quail with chickpeas, and smoked haddock and beetroot.With a carefully cultivated neighbourhood-bistro feel, this place’s founder Adam Byatt has even introduced a Sunday Supper Club. This lets locals enjoy a set three-course menu, with a BYOB free corkage policy. Nearby Bottle Apostle (a one-stop shop for some of the finest wines, beers, and spirits in Clapham) has also got in on the action. It offers a weekly wine pairing whereby customers can pre-order for delivery direct to their table, or collect in-store.
The Dairy is similar to its sister restaurant The Manor (also in Clapham) in that it serves seasonal British food but here there is a stronger vegetarian offering – no doubt thanks to the produce grown on their roof – with the likes of Grezzina courgette, ricotta and pumpkin seed praline and Grelot onion, polenta and summer veg sitting alongside their land and sea dishes. And right next door is Counter Culture, a tiny 15-seater place that serves up snacks created with pickled and fermented produce in an effort to be sustainable. Whilst it makes for a great pit-stop before you head into The Dairy, the morsels here are so good you might find yourself sticking around.
Although one building, there are actually two restaurants at Trinity, run by chef Adam Byatt. The main Trinity is Michelin-starred and offers more of a fine dining experience, with a considerable wine cellar and a four-course dinner menu, featuring plates like young grouse with sweetcorn polenta, elderberries and lardo, and chocolate and hazelnut delice with amaretti and cherry sorbet. The second, aptly named Upstairs at Trinity, is a more relaxed affair with a daily changing menu of small plates, so you can enjoy a Trinity experience whatever your budget.