The Jam Tree offers a British take on colonial-inspired food and cocktails with a jam theme running throughout. Ideal for a first date, a relaxing dinner, post work drinks or even hosting your own private party – who doesn’t like jam right? The gastro-pub has plenty of other quirks too, take the toilets for instance, its Lionel Richie for the guys and Diana Ross for the ladies.
The pub is pretty spacious and features a long BLINGING bar which means you don’t feel cramped or pitched right next to a group who are pre-drinking for a heavy night out whilst you’re having a nice relaxing meal. We went along and sampled a couple of dishes from the menu including the buffalo wings, chicken skewers, raw tuna salad, and our favourite, the corn dogs. As far as cocktails go we’d recommend the Jam Tree version of a Mojito and the Marmalady, a concoction of Campari, vodka, apple juice, passionfruit and orange marmalade.
13 – 19 Old Town, SW4 0JT -
Darwin & Wallace specialise in neighbourhood restaurants mostly found in West London villages. We visited No 32 The Old Town, Clapham which serves up everything from breakfast to dinner, craft beer, clever cocktails and has a fine looking roof terrace.
The menu features classic British dishes with modern ingredients; think pigs cheek and black pudding croquettes, and haddock and spinach fish cakes all made on site. For mains there's typical gastro-pub dishes like mussels mariniere with fries and the No 32 house burger.
Portions are big but if you can fit in a dessert, the bitter chocolate tart with chocolate mousse and rice krispies is THE ONE. The service at No 32 The Old Town is pretty attentive and the staff are friendly, happy to help and are full of recommendations on drinks to suit your mood. As far as neighbourhood joints go, this one ticks all the boxes.
No 32 The Old Town, 32 The Pavement, SW4 0JE -
Trinity in Clapham has been feeding Londoners since 2006 and after a complete re-design of the restaurant chef Adam Byatt has now also launched 'Upstairs'. It is a much more casual affair than the traditional restaurant below, but there is definitely no compromise on the cooking, with each dish lovingly prepared by Adam.
Offering a changing daily menu of 12 small plates, perfect for sharing, and a ridiculously long wine list, we really were spoilt for choice. But the real stand out dish were the Veal Bolognese fritters, crispy on the outside with a rich, soft inside... they were some damn fine balls. Other favourites included the doughnut mozzarella topped with spiced aubergine and coriander and the BBQ Venison Fillet with sprout tops and chestnuts. With only a single dessert on the menu it has to be a real crowd pleaser, and the chocolate cremosa with salted caramel ice-cream certainly was.
Upstairs has taken Trinity to new levels (literally) and is defo one worth climbing the stairs to.
The Trinity, 4 The Polygon, SW4 0JG -
Nestled in and amongst a row of coffee shops and pubs on the south side of Clapham Common, the Pepper Tree is a neighbourhood gem offering its customers a variety of Thai dishes. You can expect super speedy service, a menu to suit those who love spice and everything nice and food served from brekkie to dinner. All bases covered.
Tables are communal, it's aptly decorated green and red (the colour of peppers, duh?!) but the best thing about this place is it's value for money with big dishes of creamy curries, spicy stir fried meats and steamy soups for under a tenner. For neighbourhood thai dining in Clapham, it pays to go to The Pepper Tree...
19 Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AB -
It doesn’t matter how long you have lived in London, you can always find new areas that you never knew existed, places off your map in parts of town you rarely visit. Bistro Union is one such place, hidden away at the far end of Clapham Common, a short walk from Clapham South tube station and is the latest opening from Clapham legend Adam Byatt. By mid-evening the restaurant is full of professional young Claphamites – some enjoying the full menu, others just dropping in for drinks and bar snacks.
We started with smoked pigs cheeks and cheese and marmite straws while we checked out the menu – presented as a primary school exercise book. The pigs cheeks are highly recommended – sliced wafer thin and served warm with toast, it’s a perfect ‘naughty but nice’ treat. The marmite straws? Well, you’ll either love them or hate them.
We went with the the beer and onion soup with welsh rarebit, and we’re glad we did. Made with craft beer from an independent brewer in Bristol, the beer adds a malty taste to the classic French-style soup. Irrespective of the temperature, you can’t go wrong with this soup. The salt beef with fried egg and piccalilli is beautifully presented in the frying pan presumably used to cook it, atop a wooden board with the handle wrapped in brown paper. As a homage to home-cooked comfort food, it’s perfect. Our guest, the daughter of a butcher, commends the salt beef as some of the best she has had. High praise indeed.
Mains do not disappoint either, the grilled quail is succulent and delicate and served with cauliflower and chickpeas. Naturally, it’s an effort to get the meat from the bones, but that’s quail for you. If someone could develop a boneless quail they’d be a millionaire. The steak and chips is a treat too, served on the rare side of medium rare unless requested otherwise, alongside mushroom ketchup, a delightfully original twist. The only drawback was that this particularly juicy cut is served on a flat board, meaning that meat juices were soon spilling onto the table. Desserts are beautiful too but unfortunately we could only room to share one, we opted for the Paris-Brest from the specials menu, a creamy pastry tart named after a stage of the Tour de France, we’re told.
Service is very friendly and well informed, with staff able to talk about the ingredients and their provenance, Bistro Union puts the ‘great’ in Great British food. How many more places like this hide away in London’s secret neighbourhoods we wonder...
40 Abbeville Road, SW4 9NG -
Some of the best restaurants we've been to recently have been neighbourhood joints, those independent eateries at the heart of a community, serving up creative, inventive meals. One such place is The Rookery in Clapham, a small kitchen and grill on the outskirts of the Common. Here, they pride themselves on creating simple, seasonal dishes with personality, and providing interesting beers and wines from small and independent suppliers.
Our meal kicked off with a fairly light starter, a board of three types of cured meats, Montgomery Cheddar, tiny pickled cornichons and fresh bread. Perfect for sharing, it's a classic well executed. We also sampled the arancini, five mini balls of deep fried risotto with pea, mint and Parmesan and a fantastic garlic dip.
The main course was a difficult choice - In the end, we opted for the giant house cheeseburger with coleslaw and a huge mound of fries, and the slow roasted pork belly with slaw and sweet potato mash. The burger was enormous, the bun barely able to contain the huge pile of toppings within it. The meat was pink in the middle, just on the rare side of medium, topped with tangy cheese, juicy tomato and sweet red onion relish. The fries were crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, a portion too big for one person really, but they were just too good to leave.The pork belly was a monster too, a giant slab of meat topped with crispy crackling and smothered in sweet barbecue glaze. Our only grumble was that the overabundance of barbecue sauce meant that we couldn't quite taste the mash or slaw, which was served beneath the pork.
Rounding off the meal, we had just about enough room to share a dessert between us. We went for the white chocolate and rocky road mousse, topped with blueberries, a pretty sweet end to an ACE meal. The Rookery is a great neighbourhood restaurant, with a creative menu stuffed with tempting sounding treats. We can't wait to go back and sample some more!
69 Clapham Common South Side, SW4 9DA -
Every neighbourhood deserves a first class place where local people can get great breakfasts', healthy lunches and delicious but inexpensive dinners. Ben's Canteen aims to be just that in Clapham, serving classic British food, done well in a relaxed atmosphere.
It has an informal, friendly atmosphere and a menu of old favourites; from eggs benedict for breakfast, sausage and mash pie on the lunch list and steak, pork chops and venison pie on the evening menu. We chose to try a selection of smaller dishes to sample as many options as possible. The all day breakfast scotch egg was a treat, a combination of bacon and sausage meat packed around a soft boiled egg, encased in black pudding crumbs. This can be found on the 'small plates' menu, but was almost big enough to be a meal in itself.
This was accompanied by cod cheeks with parsley pesto, a cut of fish usually thrown away but here it is the only cod on the menu because of the ethical implications of overfishing. Tasty and environmentally sound - bonus! The beef brisket slider is beautifully tender strips of grilled beef in a bun with bone marrow mayonnaise which goes down a treat with meat lovers. The mayo is apparently a nightmare to make, but totally worth the effort in our opinion.
Potted ham hock terrine comes served with home made piccalilli and toast, rich and tender but for us, the highlight was the deep fried pig's cheeks with homemade salad cream. Melt in the mouth tender, they are the one dish we insist you order. All this was followed by a cheeseboard of four dairy delights including Stilton and Brie. The menu is definitely aimed at open minded carnivores, but those who give it a go will be rewarded.
140 St John's Hill, SW11 1SL -
Name sound familiar? That's because it's sister bar, Northcote Records is just across the common on the other side of Clapham. This branch on, you guessed it, Venn Street, is pretty much more of the same, with drinking, dancing, pizza and music to the late hours. But then again, change isn't always necessarily a good thing, right?
78 Venn St, SW4 0BD -
Don't be deceived: if you head to Northcote Records in the hopes of picking up your favourite tracks on vinyl, you are going to be sorely disappointed. If you are in search of cocktails, live music and dancing however, you've definitely come to the right place. With bands on pretty much every night of the week, this jumpin' joint is a great place to grab a pizza, grab a drink, or grab a partner and dance the night away!
8-10 Northcote Road, SW11 1NT -
Ever wanted to know what the inside of a secret treasure trove looked like? Visit the antiques market on Northcote Road and you can find out. The TARDIS-like indoor market, which is set out over a couple of levels, is home to a wealth of vintage goods, from antiques, to retro design pieces, to jewellery and much, much more. Be prepared to rummage, be prepared to haggle - but take it from us, it's worth it.
155a Northcote Rd, SW11 6QB -
Whether you are looking for a bargain or want to do a little good, Traid is a one stop shop for secondhand clothing, whoever you are. Offering a large range of clothing, from men's to women's to children's plus accessories to boot, there's a lot on offer at this deceptively large store, fronted by TRAID's iconic and unusual window dressing. Let's get ready to rummage!
28 Falcon Road, Clapham Junction, SW11 1PW -
Calling all culture vultures: Battersea Arts Centre is one of the best places to check out new plays, live music and youth activities in the area. Working with over 400 artists to put on at least 650 shows EVERY YEAR, they really know how to get things done. Feeling peckish? There is also a bar and cafe open all day so you never have to leave... well, you may have to eventually... but you get the idea!
Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TN -
Foodies be warned: this market might just be the undoing of you and your bank balance. Giving the opportunity for independent producers and farmers to come face to face with consumers every Saturday is Venn Street Market. From fruit and veg, to bread, fish, eggs and street food, this food-lover's paradise is a great place to pick up fresh produce and hear about it's heritage from the people in the know.
Venn St, SW4 0AT -
One of the larger, green spaces in South London, Clapham Common is a haven for joggers, yummy mummies and selfie-enthusiasts. Featuring three large ponds and it's iconic, late Victorian bandstand, you can't really get better, especially when the sun's out!
Windmill Dr, SW4 9DE -