When it comes to local dining options, the people of Balham, Richmond, Chelsea, and their neighbours have it pretty good.
Bear in mind: pizza’s off the menu at this local Italian. Here, it’s all about the pasta. And no – with dishes like gnocchi with walnuts and gorgonzola, the crowd-pleaser pappardelle with lamb ragu, or classic lasagne – it’s not quite the sort you can rustle up in eight minutes at home.
Robin Gill is a man well known in these parts, probably because he owns and has owned a handful of restaurants around Clapham in the past few years. His latest, Sorella, revolves around an Italian-based menu with produce from their own farm, and might just be his best yet.
Rihanna, Twitter, and global warming: there are few things of note from 2006 that remain relevant. Trinity, however, is another one – Adam Byatt’s seasonal menus are still a draw for local diners. Desserts, like the tarte tatin and Trinity chocolate tart, are well worth leaving room for.
Chez Bruce, Wandsworth
As far as London restaurants go, neighbourhood or not, Chez Bruce is a real heavy hitter. Despite its distance from the main goings on of the capital, it’s well known for its modern French cooking and superb cheese board. ‘Restaurants are not about celebrity chefs… they’re about customers,’ says chef-patron Bruce Poole. We couldn’t agree more.
London House, Battersea
Taking a less formal approach than some of his other venues, Gordon Ramsay’s Battersea restaurant is ideal for midweek suppers and drinks with friends. It serves classic British dishes – steaks, fish and chips, ham hock terrine – plus brunch and roasts at the weekend. On warm days, you can dine al fresco in the garden.
Hood is passionate about provenance and the friendly staff are more than happy to tell you about their English wine (from Sussex) or their veg (from a farm in Kent). When even the staff are local – the chef, for example, has lived in Streatham for three years – a ‘community restaurant’ is going to be exactly that.
Medlar has done everything it can to retain its neighbourhood feel. A well-priced menu (lunch, at £35, in Chelsea is a steal), consistency in the quality of its food, welcoming atmosphere, and an informal atmosphere (again, for Chelsea). Medlar opened to great reviews in 2011, and recent feedback suggests it’s still worth a visit.
Vijaya Krishna, Tooting
Don’t be put off by its dated website or extra-long menu – Tooting’s come a long way gastronomically in the last few years, but places like Vijaya Krishna suggest it’s had some culinary merit all along. The food can be described as South Indian in places, with a specific influence from Kerala.
Arlo’s, Balham and Battersea
Forget Kobe or Argentinian – the benchmark for good beef, anywhere in the world, comes from British native breeds. And Arlo’s – much like Hawksmoor and Blacklock – are hot on showing it off. Here, it comes in the form of bavette (flank) steak: a cheaper, but no less flavoursome, part of the animal. Try the Bavette Bismark, carved and served inside a bone marrow Yorkshire pudding with braised Malbec onions.
This is where the gang behind another, newer, neighbourhood haunt (Levan), originally rooted in. With more of a pan-European slant than its Franco-inspired sibling, the focus at Salon is on a seasonal four-course tasting menu, thankfully without the usual ceremony. In proper bistro fashion, it’s a bargain at £36 a head.
The King & Co, Clapham
Not really a restaurant per se, but there’s such dedication to good food here that it might as well be. From Monday to Saturday, the pub kitchen is taken over by some of London’s foremost street food traders and nomadic chefs – currently in residence is Brixton favourite Zoe Adjonyoh with her Ghanaian inspired menu. Meanwhile, on Sundays, roasts take centre stage.
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This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.