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|Address:||409 Clapham Road, London SW9 9BT|
|Tel:||020 3551 5138|
|Price: £43.00||Wine: £16.00||Champagne: £40.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon- Fri 6-10.30pm Sat-Sun12N-4pm 6-10.30pm|
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Four O Nine stands like a lighthouse in the midst of the sea of gastro mediocrity which otherwise characterises the bar-heavy Clapham High Street. Unlike most lighthouses though, it is a bit tricky to find for the first time visitor. The Infernos shipwrecked don't usually stumble in here looking for a kebab, and that's part of its hidden location (find the buzzer, up the stairs, through the mini-roof garden) appeal. There's none of the pretension of a secret restaurant here though. It's all about appealingly rustic, reassuringly traditional-sounding, chunky dishes. One delicious, Albarino-filled glass too many may have impaired my ability to remember all the flavour nuances of my meal but I think it involved a rather pleasant foie gras pate-y thing with a lovely artichoke sauce and then a rabbit pie, which I definitely polished off, along with some crunchy carrot and spring green sides, followed by a chocolate cake with a surprisingly punchy lavender sorbet. The food here never disappoints but you do pay for that reliability: starters are around £8 and mains from £16 to £24ish, so not that cheap for this area, but it is worth it. Despite the many windows which overlook the High St it is quite dark and cosy inside; low lighting and flickering table candles enhance the clandestine mood. The atmosphere has been described as “flat” but I would say it's blissfully subdued and relaxed compared to the carnage outside, as the clientele are clearly here for good eating and drinking, rather than raucous scoffing and boozing. Service is, as befits the venue, professional but friendly. Four O Nine is the perfect place for dates or for an intimate evening with friends and quite frankly it's the best place for dinner around here. Steer your course away from this one only to head for that other beacon, Trinity, if you're looking for something a bit more formal.