£30 - £49
32 Abbeville Road, SW4 9NG
A vibrant newcomer to Abbeville Road’s buoyant restaurant portfolio, Comensal has its compass firmly pointed at Mexico. The small front terrace leads to a bar and winding dining area. In warmer months, a folding facade allows the terrace to extend into the interior, where seating is at high long benches or cosier tables. Fresh white walls are enlivened by splashes of bright colours that aim to transport you to sunnier climes. Not to be missed in the bar is the signature Comensal cocktail (Tequila, agave syrup, lime, mint and chilli): a Mojito/Margarita cross with a kick. Food highlights include smoky, nutty guacamole and tacos ‘favoritos’ filled with salty prawns and avocado wedges. Aside from an overpriced helping of enchiladas de mole, every dish bursts with colour and authenticity. Moist, mealy corn-cakes are made and delivered daily by a Mexican lady from Streatham. Long may Comensal continue: it’s the real deal.
£30 - £49
148 Clapham Manor Street
, London, SW4 6BX
Along with Adam Byatt of Trinity, Robin Gill has done more than anyone to turn Clapham into a serious dining destination. It’s a mark of the chef’s confidence that he has closed his much-praised The Manor and opened this new Italian on the same site. The menu is split traditionally into cicchetti, antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci, but the best bit arrives before any of that: warm semolina sourdough served with three fabulous dips – ricotta given a silky finish by Jersey milk, pressed black olives, and a delectable melted parmesan.
This alone makes Sorella worth a visit, but we’d also recommend trying the £45 chef’s menu to get a small taste of everything else that the kitchen has to offer. Delicate starting snacks include juicy little balls of truffle arancini, olives fried in breadcrumbs, and turbot smoothly sandwiched between potato crisps and bursts of lemon. Elsewhere, standout dishes include a velvety crab linguine, a comforting bowl of fiery nduja ragu paired with strips of smoky pork, and light chocolate mousse served with vibrant fennel gelato. Italian-accented drinks, meanwhile, include Bellinis, spritzes and a cherry-smoked Negroni.
Sorella is the Italian word for ‘sister’, and with Counter Culture and The Dairy nearby, it’s a very welcome addition to Gill’s restaurant family.
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£30 - £49
44-48 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7UR
Replacing a branch of Belgo, Mommi is an altogether more exotic Clapham offering with its Japanese and South American sharing plates: a formula pioneered by Nobu. The large corner site comprises a bar – with high tables and bare bricks covered in colourful prints – and a restaurant with banquette-lined booths (great for groups). There’s also a robata grill and sushi counter where you can watch chefs in action. Raw-bar options include chirashi sushi, sashimi, tartare, tataki and ceviche at reasonable prices. Pretty plates arrive garnished with edible flowers, though we received poor cuts of fish that tended to be chewy. Only a sea bass and salmon ceviche stood out for its zesty dressing and fresh flavour. Hot dishes were more consistent, with top marks going to melt-in-the-mouth braised short-rib teriyaki with quinoa lime picante and spicy smoked paprika oil. Staff are friendly, though waits were long on a busy Friday. That said, Mommi’s ambitions stand out among Clapham’s identikit bars and pubs, and the feel-good factor is evident. DJs spin tunes at weekends, when two-for-one cocktails pack-in a party crowd. Try a Machu Pistachu with rye whiskey and pistachios. Appetising alternatives include an all-South American wine list and interesting craft beers.
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£30 - £49
15 The Pavement, SW4 0HY
This unpretentious bar/bistro is already a busy squeeze, although a central Clapham location isn’t its only trump card. Open all day from breakfast onwards, it also has a 2am late licence at weekends, when cool brand lagers and cocktails such as wild fennel and apple Hendrick’s are what to drink. Wines include a distinguished Lebanese Château Musar as well as everyday Tempranillo from a selection called ‘sleek, charming and fleshy’ – a description that might equally apply to the well-scrubbed clientele. Chef/owner Robin Gill’s adventurous, intricately presented tapas-style plates deploy ingredients from The Dairy’s garden – so expect smoked cod with sorrel, slow-cooked beef rib with ‘burnt’ onions and bone marrow or plates of black radish, Pink Lady apple, curd and hemp seeds – plus nibbles such as chicken liver mousse with rhubarb at the bar. Don't forget to check out recent addition Counter Culture, replacing the deli next door.
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£30 - £49
21 The Pavement, London, SW4 OHY
Pretty little Minnow is the kind of relaxed neighbourhood joint that suits the Clapham crowd perfectly, with its all-day offer running from breakfast to dinner, plus weekend brunch too. Decorated with pistachio walls and festooned with indoor greenery, there’s a light conservatory feel to the ground floor, while the basement has a darker, cosier vibe. It’s owned by Chris Frichot and Saba Tsegaye, with former head chef of Social Wine & Tapas Jake Boyce in the kitchen. His modern European menu showcases confident flavour combinations, with a few eclectic twists. Soft rings of squid make a light starter lifted by lemongrass, lime and ginger; while perfectly cooked pork loin is served with a robust purée of coffee and artichokes (far more delicious than it sounds) with a fruity hit of plums. Tipples include decent pay-as-you-drink bottles of wine, craft beers and clever Clapham-themed cocktails such as the elegant, saké-based Natsume. Charming service proves that Minnow may be small, but it has a big heart.
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£30 - £49
5-7 Voltaire Road, London, SW4 6DQ
Serving up a little slice of stylish West End-dom, Tsunami brings pizzazz to this less-than-chic backwater off Clapham High Street. The bar is a cool hangout with great cocktails, while the restaurant’s Japanese-western hybrid cooking is good enough to attract smart young locals with their friends, their dates and their parents. Expect good sushi (there’s a bi-monthly sushi rolling school here, for those who want to learn to make their own) and a few Japanese classics such as deep-fried tofu with grated daikon in dashi broth. Much of the menu, however, steers away from the old school, giving a gentle nod to the East – roast pork belly with green beans, for instance, made piquant with piri-piri hoi sin; or rib-eye with exotic mushrooms and truffle sauce. There’s a decent wine list and plenty of saké, and while the à la carte isn’t prohibitively expensive, the set lunch is ridiculously cheap.
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£30 - £49
40 Abbeville Road, London, SW4 9NG
With its daily specials written on rolls of brown paper, a bar adorned with homemade preserves, and pegs on the walls for hanging your coat – Bistro Union evokes the make-do-and-mend Britain of yore. Much of the menu produced by Adam Byatt’s team harks back to a time when food was primarily for comfort, reassurance and high-calorie fuel: there’s a breakfast fry-up, fish pie and toad in the hole for lunch, and rhubarb fool for pudding. Nevertheless, you’ll also find more interesting dishes that have left the nursery (and school dinners) behind. Try the grilled squid with parsley salad, served with a punch-packing aïoli; and finish off with a blackcurrant and almond tart (in essence, a very fine version of a Bakewell). Drinks include a couple of British sparklers, craft beers and ciders, but fear not: the wine list makes it easy to escape Blighty should you wish.
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£30 - £49
4 The Polygon, SW4 0JG
Launched as part of Trinity’s new look, Upstairs is altogether more casual than the smart restaurant below. Tall sharing tables, comfortable stools, buzzy background music and an open kitchen make a relaxed setting for a daily changing small-plates menu that showcases chef Adam Byatt’s mastery of complex flavours and textures. Classic vitello tonnato is sprinkled with nuggets of crackling; freshly barbecued squid is pointed up with vibrant gremolata and zesty green-chilli mayo; pink slivers of duck breast contrast with the dark sweetness of warm dates, topped by crunchy toasted buckwheat. Byatt’s attention to detail transforms even simple dishes into superstars: crispy zucchini fritti arrive with a delicious dollop of creamed pecorino; waxy Cornish new potatoes are given a Japanese makeover with velvety seaweed butter. To finish, soft salted caramel ice cream is superb; characterful wines on tap are another highlight. Add amiable service for a package that’s hard to resist.
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£50 - £79
One michelin star
4 The Polygon, London, SW4 0JG
“Everyone's favourite neighbourhood restaurant, now with star power!” declares one long-term admirer. Over the last decade, Trinity has grown from local gem to Michelin-gonged destination – thanks largely to chef-patron Adam Byatt and his team, who have created a genuinely bespoke experience here. The kitchen delivers a procession of “sublime” dishes well worth their accolades, from mini éclairs filled with rich, buttery cep mousse to the restaurant’s celebrated steak tartare – chunks of almost gamey Angus beef, mixed with pickled mushrooms, Daurenki caviar and smoked bone marrow, served in a vintage caviar tin. Elsewhere, pillow-like ravioli are filled with a fluffy, flavour-packed scallop and lobster mousse, while pink grouse breast comes dressed with hazelnuts and lardo, alongside creamy sweetcorn polenta and elderberries. To finish, the wobbly salt custard tart with salt caramel ice cream has us all a-quiver. Drinks are equally enticing, so sniff out the subtly hopped Trinity Ale or plump for a “gloriously different” G&T. The whole show takes place in a handsome room done out with parquet flooring, white tablecloths and muted colours, while service is deemed “amazing” and “delightful”.
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£30 - £49
15 The Pavement, London, SW4 0HY
This totally on-trend tapas bar comes from chef-of-the-moment Robin Gill, who has transformed the old deli attached to his big-hitting Dairy into a 15-seat temple to inventive cooking, with just one chef behind the counter and one person out front. Counter Culture takes bookings, it’s BYO and it’s great value too. Standouts from the eight-dish menu are many and varied: earthy salsify ketchup, scooped up on a Quaver-like curl of pork crackling; a jumble of beef tartare, caviar and radishes, all gleefully rubbed around the plate to mop up bone-marrow salad cream; charred mackerel with spiced cabbage and capers. Virtually nothing goes to waste and nearly everything is made on site using labour-intensive methods – check out the curing room and smokehouse, shelves of fermenting bottles and beehives on the roof. The restaurant’s website calls Counter Culture ‘The Dairy’s naughty little brother’; we’d add that it’s also very nice.
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