Here is a snapshot of my favourite places to go in Cla’am (disclaimer: some of which may not be as good as they used to be!).
The Landor – my great friend Niki and I lived pretty much opposite (and in) The Landor for about 3 years. Good old man’s pub with pool tables, where you can always get a seat and some decent pub grub. Has a huge beer garden that is inexplicably neglected in favour of the packed Falcon and it even has its own theatre which recently showed the critically acclaimed “Stockwell”. The roasts are perhaps not as good as somewhere like the Calf but its still a chilled out comfy place for a quiet pint.
La Terraza – Awesome authentic Spanish tapas bar, restaurant and music venue on Bedford Road. I’ve been in with El Grumpo and also with some drunken friends having spilled out of The Falcon and both times had a wicked night – great food, regulars at the bar, keyboard players doing Spanish music and a collection of locals dancing the salsa. Has a terrace outside in summer where I drool over people eating calamares with a cold beer.
The Loft – Run by the brilliant recently-refurbished Plan B guys, it bizarrely won Time Out’s best bar prize and I wouldn’t go that far, but during the week it is a great spot for drinks with mates in a “New York” warehouse style bar with views over Clapham high street. Good cocktails, lounge seats and music but the food is average at best, and at weekends it’s packed. They are currently doing 2 courses for £2 on their winter restaurant menu and 50% off roasts on Sundays.
The Calf – dark and almost gothic with wooden floors and tables and velvet curtains, the Calf has an amazing selection of beers, cider and wine, really good pub grub and roasts, lovely bar staff and with board games liberally strewn around and large comfy sofas, the sort of place you can roll up, curl up and stay all day.
Cafe Cairo – this is apparently now closed because of a fire but in case it has re-opened I wanted to include it as it was probably the most interesting place in Clapham. It had an upstairs Moroccan tent style room where you sat on the floor while drinking red wine, smoking a shishah and eating humous, merguez, pitta and greek salad. Small room downstairs with crazy house DJs and wild party crowd. Post-smoking ban they appeared to simply cut a whole in the roof but not sure how shishah smoking would continue in winter. Lets hope it re-opens!
The Stonhouse – comfy, cosy warm pub to go for delicious steaks and red wine.
Four O Nine – Impeccable service and posh grub just above the Clapham North. Great for taking your mum, your best friend and for a date. Pretty much permanent 50% off food through toptable so if it’s struggling, take advantage before it disappears. Not as good as Upstairs on Acre Lane though.
Clapham Picturehouse – lovely local cinema featuring interesting mix of films and a homely little bar. Or try the Brixton Ritzy, its sister cinema, which is housed in a sprawling old Victorian building with quirky bar and roof terrace. Sadly, ticket prices aren’t cheap but that seems to be across the board in London.
Fish Club – Fab fish and chips in a minimal, basic restaurant. Potted crab, battered haddock and plaice with fish and chips and musy peas are all delicious and fresh – I’d like to go back to try the grey mullet, bream and seafood.
Secondo – great vintage clothes shop under the arches next to Clapham High Street station. Great cakes, quiches and pies, and great selection of vintage clothes, shoes and furniture. Also check out their Brixton sister shops.
Tsunami – stylish Japanese restaurant on Voltaire road. Good selection of sushi and sashimi and great mains like black cod and Wasabi steaks.
Esca – buzzing deli with large sharing tables and a great selection of sandwiches, cakes and salads. Good to pick up a coffee and read the paper, and to buy nice ground coffee and other kitchen treats. Not cheap though!
Special mentions go to The Falcon (old favourite but don’t like the new squished up garden and suddenly full of very young people, either that or I’m suddenly older eek), El Rincon Latino (good tapas bar), Belgo Bierodrome (yummy moules frites), So:UK and the White House (both were very good “back in the day” for girlie cocktails and a dance), Traders (beer and dim sum, great combination), Gastro (authentic French restaurant with decent food and great wines served in cute little tumblers, sadly a little overpriced), Metro (romantic garden restaurant) and Arch 639 (for having a name we always got wrong and managing to combine good DJs and pool with the narrowest bar in the world – weekend nights sometimes a bit hit or miss though). Aquum is nice in summer to sit outside and drink wine, although the white leather seats and poncey bouncers put me off going at any other time. Infernos was my special place during law school but no longer will I cross its threshold.
I’m also dying to try Breads Etcetera for its wonderful sounding breakfasts including Scandanavian breakfast with fish roe, cheese and ham and DIY toast – yum.