Thali & Pickles, Balham

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We really wanted to like Thali & Pickles. The brainchild of Indian Room down the road in Balham, and Indian Moments on Northcote Road, this is a more modern offering serving street food. Plus filling where Trinity Cafe used to be with something other than an estate agent is always a bonus.

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While the aforementioned excel in your traditional curry house fare, housed with cloth decked tables and piping music in the background (and we love it – some things should never change), the decor here is more up-to-date and reflective of the food trends we’ve seen in the past couple of years.

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The menu is smaller than a typical Indian restaurant but that’s never a bad thing, of course. We opted to share the Pav Bhaji starter and each went for the thali, choosing the chicken and seafood variants.

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The starter at first glance just looked odd. Upon further scrutiny we realised that a ‘pav bun’ is an Indian bread roll. A quick Google gave us the conclusion that not all pav buns are the same – some are sweet, some are quite dense and chewy in texture. Ours was slightly buttered with a sesame seed topping and to be honest, could have been plucked out of packet from Sainsbury’s. Unlike naans or chapatis, there was no real distinction.

The Pav Bhaji starter at Thali & Pickles

The Pav Bhaji starter at Thali & Pickles

The vegetable bhaji mixture it came with hit the right notes with its earthy, spicy taste. Perhaps we’re too westernised when it comes to our penchant for Indian food but we weren’t keen.

Onto the thalis. When ordering the chicken we hadn’t banked on getting a korma. Big mistake. The other additions to the dish were dips, chickpeas, a traditional bhaji and a pudding (the dark coloured ball) which we didn’t try so can’t offer an opinion. The other flavours were very sweet with minimal spice so combined with a main that lacked power, the whole dish was a let down.

The Maharja Murgh thali (aka chicken korma. sad times)

The Maharja Murgh thali (aka chicken korma. sad times)

The seafood one, however, was a lot tastier – plenty of depth and gave the whole dish the kick it needed.

The seafood thali was more impressive

The seafood thali was more impressive

The other downer was the overall price. One starter, two thalis, one alcoholic drink and one soft drink came to around £45. Quite the dent in the pocket when it’s not an extravagant spending spree. If we’d gone all-out with three courses, booze, coffees after dinner then sure, we’d expect to a sizeable sum. This felt like a hit to our budget without the post dinner satisfaction.

We’re not saying don’t go to Thali & Pickles. The rest of their menu looks great and if Indian Room is anything to go by, their traditional curries are probably spot on. For us though that isn’t street food. We could go down the road to their sister restaurant and get the same but at a cheaper price. Sadly an underwhelming experience.

Thali & Pickles, 5-6 Balham Station Road, SW12 9SG.

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Artwork on Balham High Road – Tod Hanson

It’s not just West Norwood who have gone to lengths to inject some creativity onto the high street.

Over the past few months Balham High Road has had a little arty makeover of its own, and it looks like it’s down to one person.

Artwork on Balham High Road

Photo: Tod Hanson

Tod Hanson is an artist specialising in large-scale work. Previous projects have included graphic works with Greenpeace UK and painting the interiors of nightclubs. Most recently he was set the task of giving Balham a paint job, the results of which can be seen on the street next to Waitrose, covering up what was previously known at the ‘ugly wall’.

Tod was commissioned by Wandsworth Council and the Balham Partnership, with the help of arts company Modus Operandi art to create this piece. Look closely and you’ll see that the paintwork gives a nod to the history of Balham. A digital piece, it’ll remain in place for three years.

Photo: Tod Hanson

Photo: Tod Hanson

Tod was also the man behind the new green ceramic tiling by the station, just underneath the railway bridge. Not a bad way to liven up a poorly lit, damp part of town.

Photo: Tod Hanson

Photo: Tod Hanson

Now where else in south London could do with a lick of paint?

Review: Tapas at The Lounge Bar, Balham

In a town where so much has changed over the past few years, there are some establishments that stand the test of time. The Lounge in Balham will be celebrating 13 years this year – no mean feat.

Tapas selection at the lounge bar balham

Pictured: chorizo in red wine sauce, scallops, cod croquets, patatas bravas, the remainder of a dish of olives…

It’s consistently popular with the locals though, and if you haven’t been before, make an effort to go – you won’t be disappointed. Don’t let the simplistic decor fool you; behind these doors is a vast menu of delicious tapas dishes masterminded by an incredibly hardworking husband and wife team.

Spicy garlic prawns - mind the eye-watering chillis...

Spicy garlic prawns – mind the eye-watering chillis…

Most items on the menu are what you’d get in every tapas restaurant but what makes The Lounge so unique is that they take a simple dish and, well, pimp it up. The classic Patatas Bravas dish isn’t just chips and ketchup, it’s crispy chunks of potato in a spicy tomato sauce that we’ve never been able to replicate at home. It’s the same with their meat dishes – when you order the meatballs and chorizo, be sure to order a side of ciabatta to dunk into the rich sauce. #yum.

A side of bread to dunk is a must with these meatballs

A side of bread to dunk is a must with these meatballs

The restaurant fills up fast at the weekends so we’ve been taking to getting our fix during the weekday (except Mondays, when it’s closed) when we’re more likely to get a table immediately.

5-6 dishes between two of you is more than enough. Throw in a couple of drinks and the bill is typically around £40.

If you fancy finding out more about their menu we reviewed the Lounge Bar three years ago, here.

Reviewed: dinner at Lamberts, Balham

It’s been a while since we last visited Lamberts and while they’ve made some tweaks here and there, the cosy but smart atmosphere remains.

The ingenious menu layout at Lamberts

The ingenious menu layout at Lamberts

So what’s new? Well their menu still changes on a monthly basis to reflect the food available each season (so by the time you read this it’ll probably have changed again), but the printed format has changed. Instead of your conventional ‘starters, mains, desserts’ layout, the sections are split into ‘Field’ for vegetarian dishes, ‘Sea’ for fish and ‘Farm’ for meat, with those under £10 being starters, and plates over £10 the mains.

Lamberts Their delicious mackerel and pickled cucumber starter Balham

Their delicious mackerel and pickled cucumber starter

Naturally we delved into the sea and farm sections, ordering mackerel, steak and beef cheeks (look past the squeamish “ugh! I’m eating a cow’s cheek!” factor and you’ll revel in the tender chunks of meat. A bit like pulled beef. In other words, PHWOAR).

Lamberts Balham seasonal menu, including steak, beef cheeks and greens

Vegetarians, look away now

A close up of the chargrilled rare breed beef

A close up of the chargrilled rare breed beef

Beef cheek with January King (that's the green stuff on the side)

Beef cheek with January King (that’s the green stuff on the side)

Even some of the drinks get a seasonal nod. Our pre-dinner cocktail featured rhubarb and as you’d probably expect from a restaurant of this standard, food was matched or recommended with various wines on offer.

The 'rhubarb collins' cocktail at Lamberts, Balham

The ‘rhubarb collins’ cocktail

Custard tart, Lamberts style

Custard tart, Lamberts style

You get all the smartness of a high-end restaurant at Lamberts but without the fine dining portion sizes (you know what we mean – baby sized meals served with a side of weird looking froth). Believe us, you won’t go hungry. We didn’t really need dessert, per se, but it would be rude not to indulge, and so we did – in their custard tart, a far cry from our school days, that’s for sure.

Lamberts, 2 Station Parade, Balham High Road, SW12 9AZ. 

Framers in Balham

Since owning a property we’ve been a big giddy about being able to, y’know, do stuff to the walls. Paint! Blutack! Okay maybe not the sticky stuff, we’re not students anymore. We’ve graduated onto buying prints and hanging them up (nails! Into walls!), but first, we need to get them framed.

Sadly it’s not cheap, but we’re telling ourselves that we’ll have these pictures and prints forever. Still, save up a little before you go, or at least expect to pay a more than you think and you won’t be *too* shocked.

We’ve tried a couple of places in Balham. Noel Studios is also a gift shop, making it easier than ever to part with your dosh. They did a good job of framing our Italian illustration and helped to choose between mounts and colour finishes (who knew?).

The Italian illustration framed by Noel Studios, Balham

The Italian illustration framed by Noel Studios, Balham

 

More recently we’ve been using the services of Ian’s Artworks. Mimi is so passionate about art and her job that it’s infectious. She loves seeing what people bring in and really helps you find the best way to frame your piece of art. She recently worked on our south London illustration we picked up at the Postcode Prints stall at West Norwood FEAST (which we blogged about a couple of months ago).

South London print framed by Ian's Artworks

The Postcode Print of south London framed by Ian’s Artworks

 

The framing cost around £55, but if you get multiple items framed it’s possible to try and get a small discount. You can find more about this company via their Twitter profile.