Reviewed: Sunday lunch at The Clarence

Sunday lunch at The Clarence is all we know – we’ve visited in the evenings occasionally, but not since their revamp last year. We always thought it looked good but each patch of wall is covered in some artwork, or even the weather forecast. (Did we take pics? No, that would have been far too organised. In our defence it was the final day of the Premier League so our attention was elsewhere). They’ve also added a pizza oven and menu to boot (yet to try – let us know what you think if you have). They’ve banished the small outdoors space and replaced it with glass roofing, which brightens up the corner but can be a little stuffy in the sunshine.

They have table service which is both convenient and lethal. You barely need to move except for toilet breaks, so standing up after copious amounts of alcohol is lethal. Their Sunday roast menu is short but we always think that’s a good sign – an overloaded menu means less attention is spent on the dishes, yes?

We had beef brisket and pork belly. One consistency is their portion sizes – you will NOT go hungry (unless you’re Adam Richman of Man v Food fame, of course). The plates are piled high, as demonstrated here. They serve their condiments and gravy separately too, which gets massive bonus points (we’ve not met anyone who doesn’t get grumpy over allocated gravy portions).

The meat was excellent quality – no mean slices of what you’d otherwise find in the school canteen or a shop sandwich. Heck, with the creamed leeks they made greens interesting! They’ve got a good selection of beers and their wine glasses are a good, big size (this is important). The downside? Table service can sometimes be harder to navigate than simply queuing up at the bar – we had to fight for attention a couple of times, and we never got the dessert we ordered (we never paid for it either, at least). As mentioned before it was a particularly busy day so we’ll cut some slack but it’s worth noting.

The roasts cost around £12 each max, and so far this is the best value roast we’ve experienced.

Enq. The Clarence, 90-92 Balham High Road, SW12 9AG.

Balham shopping: Fred & Pickles (plus reader discount offer)

If, like us, you can’t spend time on the computer without buying a little something then check out Fred & Pickles, a Balham-based shopping site. They cover a huge range of boutique brands – think LSA, Lisa Stickley, Rob Ryan and Tatty Devine – boasting products that are worthy of being at the top of the barometer and Christmas wish lists.

We’ve got our eye on the following:

Cup & Saucer 3-tier Cake Stand, £39.99

 

‘Tea Time’ Tea Towel, £10 (if you’ve got to do the dry, might as well make it fun)

 

Littala Taika Coffee Cup and Saucer Set, £19

 

 

Fred & Pickles is offering SwishJunction readers 20% off all products until 9am Friday 6th April, so treat yourselves this payday. Simply enter code ILOVEFRED in the promotions box at the checkout.

Do tell us what you end up buying…

 

Lamberts Restaurant, Balham High Road

Not our first visit, Lamberts is a bit of a bi-annual treat. A tad too expensive to make it really regular and like all good things, you don’t want to overexpose yourself and tire of it (though we doubt that’ll happen).

The excuse of a 6-month wedding anniversary and a new food season was enough to lure us back into the small, comfy confines of Lamberts. A couple in front of us hadn’t booked and we’re trying their luck at getting a table. Fat chance; Lamberts is consistently busy, especially at the weekend. It doesn’t require a long pre booking period like Chez Bruce, but calling a few days ahead is recommended.

We love a few consistent aspects about this place. One is the bottle of filtered (and free, might we add – none of that tap water snobbery here) water plonked on your table upon arrival and continually filled throughout your meal. Two is the friendly staff on hand to help you through the wine and food menus. A fondness for red wine had stalled when headaches began to occur only after a glass. After explaining this the waiter recommended a Pinot Noir – Les Templiers – one of their cheaper bottles. Still a smooth, light taste but without the acidity that seems to leave a furry taste in the mouth (oh hello morning after…).

Onto the food. We excelled ourselves with 3 courses PLUS cheese. The starters we sampled were Langoustine from the specials and Selsey Crab, Potato Pancake and Dill Picked Quail’s Egg. The langoustine was all in its unshelled glory, claws and everything. If you’re not into getting your hands a little dirty and working for your dinner then don’t go for it. (Apologies for the out of focus starter pics!)

The main course had that great combination of gorgeous presentation but impressive portion sizes – we defy you to feel hungry after finishing your plate. The side dishes are, at first impression, on the small side but as ever, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.

Most visits here involve the consumption of red meat – the quality is some of the best in south west London for the price you pay. Our choices tonight were rump beef (32 day aged, no less – although we can’t pretend we know what this means) served with  bone marrow, Dauphinoise, glazed carrot and heaps of horseradish – homemade, we’re guessing, as it was quite creamy and not too eye-watering. The venison haunch (sorry Bambi), potato rosti and beetroot fondant felt more autumnal but still delicious – kudos to getting fresh beetroot that soft!

Dessert: the sorbet was fresh and zingy (a great excuse for dessert when you’re not really that hungry) and if you fancy a mixture of sweet and sharp, go for the doughnuts with forced rhubarb (forced? why? were they picked/cooked against their will?) is a good option.

All in all, if you have a spare £100 (ahem) then you could do worse than treat you and your fave person to a dinner here. Their lunches are often good value too, if you’re sensible with the add ons; we once took advantage of the ‘3 courses for £20’ but we forgot to budget for booze. £80 each later… ahem again.

Lamberts Restaurant, 2 Station Parade, Balham High Road, SW12 9AZ. Enq: 020 8675 2233.

Tiger Lilly Florists, Balham

A short but sweet (and pretty) post. It’s nice what a 6 month wedding anniversary will bring. This beautiful bouquet is from Tiger Lilly, a mixture of gerberas, tulips, eucalyptus and the most beautiful smelling white roses. Pictured below is the bouquet upon delivery, then a day after with a little help from the sunshine.

 

For a more economically sound way to brighten up the living room we’ve taken to buying a fresh bunch of tulips from Petals in Balham each Saturday (on Hildreth Street facing the main high street), plus Sainsbury’s in Balham always does a good deal on daffs that seem to last the week. Hurrah for Spring…

Enq: Tiger Lilly, 3 The Boulevard, SW17 7BW. 020 8675 5454.

Annie In The Attic, Balham High Road

We’ve been meaning to visit and post this blog for ages, ever since our visit to The Vintage Event at The Balham Bowls Club whet our appetites for more vintage fare. It’s well hidden on the high street, save for a placard on the pavement advertising the shop above a hairdressers (indeed, in an attic).

The first thing that struck us was the space – so many vintage shops cram everything in making it really hard to browse properly. Clothing and furniture are almost treated like art, and the attic itself is light and airy.

Annie In The Attic (the girls behind The Vintage Event) are a mother and daughter team who share the task of sourcing and selling. The mother has an eye for 60s vintage while the daughter often picks up fashion finds from the 80s to sell, so you’re guaranteed a fab mix of fashion.

Prices vary as you’ll find some unique pieces there and the pricing can reflect this. There’s a rail of wedding attire to the right of the store and we spotted the most fabulous shift dress with real ostrich feathers, not dissimilar to a Louise Vuitton number as modelled by Kate Moss. We doubt it’s there now – indeed a recent, heart-broken customer had to leave it on the rail as she couldn’t quite fit into it, otherwise it would have been long gone before we got there.

During our visit we snapped up an old find displayed in one of their cabinets – a King Edward VIII coronation commemorative mug. At £8, it’s not a bad price for a bit of history that didn’t quite happen.

Annie In The Attic, Balham High Road, SW12 9AP