The King & Co Clapham kitchen residency – Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen

The King & Co, Clapham

While pub food has certainly become more extravagant than before (pulled pork served with everything, most likely on a wooden slab instead of a humble plate), the King & Co have turned the age old tradition of ‘pub grub’ on its head by offering a changing menu every two months. We love this idea – there will always be something new to try and a platform for up and coming chefs who might not otherwise get such an opportunity. The only downside, we guess, would be that if you find yourself fond of a particular dish you’d need to savour it while it lasts!

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Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is the latest to set up home, cooking up African dishes from now until 31st May. The menu is short but sweet, comprising small tapas sized portions where the recommendation is about 2-3 plates per person.

The menu at the King & Co, Clapham

The menu at the King & Co, Clapham

There’s enough for veggies to get involved but the signature dishes really lie with the meat lovers. Our favourite was the mutton with satay sauce, and pork belly – generous cuts cooked for so long it just falls apart.

Pork belly with sweet plantain jus (closest to camera) and Zoe's signature peanut butter stew with mutton

Pork belly with sweet plantain jus (closest to camera) and Zoe’s signature peanut butter stew with mutton

Cassava croquettes and Red Red were among the vegetarian options Zoe's Ghana Kitchen Clapham

Cassava croquettes and Red Red were among the vegetarian options

Other hits were the mackerel (look past the minor food admin of small bones and you’ve got tender spicy fish) and ‘red red’, delicious black beans in a rich tomato sauce topped with parmesan.

Jollof chicken skewers

Jollof chicken skewers

The only disappointment was the lack of ‘Puff Puff Handmade Doughnuts’, because the kitchen weren’t able to make them properly the night we visited.

Mackerel fillets in chilli, lemon and garlic

Mackerel fillets in chilli, lemon and garlic

Still feeling hungry? Their Instagram page will get your stomach rumbling even more…

If you’ve not been to the King & Co before, there’s no sectioned-off restaurant area. Eating takes place in the heart of the pub and, with the tapas attitude of “you eat when it arrives at the table”, the whole vibe is very relaxed.

If south west London is a stretch, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen frequents Peckham Springs on a Friday night too. Result.

The King & Co, 100 Clapham Park Road, SW4 7BZ

Mama Lan, Clapham

Mama Lan, Clapham

Blink while walking along Clapham High Street and you may well miss Mama Lan, a discreet set-up on The Pavement (on the same side of the road as Little Waitrose, walking towards Old Town).

Mama Lan first set up home in Brixton Village but has expanded, with this cute abode as its second premises.

We went early-ish on a Saturday – about 12:45 – and easily got a seat, but predictably it filled up fast so like with most places where you can’t book ahead, it’s worth nabbing a seat early on, unless you don’t mind a short wait.

Who said you couldn't have a garden in London?

Who said you couldn’t have a garden in London?

The layout is simplistic but cosy; exposed brick walls, wooden flooring and tables, but with cute touches – note the plants above the main lighting platform at the front of the restaurant.

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Mama Lan serves a pared down menu split into bigger meals with noodles and soup as the base, or smaller, dim sum style snacking (dangerous, if you’re comparing it to visiting somewhere like Ping Pong).

The Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

The Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

We ordered the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup and Spicy Chicken Ban Mein, along with Pork & Chinese Leaf dumplings. Their dumplings are cooked fresh on site so expect a short wait, but to be honest it’s hardly a bother when you’ve got the comfort of knowing they’re not just taken out of the freezer – oh and they taste amazing, too.

The Spicy Chicken Ban Mein

The Spicy Chicken Ban Mein

The mains certainly have a kick to them – we took advantage of the free water on offer – but as you’d expect from Chinese food, it was fresh and vibrant – think lemongrass, fresh chills, peanuts etc.

Pork and Chinese Leaf dumplings

Pork and Chinese Leaf dumplings

In terms of atmosphere, Mama Lan has nailed a chilled ambience. The service is swift but not brisk – we ourselves were in a rush but we got the impression they’d happily let you stay there and munch on dumplings for hours (well, within their opening times, of course). We may just do that one day…

Mama Lan, 8 The Pavement, SW4 0HY and Unit 18, Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PR.