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. 

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.