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.


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.

The Hamlet, Streatham High Road

A one minute walk from Streatham Hill station, we learnt a few facts upon entering The Hamlet; Streatham means the hamlet on the street, or ‘street ham’, hence the namesake of the town and bar. We visited over the Jubilee weekend and it was deserted. Yes, we chose bar dwelling over standing on Southbank in the drizzle to greet our Queen.

We stayed for lunch. A few thoughts on our experience:

*The service was wonderful. We were greeted by the owner, Elsa, who recognised us as new to the area (was it that obvious?). She asked our names and remembered them throughout our visit. Service may well be different when the place is packed to the rafters but we felt welcome and appreciated.

*The decor is quaint. Printed wallpaper on the ceiling, antique lampshades, squashy leather sofas. A very cosy setting for a leisurely drink – we felt right at home.











*The drink selection is very spirits-based. If you like your cocktails you’re in for a treat. Ditto wine. The prices are competitive, but of course you can always take advantage of happy hour. Our daytime visit meant we stuck to draft beer, of which the range was limited. But it’s a bar, and the drinks selection reflects that.

*We ordered roast beef, plus sausages and mash. The roast came with courgettes as a side veg – a very odd addition (we’re a big carrot/pea/parsnip with our roast, though). The meat was thinly sliced and the meal was ‘ok’, but like beer, certainly not their strength. The sausages were plump and tasty (gristle-free) but the mash was a little salty. For the price we paid (around £10 per meal) it was a little disappointing. We haven’t tried their dinner menu, so we can’t comment on that – it could arguably be a lot tastier.











We won’t be put off, though. We can tell The Hamlet has its strengths – it prides itself on its DJ and other social entertainment, so we’ll be back soon for a stiff cocktail and a mixed sharing platter to feast over.

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.