Lunch on Saturday at the Dairy in Clapham was quite simply one of the most beautiful meals this year. Simple decor, delicate food, pure flavours, no fuss and attentive service from staff who are in control and confident. Everything here is understated and appears casual but with excellent attention to detail, lovely wild flowers, proper ice cubes, heavy stoneware, linen napkins, exquisit food; they know they are good but are not rubbing your nose in it. The skill base and passion in the kitchen is evident in every mouthful, these chefs are quite simply “bloody awesome” and leading the way, chefs all over town will be copying these guys trying to catch up.
We hadn’t booked, sat near the window on lab stools and a lovely table crafted from reclaimed timber. The menu has lots of choice and includes a 4 course set lunch at £25 (Great value) and an evening 7 course tasting menu for £45 that can be served with a flight of wines. Advised by our waitress we picked a selection of dishes; you start with a complimentary canape, ours was Pumpkin and Roquefort……delicious ……this really set the tone for what was to follow…….. outstanding homemade malted sourdough is served warm with whipped butter ( smoked bone marrow I think).
We chose Squid with Grapefruit, Tartare of Hare with Salsify, Beetroot with Goats Curd and Bantam Egg with Wild Mushrooms and charred Celery. The raw hare was just sublime, like nothing I had eaten before, real gamey flavour, soft texture and although the portions are all starter size, very nourishing. The Beetroot and Goats Curd so delicate, every mouthful special, no evidence of any seasoning but perfectly balanced. We finished with a Salted Caramel, Cacoa and Malted Barley Ice-Cream, superb quality dark chocolate, and super light ice-cream. Coffee was also excellent and came some lovely little petit fours served in an old tin. The Dairy has an interesting drinks list, beers from Brixton and Bermondsey, wines by the gass start at £5.50 and the full list has got lots of choice, mainly old world with a strong selection from Italy. We left having shared 5 small dishes but were perfectly sated and very happy, the whole place puts a smile on your face. Our bill was £46, very good value for money…..will be going back very soon!
Robin Gill, the chef, and his wife Sarah should be very proud of what they have created, an exceptional dining experience with fabulous, innovative food, a tangible comfort factor and no nonsense. They are opening a Deli next door in the new Year and a second restaurant, The Manor (with Dean Parker heading up the kitchen) a few streets away very soon. They currently grow quite a lot for the restaurant on their roof garden and also keep bees, producing their own honey.
When to go: Every time you are in Clapham.
What to eat: Tasting menu
15 The Pavement, SW4 0HY
Tel: 020 7622 4165