Clapham has never been a very appealing place to me: hectic main station, chain stores filling the streets and predominantly occupied by young professionals who continue to live and act like students. Recently though one of my best friends has moved to the neighbourhood forcing me to reconsider what Clapham has to offer. Consequently I have discovered The Dairy, a brilliant independent eatery serving innovative food that looks and tastes delicious.
A few months ago, when I took to Twitter to ask for Clapham restaurant recommendations, the Dairy was the unanimous favourite. The small characterful restaurant is found near Clapham Common station and certainly stands out, with its trendy distressed look and retro rustic décor – it is very countryside chic.
The utmost care is taken to use locally sourced ingredients. The September menu features an assortment of inventive and interesting flavours with a particular focus on seasonal produce. The chef, Robin Gill and his team collect many of the fresh components from the roof where an allotment has been planted!
The dishes are of the ‘small plate’ variety, reasonably priced, until the waiter tells you that you’ll need at least four each. Here’s what we shared between the three of us, carefully selecting from the themed sections on the menu.
Sariette de Banon, courgettes, rooftop honey, basil £6
Truffled Brie de Meaux on fig & walnut toast, rooftop honey £8.5
Galician octopus, fresh coco beans, chorizo £6.5
Butternut squash, rooftop rocket, buttermilk £7.5
Yorkshire venison, celeriac, game sausage, blackberries £10
Suckling pig belly, cobnuts, heritage carrots, cavolo nero £10
Salted caramel, cacao, malted barley ice cream £6.5
36 month aged Comte, grapes, maple & thyme cracker £7.5
There was a delicious sounding Gin Sour available but we opted for a bottle of house wine. Each dish is immaculately composed with clever contrasting flavours and textures. Highlights for me were the Truffled cheese on toast, a creamy, nutty and sweet delight; the rich and succulent pig belly with startlingly black cavolo nero and bright orange heritage carrots. Octopus and chorizo was a lighter dish for seafood fans and Butternut squash was a delicately seasoned vegetarian option.
For dessert the Dairy keeps things simple with a decadent chocolate caramel recipe paired with ice-cream, it was one of the best puddings I have ever tasted. Greedy rascals that we are, we couldn’t resist the cheese plate which completed the meal perfectly.
Those who want to experience the Dairy’s creative flair should order the bespoke seven course tasting menu carefully selected by the kitchen and priced at £45 per person. A diamond in the rough, the Dairy makes me want to visit Clapham again and again.
More information and book a table here.