22 North Street, Clapham Old Town

Local bistro comes out on top

It wasn’t an ideal venue for what was clearly a first date. The restaurant was empty except for the couple’s table and mine. As I sat waiting for my dining partner, it was impossible not to observe the awkward first date conversation that was taking place. Both rushed to speak at the same time and then a pregnant pause would ensue. I said a mental prayer- please let the food be good here.

I went to the restaurant on a very rainy Tuesday when it seemed nothing could redeem the day. I glanced around as I waited for my friend.

Despite the lack of other diners, there was a lovely ambience in the restaurant. There were big candles on every table which made for relaxed, flattering lighting, something the couple no doubt appreciated and the playlist of Lana del Rey and Kodaline was soothing.

There were lots of distinctive touches such as exposed red bricks on the wall and upside down wine glasses being used to make a chandelier-like light.

While I was waiting, I busied myself by studying the food and cocktail menu and immediately I was impressed. The menu was seasonal, changing every month and a two course meal was £15. When I went, there was a focus on Mediterranean food that month. More diners came into the restaurant and things started to look up.

Once my friend had arrived, we got down to the difficult task of choosing our meals. Although the specials were hugely tempting (Scallops, lamb with garlic potatoes and red wine jus etc), we were on a budget so we opted for the £15 two course a la carte menu.

To start, I opted for the chicken liver and port pate, pear chutney and raisin bread. While the pate could have been creamier, it worked very well with the chutney and the raisin bread was an original addition. My dining partner went with the roast goats’ cheese, beetroot tartes tartine and pea crest. The goats’ cheese was just the right amount of gooey.

One small gripe was that I had just taken the last bite of my starter when the waiter came to take the plate away and this happened with my drink and main course as well. There is a fine line between being efficient and rushing someone along.

For the mains, I went for the char-grilled lamb burger, halloumi, tomato and rosemary relish and herb fries. The pull of the herb fries was too strong to consider anything else on the menu. The meat was cooked exactly as I had asked and the relish and halloumi added to the burger, elevating it from just a run-of-the-mill cheese burger.

My dining partner ordered the fried red snapper tacos, beetroot-cabbage slaw and pineapple chilli salsa. The dish worked well, particularly the pineapple chilli which gave the fish a kick. The one issue with this main was that because the fish was fried, it made it difficult to taste the flavour of the snapper.

Once our plates had been all-too swiftly removed from the table, we then sampled some of their cocktails. Although competitively priced (£6.50), they did undo our intentions of just spending £15 each on the meal but it was money well spent.

We left the restaurant feeling a little too hurried along but we will definitely be back for the winning combination of great value, tasty food and cosy atmosphere. I’ve heard good things about their Sunday roasts so I might have to return to sample it, all in the name of research of course.

Address: 22 North Street Clapham, SW4 0HB. Link to Website

22 North Street
22 North Street

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