Address: 15 The Pavement, London, SW4 0HY
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7622 4165
I very rarely ever leave Zone 1 of London, so when I make my way to Clapham for lunch, it must be a restaurant that is worth the trip. Confidently recommended by Charmaine who is the current editor of Tatler Dining in Hong Kong, this restaurant has very high expectations to meet!
The Dairy is opened by owner/chef Robin Gill, who, together with his wife, used to work at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. It is a bistro that offers a menu of contemporary British dishes made from the best seasonable ingredients as well as the restaurant’s home-grown produce from their garden.
Recycled furniture, wooden tables and exposed brick walls create an inviting, approachable decor. The menu is compact but not limited, and L and I each order a £25 4-course lunch to share. The service, when we go for a weekday late lunch, is amicable, well-informed and friendly.
The homemade sourdough, which is presented on a piece of hot stone to keep warm, is impressively fluffy and is served with a delicious smoked butter.
The amuse-bouche is a butternut squash with blue cheese, which is mellow and delightful.
(1) The first dish to arrive is the truffled brie on fig & walnut toast with honey. We applaud the enticingly soft and creamy half-melted brie, and a hint of honey sweetness and taste of truffle complete the dish.
(2) The Cornish crab with Brussel tops, fresh chestnut and apple follows. The crab meat is deliciously fresh and the taste of Brussel sprouts is distinctive yet surprisingly complementary.
(3) Next is the soft Burford Brown egg with wild mushrooms. The egg is perfectly cooked so that the yolk is still runny, and the mushrooms are juicy and retain a good bite. A refreshing tartness permeates the dish.
(4) The hay smoked curd with Jerusalem artichokes, roasted onions and chanterelles offer a symphony of interesting flavours. My only complaint is that there seems to be no focus in this dish.
(5) The wood pigeon with celeriac and spiced bitter leaves is incredibly tender, and a mixture of nuts and seeds perfectly complement the meaty flavours.
(6) The smoked cod with charred leeks, sorrel and fried bread is barely cooked and wonderfully tender, and the accompanying ingredients offer vibrant, well-matched flavours.
(7) The salted caramel, cacao and malted barley ice cream is one exciting dish. The cacao is rich and tasty, the malted barley ice cream tastes exactly what it sounds like and some crunchy textures bring all the elements together.
(8) The baked spiced squash cake with yoghourt sorbet completely blows us away. The pleasantly spiced squash cake, the foamy, flavourful squash cream and the yoghurt sorbet together take deliciousness to a new height.
After a great feast of innovative dishes, the petit fours arrive in a rustic tin box. These look very pretty, but the brownies are a tad dry.
The Dairy looks every bit like a neighbourhood restaurant at first, but their cuisine turns out to be anything but down-to-earth – each dish is meticulously crafted and carries a level of finesse that would rival any Michelin-starred restaurant in town. With such sophisticated and delectable offerings, this gem surely has a welcome place in London’s competitive dining industry!