Escaping the Cold and Longing for Summer at 32 The Old Town:
Ever since the dream of buying my first flat became a reality, I’ve wanted to live in Clapham Old Town. When I first looked, the only thing I could have afforded in this part of town was a run-down-close-to-shoebox-size studio over a shop. Instead, I ended up spending 10 happy years living half a mile or so away on Abbeville Road. Of course, having just gone through a house move I’ve been looking again – it is chance rather than design that I’ve ended up here in Kennington rather than a little further South. Clapham Old Town is still a charming part of London, with pretty Georgian and early Victorian houses. It’s popular with younger well-heeled singles and couples, a place with plenty of flat shares and good access both into the City and the West End. The bar and restaurant scene reflects the demographic with one or two really special places and a wealth of good to excellent watering holes including Del Aziz and Zumbura.
32 The Old Town has a few secret weapons though to help it stand out from the crowd. In the middle of winter, the stunning roof terrace was closed. And, even if I could have gone up there, it would have been too dark to take pictures, so I’ve been sent a few from the Restaurant to give an idea of what it is like in summer. What a great place to spend a summer’s evening.
The Hedonist was late, so I got a chance to people watch. It was clear this is a very popular place to meet. There’s an open kitchen and bar area where you could happily just grab supper on the way home in addition to tables with comfy dining chairs seating anything from a cosy couple up to groups of 6 or 8 diners. It was freezing cold outside but 32 Old Town had a warm buzz about it.
We ordered starters and mains from the menu along with a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet, fresh, crisp and rather floral.
The crispy peppered squid was indeed very crispy, though personally, I prefer a lighter tempura-style batter. For my palate, it was light on pepper too, but that is personal taste and may have been because the pepper appeared to have been added at the end so while some pieces were well seasoned, others missed out. Very nicely presented, it came with a little bowl of lime mayonnaise and a char-grilled half lime.
Fishcakes were neat with a well-proportioned fish and mash filling and a nice crunchy coating. Served with a mild horseradish tartare, these were very moreish.
One of the challenges about dining with The-Hedonist is that since he doesn’t eat meat, my carnivorous cravings can often be paired with white wine. But even I couldn’t bear the idea of venison with the Picpoul so I ordered a glass of house red to accompany my venison pie.
I loved the styling of my venison with a traditional blackbird pie vent to ensure the crispiest of pastry topping and served in an old-fashioned pie dish. With a generous helping of buttery mash and cabbage, this was a plate of pure comfort that would have satisfied the appetite of even the greediest rugby player after a hard training session. The end result was absolutely no space for pudding.
Meanwhile, The-Hedonist had ordered a plate of cod with fennel and mussels. This sounded rather better in theory than it looked when served and I know he found it a little salty. Nevertheless, he left a clean plate.
I must admit to a bit of food envy when I saw the sharing platters being ordered by the table next to us. It was very cold, my excuse for ordering such hearty fare, but I suspect this place excels at the kind of food which suits meeting with friends; sharing platters so that no-one goes hungry while waiting for others and small plates to fill the gaps. There was also an excellent looking cocktail list, which we didn’t try at all. Add all that to a well-balanced wine and beer list and you have the kind of place that everyone would love to have on their doorstep. Particularly with that stunning roof terrace.
32 Old Town,
020 3535 0910