London, you never fail to surprise me with just how much goes on and the discoveries you can make in the most unlikeliest of places. Jimmy Garcia and his team (founder of Jimmy’s Popup) have been responsible for transforming spaces throughout Europe to create unique dining experiences, private parties and weddings. Myself and Sam got an opportunity to sample one of these experiences recently at The Lodge Clapham, a rustic and intimate setting, tucked away above the Clapham North Pub, London.
After a wonderful afternoon spent with friends, drinking and generally enjoying each other’s company, we made our way towards Clapham North. I’ve not actually spent a considerable time around this area but upon brief inspection, there seems to be quite a bit of life around. We were pretty hesitant when we started walking up the stairs in fear that we were actually in the wrong part of the building despite it saying The Lodge next to the staircase. Our anticipation wavered even more when we saw that the main entrance was a fire escape (hey, don’t expect normality when you come to London!).
Soon enough though, we heard the hustle and bustle of chatter as we walked into a very intimate setting. Tables huddled together in which sat a mixture of people from all walks of life. The lingering smell of food wafted in from behind us as the kitchen hatch revealed a flurry of chefs all working vigorously to get orders out to food-hungry guests. Jasmine, our waitress for the evening, brought us swiftly to our table which was placed one away from the window. As Sam went to the rest room, I took in my new surroundings. It felt as though I was in a lodge for sure, somewhere in the alps after a day of skiing (that’s if I actually knew how to ski – I have never been to a skiing resort in my life).
A warm and winter worthy atmosphere, I was one happy bean! Jasmine knew her stuff and told us we’ll be sampling the Chef’s choice (£33pp), which for anyone unsure of what to order, is the perfect alternative. We were given a selection of dishes, one snack, four small plates and the piece de resistance, the West Country fondue. OHMYDAYS it was so good.
Before our food arrived we ordered an Earl Grey Martini to share because why not on Saturday night?! At first we were a bit unsure of the size as it wasn’t as big as we thought, however we got four cups out of it which we figured must have been the equivalent of four cocktails.
|Earl Grey Martini (To share – £20.00)|
‘Ok Natalie, you had some hipster cocktail, get on with the food!‘ Oh we’re going there my friends.
Most restaurants would call these appetisers and consisted of Olives, Smoked Almonds and Croquettes. We had the Whipped Smoked Cod’s Roe On Toast. Yep, you heard me.
|Whipped Cod’s Roe On Toast (£3)|
I mean, can you get any better than this? Cod’s Roe is fish eggs – something I didn’t know at the time – and it tasted heavenly. It was very rich in flavour but didn’t have an overpowering fishy taste. It’s a perfect canapé size and went down in just two bites. Squeezing a bit of lemon on, gave the fish eggs a fresh lease of life and this really complimented well with the crunch of the toast – look at me being all fancy with my food descriptions. Get me on the Bake Off already!
Next up, was the Small Plates. This menu had a sort of tapas feel to it and there was more than enough when it came to the selection the small plates offered. Obviously as it was the chef’s choice, we got four gorgeous dishes. These were Gin Cured Salmon with a Horseradish yogurt. Beetroot, Orange and Hazelnut Salad. Crispy Pork Belly in an Asian Pickle. And finally, Grilled Mackerel with Fennel and Blood Orange. Doesn’t that just get those taste buds of yours salivating?!
|Gin Cured Salmon with Horseradish Yoghurt (£8)|
You can definitely taste quality and unfortunately my Lidl salmons will never again match up to the GIN Cured Salmon we had. The salmon was chunky and fresh and having never really been a fan of horseradish, this yogurt was delicious.
|Beetroot, Orange and Hazelnut Salad (£7)|
The Beetroot, Orange and Hazelnut Salad was probably Sam’s favourite as it was quickly wolfed down. The crunch of the roasted hazelnuts, along with the sweetness of the orange and beetroot was sensational.
|Crispy Pork Belly in Asian Pickles (£8)|
This one was definitely my favourite, probably because it was the naughtiest of them all, but when you’re having a cheese fondue, does it really matter? This pork belly was gorgeous and had just the right ratio of the pork belly and the crispy crackling on top. The pickled bedding also complimented it and give the pork belly a bit of a kick in the spice department.
|Grilled Mackerel, Fennel and Blood Orange (£8)|
And finally, to end our small plates section, the grilled mackerel. A beautiful piece of fish, resting on a bed of fennel and blood orange (they certainly like their orange!). There was just the right combination of sweet and salty. The sea salt and blood orange worked very well together and the mackerel melted in the mouth. YUM!
And finally, the moment we were waiting for (at this point we were actually on our way to being seriously full), the West Country Cheese Fondue. Now I love fondues, be it chocolate, cheese or steak – steak is incredible – so I wasn’t prepared to give into the food wall that was clearly imminent.
|West Country Fondue (£18pp)|
The fondue came with bread, new potatoes and side salad. To be honest, with a fondue, I wouldn’t have had the salad as there’s really not a need for it, unless you cover it in hot cheese and completely kill any of it’s healthiness. I managed to get through the new potatoes and a small amount of bread but it was so filling. The West Country is milder than their other option Cote De Bouef, Bearnaise.
I think the Chef’s choice is by far the best option if you’re after a good hearty meal, otherwise you miss out on all the incredible food on offer. A big thank you to Jasmine who looked after us and treated us so nicely and another thank you goes to Laura who booked us in and to who we had a lovely chat with before leaving.
The pop-up in this location is here till the end of February so if you are visiting the area, be sure to pop in for a truly unique experience! Bookings can be made here.
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