I first dined in The Dairy in the summer of 2015 and I wasn’t disappointed – this time I’m with my siblings celebrating my little sis’s birthday during a dry spring evening in April. (My original review can be seen here). The format has remained constant with their small plate dining driven by British seasonality in a bistro setting, this is a good thing obviously. What’s changed though in it’s entirety is the menu, the dishes are totally different, which keeps things fresh and of course are ingredient-led as always. Our server named ‘Shula’ was a remarkable young lady, she was friendly, passionate about the ingredients (she knew everything!) and she just had a good energy about her.
I perched by the bar until the clan arrive, being treated to a White Lady which was nice, although a tad too sweet for my usual palate.
Brixton Brewery Effra Ale (£5) – hoppy and full of flavour.
Amuse bouche of fresh spinach, citrus and nuts.
We couldn’t resist trying all the craft brews on the menu (all £5 per bottle). It was hard to pick a favourite as all were delicious and zesty.
The Dairy’s cured meats (£8.5). Pork based in belly, ham and droewors – mouth watering mystery meat parts . There’s nothing more you can ask for here if you love charcuterie.
Truffled brie de Meaux, fig and walnut toast, rooftop honey (£9.5). Intensely satisfying to eat and I wish there was a button to press to do it all over again, we ordered two. My only grumble is that there wasn’t enough truffle, the truffle grater was obviously told to tighten the truffle strings since the last time I visited.
Game taco, crispy shallots, wild garlic sriracha (£7). Cabbage leaves cooked in whey filled with diced pigeon leg, duck heart and venison which is reminiscent of intensely flavourful beef rump I’ve had before somewhere.
Pâté en Croûte, The Dairy’s piccalli (£7.5). Baked flaky pastry encasing flavourful chilled spiced and herbed pork protein gelée. The piccalli giving the tangy lift. Spread it on that crusty freshly baked sour dough, it will melt into it and makes my mouth water just writing about it.
Now this steaming hot bread is undefinably good, the baker is a true maestro – as you break into the flavourful crust a puff of steam is released, add that fluffy butter immediately for instant carb gratification.
Nuka beetroot tartare, smoked yolk, nasturtium capers (£7.50). Nuka is a fermentation process originated from Japan whereby rice bran is roasted, then combined with salt, kombu seaweed, and water. Vegetables are then left to ferment on top of the mixture until fermentation culture kicks-in. The results gave the beetroot that extra dimension – more earthiness and aroma. It’s my first time trying this and the same for the nasturtium capers which are the flower buds from nasturtium flowers. Some trivia there I’ve benefitted from folks, I hope it’s useful for you too! Seriously though the dish was excellent, break the yolk into that tartare and I would recommend spreading it onto that sour dough.
Diver scallops, Wye Valley asparagus, leek miso (£15). Gorgeous and sweet sashimi scallops, the same can be said about the asparagus, the dish came and went within a minute of arriving!
‘Willy’s mackerel, cucumber, fermented sorrel (£9.5). Slithers of charred oily mackerel lifted by the acidic sorrel.
Bone marrow agnolotti, wild garlic, St George mushrooms (£9.5). Perfect al dente agnolotti implodes bone marrow flavour when you bite into it, totally delicious and a maestro of a dish. I’d say it was my favourite.
Hampshire fallow deer, rhubarb, tardivo, hazelnut (£11). Tardivo the king of radicchio, bitter & crunchy working well with the the juicy flavourful venison. Rhubarb out of view underneath but gave acidic balance.
‘Lady Hamilton’ cod, salt baked potato, monks beard, smoked roe (£10.50). Monks beard, bitter sweet from Tuscany, cod with a nice golden colour too. Not a bad dish but a little over-shadowed against the rest.
Daphne’s Welsh lamb, çalcot onions, shepherds pie for 2 (£26). Super juicy, intensely flavoured lamb, albeit on the tougher side and a deconstructed shepherds pie. The chef was kind enough to split the dish into 2 for us as there are 4 siblings in tow, here is the half I tucked into.
Ivy house milk tart, rye, apple (£6.5). You’d need double the portion to be satisfied, it was pleasant enough though and subtle in flavour.
Salted caramel, cacao, malted barley ice cream (£6.5). This little desert was a total tongue caress, my favourite.
Gariguette strawberries, yogurt sorbet, rooftop honey, toast (£6.5). Sweet strawbs from France enhanced by the honey, an overall balanced bite with the yogurt and crostini.
On the house – beautiful beignets, piping hot and with orange citrus sugar. Totally alluring doughnuts!
The damage: Expect to pay £50-£75 per head with wine and cocktails
The good: The cooking gods land again with another exquisite meal and dare I say it better than the first visit. The cooking here is exceptional and I love the ever-changing ingredient led menu. Our front of house ‘Shula’ deserves a mention for her expert knowledge on the dishes and on-point service.
The bad: The White Lady was a tad on the sweet side and the truffled brie de meaux would require ‘truffle’ taken out of the title unless more is added! These are minor quibbles.
15 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, SW4 0H1
0207 622 4165