The Dairy – Review (Clapham)

It’s all happening south of the river for me now, first the Trinity and now discovering The Dairy (sorry I’m a late comer), which opened in March 2013, a stone throw away from Clapham Common Tube. Husband and wife team Robin and Sarah Gill who run The Dairy, are also responsible for The Manor in Clapham which opened in November 2014 and more recently Paradise Garage which was launched just last month. Head chef Robin Gill, a former head chef of Almeida, Noma and Manoir Aux Quat Saisons with the legendary Raymond Blanc, has a simple mission – have an emphasis on seasonality and cooking really good creative food. Herbs and vegetables are grown on their rooftop urban garden and honey is produced by their own bees, I mean how cool is that? The decor is minimal, no white table cloths in sight, comes with a semi open kitchen, a bar and seating for around 40 diners. The wine list features an array of well priced plonk and the food is composed of ‘small plates’ from the ‘garden’, ‘sea’ and ‘land’ as you can see here and a tasting menu is available too:

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Chefs stopping work for a momentary pose!

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My fellow diner and I were served complimentary grilled green beans and sunflower butter – the beans tasted super fresh, sweet and worked well with the coarse butter. A good start indeed.

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The freshly baked bread went down a treat too – as you tear, it releases steam, and an instant crunch chimes through the ears when you bite into the crust. The fluffy butter just made it all the more luscious. I could’ve easily eaten more and more!

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Chicken Liver Mousse, Gooseberry and Apple. £6. The mousse was whipped to a fluffy consistency, silky smooth and the acidic fruit gave its balance. It was perfect for scooping and slathering onto the bread which they do so well here.

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Lady Hamilton’ smoked cod, wild fennel seeds, sorrel £4. Not the most convincing dish for me, totally not what I expected with the yogurt like consistency. I would dodge this one and opt for another dish next time.

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Truffled brie de Meaux, fig and walnut toast, rooftop honey. £9.5.  This was quite possibly the most gorgeous brie dish I’ve ever had. The cheese was nicely melted onto that crunchy toast and the generous mountain of earthy truffles tasted so good with it. If you don’t oder this, you WILL miss out!

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Kentish corn, white polenta, barbecued duck hearts. £8.5. I loved this dish for all its depths of umami and single handedly demolished it. Textually it was pitch perfect with crunchy corn against the really flavourful polenta. This dish along with the brie were my favourite things to eat for the evening.

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Salt baked beetroot, cobnuts, house lardo, damson. £8.5. The white beetroot came sliced thinly and tasted really sweet with no soil notes unlike the earthy purple variety. The cobnuts gave texture and the damson the acidity.

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Applewood smoked eel, charred English radish, soft yolk. £10.5. They clearly had one eye on the balance sheet with this one with only two dinky pieces of eel. What they lacked in size they made up for huge flavour though, it was like salty smoky bacon disguised as eel. Lightly pickled thinly sliced daikon which folded up on themselves featured too, with forest green nasturtium leaves for visual impact more than anything else.

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Chicken oyster, crispy skin, kefir, lettuce. £9. For those who aren’t in the know, kefir is a cultured milk product and it gave the dish a slightly lactic taste which worked really well with all the other elements. The lettuce came with slightly brined notes which was a nice touch.

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73 day aged Devonshire beef, Scottish girolles, caramelised tunworth. £25 (For 2).  This is for the advanced beef eater – the flavour was intense from the ageing and further enhanced by the nutty tunworth cheese. Don’t expect a juicy ribeye like texture but instead a cut that requires more jaw work, but due that the robust beefy flavour, it was all the more rewarding for it.

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The verdict;

The damage: Expect to pay £50-£75 per head with wine and cocktails
The good: The truffled brie de Meaux and Kentish corn dishes were made by the culinary gods and I will sooner rather than later go back for them alone and order extra sour dough bread to dredge until my hearts content. The service was brisk, friendly and on point. The urban rooftop garden is a lovely touch too. If you really would like to know how good British cooking should be then look no further and get booking. I was really surprised at how good value it is too and there’s a real buzz in the atmosphere.
The bad: The Lady Hamilton’ smoked cod wasn’t the greatest and I really wish I came here earlier and I can’t wait to try The Manor and Paradise Garage!
Rating: 4/5
the-dairy.co.uk
15 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, SW4 0H1

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