After the custard doughnuts yesterday from St. Johns Bakery, I was treated to a 7 course tasting menu lunch at The Dairy in Clapham. The cuisine of this restaurant was British/English and all the dishes were created from seasonal ingredients. I will apologize now in advance for the fact that I can’t remember what all the components of each dish were – I’ve done my best to try and remember everything that I could though. Below is a picture of the general menu at The Dairy for September.
After we were shown to our table, we were each given a tomato gazpacho ‘shot’ with an olive mousse in the center. I wasn’t able to down it in one, but I did it in two mouthfuls. It was refreshing and tasty, especially the olive mousse, but I found the whole mousse concept a bit confusing since it tasted like olives but it was just air really, so my brain wasn’t really sure about it.
The meal kicked off with some olives for starters which were MAHOOSIVE. The one thing I love about this restaurant is that the sharing dishes all had the right number of pieces of food on them so that we all got an equal number of pieces. So we all got 4 olives each in this case.
This was followed by our first dish which were crackers that had bits of crab meat and sweetcorn in the centre, topped off with fresh herbs from the garden. The crackers had a curry flavour to them and the sauce underneath the crackers that kept them on the plate was also curry-like. Very tasty!
The second dish was probably my favourite out of all of them. Freshly baked sourdough bread that came in its own little bag warmer, ham hock terrine, salami, a green sauce, and marrow infused butter. This butter was simply divine! Thinking about it slathered all over the warm bread is making me hungry again and I’d quite happily come back to this restaurant just to have the bread and butter!
I’ll be honest, the bread which was quartered was not enough for us, and since it was so tasty we asked for another loaf….
The next dish was a green dish consisting of fresh garden peas, a pea sauce, a bit of mint granita on the side, a sliver of mint jelly and some crunchy bits. The peas were extremely crunchy and you could tell they were rather raw but in a good way.
The fourth dish was my second favourite dish – Monk Fish! I’ve never had monk fish before and it was exquisite. The fish was surrounded by cauliflower puree, cooked bits of cauliflower and cauliflower shavings “thrown in for good measure” as quoted by one of the waiters. Would you believe it but the brown triangle piece of meat was the monk fish LIVER! I have to admit, I really liked it as it wasn’t very livery but a bit fishy (I like stinky fish, don’t need lemon slices to hide the smell!)
The fifth dish was another fish dish but this time it was cod. This was a more floral tasting dish compared to the previous one as it was loaded with herbs and vegetables (see the flower) with blobs of mayonnaise dotted around and finally topped off with some fried breadcrumbs.
The sixth dish was something I’ve never had before – Grouse! Two of the pieces were pan-seared and were extremely red and raw inside but very much edible. The third piece was a confit leg of grouse which really took me by surprise as it tasted completely different to the other pieces of meat. The grouse had a seedy coating and beans, berries and hazelnuts bulked out the rest of the dish.
This was the end of the savoury dishes so next up was a pre-dessert dish. I didn’t even know you could have a dessert as a pre-dessert but I was told it’s more of a palette cleanser. This was so yummy that it could have well been dessert! It was almost like a deconstructed apple crumble; oaty crumble, dehydrated(?) apple slivers, smoked toffee apple butter, apple granita and hay ice cream. Yes, HAY ice cream. We were told that they set hay on fire and went it starts smoking they pour milk all over it and, hey presto, you get hay ice cream! Well something along those lines anyway…
Finally it was time for the main dessert which came in the form of an Eton mess. It had two types of meringue – a warm soft runny version that sat beneath some ice cream and hard crunchy version which was scattered all over the dish. As well as fresh blackberries, there were also raspberries that came in 3 different forms – frozen, freeze-dried and fresh. All of this was topped with some cracked black pepper.
By this time we were all full and it was time for some tea to wash it all down. The waitress brought over some petit fours for us to sample, ie. round 3 of dessert! In this cute little box there were some chunks of apple jelly, Sable(?) biscuits and Hibiscus doughnuts. Boy, these little gems were delightful! Whoever came up with hibiscus doughnuts is a genius!
After scoffing these down, you’d think we’d be getting ready to leave. But this wasn’t the case. Earlier on, a couple sitting next to us were having their dessert and they had some chocolate dish which looked heavenly. When our dessert (the Eton Mess thing) came we were all a tad disappointed as we were all hoping that the chocolate dish was on the tasting menu. Unfortunately it wasn’t, but this didn’t stop us ordering it after we had finished the petit fours! So here it is; Salted caramel, chocolate, and malted barley ice cream. A very rich and dark delight.
It was nearly 4pm when the bill was settled and we had been in the restaurant for about 3 hrs by this point. I can honestly say that the food at The Dairy was delicious and I would be happy to come back here again. My mouth and mind were opened to new flavours and concepts, and I left feeling satisfied.
I’d like to thank my uncle, my aunt and her boyfriend for treating me to this extravagant lunch – a wonderful farewell present – and I’m so lucky and grateful to have loving family who want to take me out to such tasty places! THANK YOU!
15 The Pavement
Clapham Old Town
London SW4 0HY
- Restaurant: The Dairy, London SW4 (theguardian.com)