Thursday, February 21, 2013

At Home in Clapham

It occurred to me the other day that Keenan and I have been living in our current flat longer than any other place in my adult life -- 4 years and 3 months to be exact. Amazing how time flies when you're having fun. The neighborhood has changed quite a bit since we moved to Clapham Old Town -- nearly all the local pubs have transformed into 'posh pubs.' BTW, pubs are really the way of life here. 
Take for example:

The Frog, located right on the Pavement  overlooking Clapham Common, used to be a real old man's boozer with smelly couches and terrible selection of beers. It used to be empty on the weekends. No longer -- every Friday and Saturday, there's a DJ and dancing and packed. 

Tim Bobbin, now just simply known as 'The Bobbin' -- our local on Lilleshall Road where seriously everyone knows your name -- is now a gastropub. Before we used to drop by for a quick pint and I can always count on seeing the usual suspects, including Steve Bent, a well-known photographer covering foreign affairs who passed way in December 2011 from cancer. Keenan had many conversations with Steve about his time covering the Iraq wars, conflict in Afghanistan, and Bosnian war. Truly remarkable and talented individual.

Haile poochie at The Calf
The Sun and its sister pub, the Calf, both had make-over recently. The Sun with its lovely beer garden tends to attract the after-work crowd; a bit lousy but otherwise good place to hang out. The Calf is much more low key as it is somewhat tucked away from the main road. Both has an excellent selection of craft beers on tap, which makes Keenan happy, and are dog-friendly. Miss Haile poochie had many pub nights with her Aunt and Uncle. 

On the foodie front, Venn Street now has a weekly Saturday Food Market selling fresh veggies, pastries, cheese, olive oils, etc. Great place for a quick bite after the gym. Venn Street is also home to several excellent little restaurants - Barsito Tapas, Rapscallion, Gastro, and Kasbah as well as the beloved PictureHouse next to Venn Street Record.  A Little Waitrose opened on the High Street right across from the tube. Small but well-stocked with essential quick meal items, perfect for those late nights at work which is too often lately. The Moroccan-inspired brunch/restaurant place Del Aziz opened a branch in Wingate Square on the Pavement. Of course some things never change -- Moen & Sons is still thriving and more so since the horse-meat scare.  My favourite little cafe Macaron Patisserie is the perfect place to grab a coffee and croissant when you can't get to Paris soon enough. 

In Abbeville Road area on the southside of Clapham Common, there are a number of good restaurants that have opened recently. Among them Bistro Union which earned a Bib Gourmand this year for excellent food at reasonable prices. It has a changing menu and the food certainly did not disappoint. As the sister restaurant of Trinity in Clapham Old Town, Bistro Union is more casual, a great place to meet up with friends on the weekends. Abbeville Kitchen (not to be confused by The Abbeville Pub down the street) has received excellent reviews from food critics. I have yet to try but it's on the list. 

Fish Pie at Bistro Union

Just a 15-20 minute walk from Clapham Old Town is the ever-popular Northcote Road teeming with bars after bars, pubs, restaurants, and baby shops. After all, this area is known as 'Nappie Valley'. It's like a smaller and more relaxed version of Upper Street in Angel. A welcoming new addition to the foodie scene is Franca Manca, my favourite Neapolitan-style pizza place. We been a huge fan of Franca Manca since it opened its first 'hole-in-the-wall' branch in Brixton in 2008. Happy to see it thriving. The Draft House is our favorite pub on Northcote Road. Dog friendly and great selection of craft beers. 

Clapham is a great little neighborhood -- the only thing that would drive you insane is the commute on the Northern Line... don't get me started on that.

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