1-3 Lillieshall Road SW4 0LN Tel: 020 7738 8953, thebobbinclapham.com
Cost per person without wine: £25
IF you live anywhere near Clapham Common, the Bobbin should be your local by virtue of being very good, rather than proximity. I don’t live anywhere near it, but the trip down south to eat there was worth it. Sure, the people-watching on the southern leg of the Northern line is almost an end in itself, but the romantic, candle-lit pub dining room, cosy wooden bar and really quite delicious food clinched the deal.
I say quite delicious food. That makes it sounds like it could be anywhere – these days, London has come so far that you can count on quite delicious food (or at least, very good food) at any number of pubs across the city.
This was a cut above. The menu is small and well-crafted, with the usual suspects (potted this and terrine of that; plenty of “catch-of-the-day” style items), but with enough surprises, too. As for why I visited at all as opposed to any number of other gastropubs: the Bobbin stopped being the Tim Bobbin last summer, and was supposedly relaunched in a new incarnation. Locals claim it hasn’t changed much, which – judging from my experience there – is a good thing.
I kicked off with razor clams with chorizo, thinking they’d be small as they so often are. But instead of being an overly delicate dish, the clams were great long, rubbery, slightly horrible specimens (I recoiled; dyed-in-the-wool clam lovers might not), but doused in a wonderfully aromatic sauce with lovely bits of chorizo floating about. Hearty – not least for being razor clams.
My companion had the soup of the day, which was a perfectly spiced, thick and fibrous pumpkin broth, peppery and warming.
We moved on – via lots of slices of thick bread slathered in good butter – to mains that were also a perfect ten. Well, almost perfect – perhaps my home-made pumpkin ravioli was too rich and a touch gluey. I couldn’t finish it, which is odd for me, and my Italian companion commended it but said it was not quite what his mama would have made. Still, the home-madeness of it came through in a wholesome heft and luxuriant taste. It was a (quite) delicious dish.
Mario’s chicken and leek pie was a joy: bursting with vegetal flavours and thickened with shards of (presumably) once-happy chicken, topped by a good drift of buttery pastry. It was the perfect pub dish (yes, perfect).
We had contemplated omitting dessert entirely, somewhat knocked out by the robust and generous preceding dishes. But in the end we fell for a roast quince with apply ice cream and we were glad we did.
If you’re into good ale and sharply-chosen wines of the Old and New World, you should be able to find a drink experience as rewarding as the food one at the Bobbin. A Clapham jewel.