Now that the summer is on the horizon and the days are longer, life seems to be for living again. So, a trip to south London for a north London girl sounded like an exciting opportunity, rather than a daunting task. On the Southside of Clapham Common (whose size never ceases to amaze me) stands The Rookery: a relaxed spot, exuding a kind of New York style (exposed brick, hanging cables and lightbulbs, dim lighting… you know the formula), that could be the injection of independent cool that Claphamites are looking for.
We started with delicious, seasonal cocktails of Rubarb and ginger prosecco cocktail, a harmonious balance of spice and tang and our helpful waiter advised on his favourites. We sampled the coronation chicken, rare beef salad and pea and mint arancini. The starters are reasonably priced at between £5-£7, and their size makes them almost suitable as a main. The rare beef salad is fresh and echoes the start of spring with its shaved raw asparagus. But it misses a kick of flavour to lift it further. The retro serving of Coronation Chicken was huge, large pieces of chicken in delicious homemade curry spiced mayonnaise; we devoured it whole-heartedly. The arancini wouldn’t fool an Italian but the mini size was fun for sharing.
Our mains were a Pork belly with BBQ sauce and macaroni cheese with wild garlic and Jerusalem artichokes. Both again are large dishes and slightly overwhelming. The pork belly is well-cooked, and the fat crunchy and rich. It is drenched in BBQ sauce, which isn’t for all tastes, but comes with sweet potato fries and homemade slaw. The mains range from £13.50 – £23.50, which sounds steep but the size won’t leave you feeling short-changed. The wild garlic, which is always a pleasure to spy on a menu, lifted the macaroni cheese to the next level.
My only gripe with the experience was the slow service. The restaurant was surprisingly busy for a weekday and this seems to have taken the staff by surprise too. I was left wondering if they had enough manpower to support the obvious demand from the hungry locals. We finished on a plate of chocolate desserts, which was a great sharing option. And, considering the size of the portions, that’s all you will be able to squeeze in! The menu is eclectic and includes French, Mediterranean, Modern British and a bit of New York eatery. The dishes change by season, which should keep their regulars interested too. There is also a large seating area out front, which will no doubt be a hit when that summer does finally arrive. (Words: Laura Thornley)
For more info, visit: www.therookeryclapham.co.uk