From Mexican food at Comensal on Abbeville Road to Chinese cuisine at Mama Lans in Clapham Old Town and cronuts on Clapham Common South Side, here’s food expert Sudi Pigott’s round up of the tastiest foodie news from South West London this September
COMENSAL, ABBEVILLE ROAD, CLAPHAM
Lime green and pink are my favourite colour combination so any restaurant using these will have me smiling when I walk in. Though I am liable to get disgruntled if I’m left standing for ages. Admittedly, I visited Comensal in its first month, but there were definitely a few slightly farcical issues with some inexperienced waiting staff. No, giving the thumbs-up sign is not cool, especially when the order is wrong. I have to admit that Mexican cuisine isn’t my favourite by a long way nor a culture I’m especially familiar with, so more knowledgeable staff would have helped. I did like how guacamole was served in a huge, heavy basalt molcajete dish though would have liked it to have more coriander and jalapeno oomph. Likewise a ceviche lacked sparkle.
Among the street style sharing dishes, by far the best were mushroom quesadillas with perky fresh Mexican cheese. I liked too the homely way warm tortilla came in an embroidered fabric cover. A Mexican torte dessert made with corn didn’t sound appealing yet was deeply delicious, rather like a denser polenta cake and served with a raspberry and orange sauce. It turned out to be made freshly by a local Mexican friend of the owner. Pisco sours were exceptional too.
32 Abbeville Road, SW4; 0208 673 7272
MAMA LAN, THE PAVEMENT, CLAPHAM OLD TOWN
A huge dish of steaming noodles was spot-on after watching “Chef”- the movie – highly recommended if it is still showing at Clapham Picture House – even though the dude food that turns around the fortunes of its hero didn’t appeal to me. Somehow I’d never got to Mama Lan’s Brixton Village tiny outlet that started out as a pop-up run by owner Ming Ma and her mother based on her grand-dad’s recipes from the food stall the family had once run in Beijing making the jiaozi dumplings in their front room. The iconic dumplings are stuffed to bursting, luscious and golden with an intriguing and moreish savouriness. I was particularly taken by wood-ear mushroom, spinach and vermicelli, though the king prawn and chestnut were wonderful too,especially with a gentle dipping in soy, vinegar and chilli. A winning combination especially for post or pre-film inexpensive dining. No reservations & cash only presently.
THE BLACK LAB, CLAPHAM COMMON SOUTHSIDE, CLAPHAM
Coffee geeks rave about AeroPress made coffee – now it’s possible to judge if the taste is a better, fuller experience at The Black Lab. It is also the first place I’ve come across locally selling cronuts – a cross between a doughnut and croissant that does nothing for me – but is a huge New York emanating craze.
18 Clapham Common Southside SW4 7NS 0207 738 8441
Starting out with a vintage airstream trailer doing the music festivals convinced the Soulful team that there was an all year round market for their simple, handmade, “square meal in a round pot” dishes that are impressively sourced with best ethical practices at heart. I was taken by their sheer tastiness and recipes that really did entice with their healthiness and creativity. Favourites I tried included free range thai green chicken curry with kelp noodles, British pulled beef with spelt barley and butternut, lentil and spinach pot.