By Maggie Majstrova
Making use of the long weekend, we decided a night out was in order on Saturday – enter, No 32 The Old Town. A stylish neighbourhood restaurant and bar in Clapham, it wouldn’t be our usual haunt, but having received several recommendations, who am I to argue?
The venue’s look is rustic, but swanky – something that fits right in the neighbourhood, but with an obvious attempt to stand out too. Mission, accomplished.
So, in keeping with the look and feel of the place, we started ourselves with two pints of Pilsner Urquell (£4.95 each), a Tequila Old Fashioned (£9.50) and a glass of Prosecco. So far, so good – the Tequila is a nice twist on the Old Fashioned and who says no to beer or Prosecco?
For starters, we went for variety: Crispy Peppered Squid (£7.95), Sticky Beef Soft Tacos (£7.50) and a Charcuterie Board (£12.95) with two loaves of Cob Loaf and Butter.
On our side of the table (squid and tacos – surprise surprise!) we were happy as can be – the squid was perfectly cooked and the tacos melt in the mouth. Though admittedly, we could have done with an extra taco between the two of us, but then – we did have a full loaf of bread to tie us over! And the bread and butter was wonderful, soft homemade bread with butter which is perfectly salted.
On the other side of the table, the sharing board seemed to go down a treat too – judging by the speed at which it was all devoured!
To go with our mains – an even split of Beer Braised Brisket with Sweet Potato Mash (£18) and The No 32 House Burger with cheese (£10.95) and fries (£3.50) – most of us continued on beer, but I opted for a glass of rose.
Now, food-wise this was a great decision. The brisket is definitely up there with my favourites, it was just the right firmness and unlike some other briskets I’ve had recently (is it just me, or is this a firm favourite.. everywhere .. these days?) it at no point got at all sickly. The sweet potato mash was perfect and the gravy with mushrooms made my night. I could have had a pot of that on the side all on its own.
My rose wine on the other hand – absolute fail. Seeing as I was the only one drinking wine, it didn’t make sense to get a bottle, so I was stuck with the one rose wine that was served by the glass. Quite frankly, I would have been better off with water.
On the other hand, I was majorly impressed with how quickly we got our drinks. With the bar, which is right in the middle of the room, clearly extremely busy, the staff manage to prioritise drinks for their dinner guests and so we never had to wait longer that about 5 minutes for our drinks. That, I think, is an achievement in itself.
So, seeing as we were clearly on a roll with good food choices, we just HAD to go for dessert. My fiancé and I shared a Maple Banana Toffee Crumble (£6.50), while our friends decided on the Bitter Chocolate Tart with chocolate mouse and rice krispies (£6.75) and a Raspberry Posset (£6.50).
I have to tell you – I’m not usually a great fan of crumble. But the whole thing was an absolute delight – think banoffee pie, with a bit more crunch. I’d have this delivered, if I could. The tart was super rich, a little bit like a posh chocolate rice krispie treat and how could you go wrong with that? The addition of raspberry to the classic posset made for a wonderful summery treat. So all in all, I think it’s safe to say everyone was more than happy with the food.
In addition to the wine, I have two bones to pick with our evening. Firstly, the music was way too loud for 7pm on a Saturday in an establishment where although crowds are gathering at the bar, there are still a fair number of patrons trying to enjoy dinner. Now, don’t think that I’m any sort of prude – I like loud music in a bar as much as the next person, but I also like to be able to hear my dinner companions.
Finally, although I genuinely think the food was some of the best I’ve had in a long time, in my opinion the pricing was just a tiny bit over the top for the type of place I think I was in. Only about £3 on each dish, mind – but, it did occur to me on the night, which for me proves it was something to think about.
Don’t get me wrong though, good food is worth paying for and I can honestly say the food we had, was great – and so, I have to agree with the recommendations I received to visit No 32 The Old Town and extend my own. If you haven’t been, you must go! Go on… Go!