Where to Eat
Nestled just southwest of the center of the city, the young, beautiful, and upwardly mobile population of London has been moving into Clapham. It is a community that likes to work hard, play hard, relax hard, and eat well. Luckily, it has everything needed to make that possible. Clapham has a laid-back sophisticated vibe during the day, and at night it transforms into a party town for the locals who don’t fancy battling the crowds and the central London prices for a fun night out.
It is a little-known fact that since the area of Greater London is nearly one-fifth green space, with lots of trees, it can officially be designated as a forest. One sizable patch of green is Clapham Common, which occupies 220 acres of green space, with three ponds and a Victorian bandstand. Shun the busier parks in central London and head out here.
If the weather permits, drop into one of the cafés on the common’s North West Perimeter, where you can shop for a delicious snack or meal to be enjoyed while lying around people watching. Our favorite place to pick up a picnic is Tart (25 The Pavement, London SW4 0JA, tartlondon.com).
Today, central London is home to 63 Michelin-starred restaurants. After years of working in Michelin-starred restaurants, Loretta Liu decided to open her own café and cookery school in Clapham. At On Café (31 Clapham Park Rd, London SW4 7EE, oncafe.london), the counters heave with an array of delicate, exquisitely decorated French gateaux, choux buns, macaroons, and more, in a range of intriguing, delicious flavors. The menu also offers a range of delicious homemade dim sum dishes perfect for sharing, including the lightest Chinese Steam Bao this side of Shanghai.
If you can’t face the idea of not being able to enjoy Loretta’s treats after you go home and the idea of moving across the pond isn’t practical, Liu teaches classes so you can learn how to make her delicious food. “I like to teach the students to break down the elements of each ingredient and teach them how all the basic molecules come together. Students leave learning not just how to cook, they leave looking at each food differently. That is the pleasure I get from teaching”.
How does spending the evening with a bottle of wine in a public restroom sound? Jayke Mangion and his business partner beat over 400 other applicants to take over a former public restroom outside Clapham Common Tube station that they turned into a popular wine bar named WC Clapham (Clapham Common South Side, London SW4 7AA, UK, wcclapham.co.uk).
The food menu is a simple offering with a limited selection of small plates and cheese and charcuterie options complemented by a larger selection of wines, which Jayke says was deliberate. “Not making it too complicated was key, focusing on one thing means we can do it well.”
Neither the food or the wine disappoint, with both packing a flavorful punch without being too heavy. Sadly, this being an indoor underground venue, smoking is a strict no-no, but there is terrace upstairs if the weather is fine.
Named after a 1930s fictional character created by Sax Rohmer, Fu Manchu (15 – 16 Lendal Terrace, London, SW4 7UX, fumanchu.co.uk) is a Chinese-themed eatery and nightclub serving up authentic homemade dim sum alongside unique cocktails. Once inside you are rewarded with cool drinks and hot vibes in an atmosphere reminiscent of an opium den in 19th-century Ancient China. With a friendly crowd and dancing that goes on until late, it’s good that Fu Manchu is just a short walk to the nearest tube with 24-hour service on the weekends.
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