King Arthur is said to have chosen the legendary Avalon for his retirement (great golf clubs apparently), and now Clapham`s latest gastropub has adopted the island`s mythical name. If it`s rest and recuperation you need after a day in the office you would also do well to retire here for an evening.
Situated near Clapham South tube stop the pub formally known as `The George` has been given a much needed make over by Tom Peake, Mark Reynolds and Nick Fox the brains behind other well known haunts such as the The White Hart in Kennington and The Bolingbroke in Battersea. This clever bunch were smart enough to recognise the rise of young professionals in the area in need of somewhere to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat without having to head over to the Common or down the hill towards Balham.
It was a wild and windy Tuesday night when I visited Avalon with my mum (always wise to bring your mum when you want an opinion on the bathrooms- `very good` apparently). Yet despite heavy rain and the miserable credit crunch we opened the door to a packed out bar. The initial impression is a very British one: Copper clad lamps cast a warm glow over a Victorian inspired interior with dark wooden furnishings and velvet lined armchairs- a perfect antidote to the wintry weather. We enjoyed a couple of dangerously delicious apple martinis from the varied drinks menu and then headed into the restaurant towards the back of the building.
The Victorian theme continues into a large industrial looking room. Walls are covered in glazed white tiles, some of which depict 19th century black & white illustrations from the London News. A huge iron mirror stretches over nearly an entire wall and compliments two stunning chandeliers designed by Jericho Hands that use reclaimed parts of naval ships. It was all very clean and masculine, appropriate considering the pub`s menu listed pies and steak amongst its specials.
We started with salads: mine a squid and chorizo combination, mum`s a venison carpaccio number. Both were excellent, beautifully presented and just the right amount to wet the appetite. Still feeling the effects of the martinis we decided to forgo the heavier meat dishes and opt for fish instead. My roasted lemon sole arrived dressed in a lemon butter sauce and was cooked to perfection. Mum decided on hake done with pancetta and pea that felt like a heartier dish but equally as tasty. It`s a good idea to order a few asides as most of the dishes come separately, we enjoyed buttery spinach, baby carrots and of course chips! The friendly staff regularly checked to see if we were enjoying our meal, brought us complimentary bread & olives and topped up our wine glasses. Sitting in the corner of the room we had a great view and noted that over all the service in the restaurant appeared to be superb. I have no doubt that some of the table were occupied by regulars who spill over from the bar after a few drinks. In fact I was surprised how quickly the place filled up over the course of the evening, it certainly didn`t feel like a Tuesday night.
Finally we hit desert. I couldn`t resist the sticky toffee pudding with bourbon ice cream while mum was much more virtuous with her a hazelnut, pear and mascarpone affair. I have to admit mine was a predictably better choice.
Both of us thoroughly enjoyed our night in King Arthur`s local and from what I could gather so did most of the revellers in there too. Amazing what those knights in shining armour can cook up.
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