Very few places in London thrive more in the warmer weather than Clapham’s array of bars and gastros. The attraction of glistening Clapham Common and the plethora of drinking establishments on offer sees an onslaught of sunburnt and slightly intoxicated South of the River Joes hitting the town.
We’ve always loved Clapham at this time of year so jumped at the chance to try out some cocktails and some sharing plates at No.32 The Old Town, which is a stone’s throw from Clapham Common.
You’ll find No.32 The Old Town bar and restaurant across the road and overlooking Clapham Common on The Pavement – that’s a road name as well as an actual pavement! It’s a 3 minute walk from Clapham Common Station on the Northern Line, and there’s plenty of up-market boutiques and delis to hit in the area. Not to mention plenty of room for a chill on the common itself. Quite frankly, you couldn’t get a more idyllic urban location.
No.32 describes itself as ‘an independent neighbourhood bar and restaurant that has drawn inspiration from the local area, its people and its sense of fun to create a stylish yet relaxed backdrop that welcomes you in to make the space your own whatever time or day.’ If that’s the brief then we think they’ve nailed it.
On arrival, you’ll first notice the huge French windows opening right on to the street that give the place a warm and welcoming feel. Its décor is undoubtedly contemporary without being too precise or pristine – a ran down table football table resides on the second floor, for example.
There are long tables on each level so there’s plenty of space to catch up with friends, as well as maybe make some new ones! But the pièce de résistance is the roof terrace on the second floor which looks out over the common. The best thing about this spot is you can’t reserve a space and the atmosphere is all the more relaxed and richer for it. Friends catching up with cocktails are sat next to diners sharing plates of meats and cheese.
We went and sampled the sharing plates and small dishes. The selection of Cheeses and Meats were as you’d expect and want from No.32: Good variations and plenty of it. Both of which were also accompanied by slabs of expertly baked artisan bread which we struggled to finish to due to the sheer volume! No bad thing, though!
The Smoked Salmon Pate was smooth and not too over-powering, while the Chorizo and Avocado Crostini similarly hit the spot. But the real winner was the Smoked Haddock and Spinach Fish Cakes, which were served with the creamiest and most delicious Cheddar Sauce. We’d go back to No.32 for the sauce alone.
We should also say that there is the usual gastro-pub grub up for grabs too with an all-day brunch, burgers, salads, steak and also an extensive breakfast menu on offer meaning No.32 opens at 9am. There’s also a traditional roast served on a Sunday. While we didn’t sample it, we did get a good look and whiff – we think it’s safe to say we’d approve!
If you’re looking for a swift one, we wouldn’t recommend No.32. The beer menu isn’t extensive with the most exotic pint on offer being Pilsner Urquell, which you’ll find in many a London boozer. Beers are also pretty much universally £5 a pint.
But if you’re looking to celebrate with a few friends and want some cocktails with a view, No.32 is right up your street. The cocktail menu is superb and focuses on classics with a twist. While we wanted to, we couldn’t quite manage to try all of them. But we’d recommend the Elderflower and Earl Grey Fizz, a smooth and subtle cocktail which sees Earl Grey infused Tanqueray gin mixed with elderflower cordial; and the Rhubarb & Apple Rum Punch, a cocktail which packs more of a kick with its housemade lemon syrup sherbet and Appleton V/X rum.
Overall we had a great time in the sun at No. 32 The Old Town. We found the staff to be attentive, the food was great and the location was perfect for a summer’s day. No.32 is not especially cheap but this is definitely a place that aims above the norm and the quality reflects that. While the roof terrace should definitely be enjoyed whenever possible, the rest of this gastro-pub is more than accommodating and will have you coming back.