The Avalon, Clapham South by Paloma Lacy
A truly good pub is a year-round affair. It should afford the opportunity to eat hearty meals in a warm and cosy atmosphere in the winter, and dine al fresco during the warmer months.
The Avalon is such an all-rounder, which knocked the frost of my fingertips during my last visit, one January day.
This time, it was mid-summer, with temperatures almost reaching 30C, and the welcome just as warm.
‘The newly refurbished rear garden transports you to another
A veritable arboretum of mature trees and plants provides a calming atmosphere and seclusion from city life. Split into three very different sections: a lounge filled with giant cushions at the back, perfect for parties – for up to 30 people – or just soaking up that precious British sunshine.
The centre area is dedicated to wooden booths which can be reserved for dining and drinking. There’s even a giant feasting table designed for bigger celebrations for up to 30 people or making new summer friends.
Finally at the front of the garden, an al fresco bar provides the perfect backdrop to enjoy the sunshine, with sustenance from the a la carte and small plates menu.
We were a large party of eight adults and seven children, and we took over two booths.
It was so nice to get the children outdoors and they played happily while the bigger people took on the serious job of deciding what everyone would eat.
It was quickly decided that we’d share a collection of small plates, and these were duly ordered, without any input from me.
Our table lead did well, opting for mac ‘n’ cheese croquettes with onion jam (£6), chorizo Scotch egg and Coronation mayo (£6), and grilled lamb koftas, guindilla peppers and tahini dressing (£6.50). All dishes were well received and the menu in general received a massive thumbs-up from all of us.
The menu can’t be pigeon-holed, it’s sort of British, particularly when you take into consideration the roasts available during our Sunday visit.
However, it also trots across the globe, touching down in the Middle East and the Caribbean, before reaching out across the Mediterranean.
If it’s not too trite a phrase to use, the menu holds something for everyone.
‘The bar at The Avalon’
The pub is part of the Three Cheers Pub Co.
Despite the glorious sunshine, I was instantly drawn to the roasts section, but in particular the vegan option as I continue to marvel at how a chef can make it taste as good and satisfying as its meaty counterpart.
The nut roast was no exception – rich, full of deep and smoky flavours, it was awesome, and I rarely use this word. This dish was everything you expect from a roast and more – comforting, a huge mound of veg, and its vegan status left me feeling full in a wholesome way. Roast potatoes and parsnips, Yorkshire pudding (how do chefs create this without using egg?) were all present and correct, and with lashings of gravy, that I couldn’t quite believe was meat free.
Did I miss the meat? No way. The mains aren’t particularly inspiring, but what you will find is good, honest pub food, cooked exceeding well. Steak, beef burger, fish and chips, or handful of pizzas are the order of the day here.
The kids’ menu is pretty standard, with miniature versions of most full size mains available, with a few of the old favourites thrown in. Our kids enjoyed the food, so that’s all the praise needed. What was most noticeable was the staff’s positive attitude to children, they were genuinely pleased to see them and nothing was too much trouble. It isn’t always like this, when taking little diners out.
A party pub the Avalon certainly is, but we found it very family friendly. There are lots of deals on and different menus floating around, and we noticed that they offer 50 per cent off takeaway pizza Monday to Friday, noon until 9pm.