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The Avalon (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of The Avalon in Clapham, London

14-16 Balham Hill, Clapham, London, SW12 9EB
Cuisine: Gastro
Tel: 020 8675 8613 | Email to The Avalon | Transport: Clapham South | Write review

The Avalon Review

If you were ever a patron of The George in Clapham South you probably remember that Stella was a big seller. If you’re thinking of returning there now, however, you’ll need to reach into your box of facial expressions and dust off the ‘jaw-dropping gobsmacked’ look. Say au revoir to Artois.

The proprietors of the new incarnation Avalon - Messrs Peake, Fox, and Reynolds - have adopted the same approach that Messrs. Darling and Abramovich have used at The Treasury and Chelsea FC: namely, ‘throw enough cash at the problem and it’ll go away’. Only at Avalon, they’ve seen far better results. Either they’ve juiced up Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen AND Linda Barker in a blender and dunked the big fat George pub cheque book in the soggy remains OR Paul Daniels has been involved somehow because there’s remnants of magic everywhere. The alleged hoax that Jesus did with the water and the wine was pretty entertaining and feeding Dad-knows how many thousand people with a bit of Hovis and Bird’s Eye was quite impressive, but neither trick surmounts to the illusion Messrs Peake, Fox, and Reynolds have conjured up. There’s a danger of drowning in a sea of superlatives here but make no mistake, they are all relevant. Wow, wow, and wow again. Avalon is about 13 types of wow.

For starters, the proof is indicated by the alfresco indulgence: a quiet side garden for confab bitching; a slate-under-foot front garden for smoking demonstrations; and a rear garden fitted with outdoor kitchen, fountain feature and an entire Homebase worth of paraphernalia.

Internally, they’ve proven time travel. If you’re looking to get into Victorian dining, ladies and gentleboys, then the back room’s transformation from grubby holding pen for football fans shouting at an inert TV into a 19th century brasserie will excite you more than hearing your firstborn’s first words. The shiny butcher-white tiles are a dead giveaway. Set amongst them are newspaper drawings from the era that depict the science of butterflies, pugilists getting down to business and soldiers messing about with their canons. Hanging from the natural skylights high above the diners are two billowing sails of copper and steel; odd yet eye-catching chandeliers. And of course, the menu’s Art Nouveau font makes no attempt to hide its provenance and its content proudly parades antiquated words such as oxtail, pigeon faggots, and Spatchcock poussin.

The Sudoku challenge of deciding what wine, starter and main to add to one another will take you an age, so as a general guide avoid the steaks and roasts as there’s are better fish to fry. Like Mr Monkfish, for example, who is bigger and juicier than any Giant Peach that James might have. Mr Monkfish arrives with a dash of rogue buffalo mozzarella, yet still commands the plate magnificently. Similarly, the guinea fowl is accompanied by the rather fetching rosti; but the latter only serves to compliment the star breast, not usurp it.

The starters are spruced up in fine fettle. In fact one of them IS fine fettle, from Yorkshire no less (??). Alternatively, surprise yourself with the ham hock and pig’s trotter croquettes - yes, croquettes - like meaty terrine that’s been crisping in the sun.

As for desserts; cheeseboard, on y’bike. The desserts generally exude seduction thanks to a good number of ‘clotted’, ‘rum toasted’, and ‘glazed’ scattered amongst the menu and they’re all opulently presented; especially the chocolate & beetroot muffin which comes with sparkles and looks, for all the world, like a piece of brown Kryptonite. However, ignore them all and dive right into the summer pudding. This is the Tarantino of desserts. Delivered on a pristine white plate, this is fruit which has been murdered, but in a good way. Now, without sounding fruitist, fruit death is definitely warranted in circumstances like these. The blood red ooze may look like a crime scene, but unlike the other calorific counters, it certainly wont kill you.

As for the negative comments about the food that have previously appeared - if they pre-date April 2009 they can very much be ignored. A new Sheriff (or chef for short) is in town and things are gonna be might different ‘round here from now on.

Although the wine list is affably natured with a good herd in each section, it seems absentminded of the wine buyers to neglect the English heritage vibe that drips from every surface of Avalon, because they’ve forgotten to snap up some highly rated local sauce. Of what there is, the whites look slightly more full of themselves because of youthful freshness and because they gladly eye up the high quotient of fish dishes on offer (the South African False Bay Sauvignon Blanc for £18 is sitting pretty). On the red side, paying 48 notes for a Barolo isn’t justifiably for a 2004 vintage.

Avalon is also the UN of furniture, with large and small tables milling around with low sofas and high stools amongst a backdrop of dark wood, velvet upholstery and a few well positioned plants. A noble stag’s head fixed to the wall stares pensively towards the bar, perhaps waiting for a pint of the local Wandle ale or trying to ignore the largely, and refreshingly, redundant TV and DJ booth beside him.

By the looks of it, Avalon seems to draw custom from the cast of some sort of BBC post-Hollyoaks TV series called Commoners (or something) in which the lives of former Clapham Common huggers are dramatised. They’ve thrown away their kickabout-in-the-park boots, married up, and migrated to Zone 3 because that’s where grown ups live. These are the sort of folk who have given up on pub quizzes because they’re just not challenging enough.

So save for the miniscule hinderances - the omission of English wine and the unfortunate view of the King of Burgers over the road - Avalon is an out-and-out 9er. As destinations go, this is England. more

Customer Reviews for The Avalon

Average (based on 6 votes): 6 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of The Avalon.

“I was in London for the week end, my daughter and her friend took me to the Avalon for a meal Sat night 14-5-11. We had a great meal the atmosphere was great and the staff were fantastic, nothing was too much trouble and the manager was the best. Well done”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Joan Jones, Ruthin, North Wales (9 years 11 months ago)

“I'm a big fan of the Avalon have been since the refurb. I recently dined in the restaurant for the first and probably last time. We were shown promptly to our table and then ignored for 25 minutes. Tables too close together, lighting so dark I couldn't see my food. We gave up on pudding as no one seemed to care and waited forever to pay the bill. Having said that, the staff are great and always have been (even on that evening, our waitress was lovely) and we will continue to frequent the Avalon, it's a great pub. But we will give the restaurant a miss, very disappointing and the rating I've given is for my one and only experience in the restaurant. I will add that on a weekend unless you have small children or just love being around them, the Avalon turns into a massive creche and is to be avoided at all costs.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Goggs, London (10 years 6 months 23 days ago)

“Wow, what a transformation! This was once a venue for footie scoundrels, now it has thankfully become THE cool hangout in this part of town, filled to bits with young, gorgeous professionals, like myself. Easily the best bar-restaurant-pub thingie this side of Clapham South. And what a beer garden! Who knew it was even there?”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Leigh, Tooting (11 years 7 months 25 days ago)

Show all user reviews for The Avalon

“Lovely decor - the restaurant is fabulous with huge chandeleirs and understated elegance. We loved the food too in the bar area and the service from the waiter was faultless. A very enjoyable night out and great to have a stylish gastro pub in Clapham South.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
TINA LAING, CLAPHAM (12 years 1 months 12 days ago)

“What a shame the superb makeover didn't extend to the food. My visit last week was a huge disappointment. My pate starter was almost frozen while the main was dry and overcooked. My partner had more success with the steak which was very good, though nearly 20 quid. Other diners agreed that even the relatively simple dishes like the sunday roast were not great - not bad but just not the quality you'd expect for the price. There are plenty of nearby restaurants where you can get much better food and pay the same or less . The staff are largely friendly and the bar seemed like the kind of place i'd pop back to for a pint or two - I'll just make sure to eat elsewhere first. Three more niggles, if you're printing dated, daily menus why include 'specials' which aren't available. Flabby frozen chips are rarely 'hand cut'. Finally, if you're thinking of booking please note the rather strange policy of not accepting reservations between 1pm and 3pm on sunday- that's lunchtime for most of us.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
balhamboy, london (12 years 1 months 16 days ago)

“I have never before been served a meal that was so bad I had to send it back. Do not eat here - for a supposed gastro pub the food is appalling. The meals in our party ranged from overcooked but just about edible, to completely unacceptable. Avoid it.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Janty, London (12 years 3 months 4 days ago)

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Avalon food menus
Avalon food menus


All menus are complemented by a strong international wine list divided rather usefully by style rather than region or grape variety. Choose from ‘fresh, light and easy drinking’, ‘quaffing fruity reds’ and ‘floral and aromatic’ to name but a few. Allowing for experimentation, over 20 bins are also available by the glass or carafe. A rotating list of top British cask ales such as Doom Bar from Cornwall, Hooky from Oxfordshire and London Pride as well as classic cocktails will also be on offer.

Updated 19/05/2009

Avalon drinks menu
Avalon drinks menu

The Avalon Opening Hours

Monday: 12:00pm - 11:00pm Friday: 12:00pm - 1:00am
Tuesday: 12:00pm - 11:00pm Saturday: 12:00pm - 1:00am
Wednesday: 12:00pm - 11:00pm Sunday: 12:00pm - 10:30pm
Thursday: 12:00pm - 12:00am    

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Venue ID: 17213

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