If, as they say, location is everything, Perky Nel is off to a good start.
Situated opposite Clapham Common, this spot has long been home to some of the most happening joints in town.
Even on a windy evening in March, the front terrace is full of happy folk, enjoying a drink in the evening air.
It was cold, so I quickly skipped inside to find a packed pub.
A mix of those who’ve come in to watch the rugby, friends catching up, and the odd date in full swing – but most dining.
The menu is both comforting and innovative – those looking for the pub classics can indulge in fish and chips or a burger – but then there are also the unexpected dishes.
Actually, allow me to correct myself, the heavy emphasis on veggie and vegan dishes is of little surprise, but the effort the kitchen has gone to, to showcase the best veganism has offering, is hugely impressive.
Barbecue pulled jackfruit, shredded red onion and hipsi cabbage slaw (£11) is just one example.
Quite unintentionally, my friend and I ended up going vegan, not for any other reason other than these were the best dishes on the menu.
Harissa red pepper, aubergine dip and hummus mezze, with grilled flatbread and sweet potato falafels (£7.50) was just my sort of dish and great as a sharing starter.
I particularly enjoyed the aubergine, sweet, smoky and satisfying.
Next up, beluga lentil, mushroom, rosemary and sweet potato pie, kale, with spiced pumpkin seeds (£10), which the waitress described as vegan shepherd’s pie – a lovely quirky name and a shame it wasn’t named as such on the menu.
My friend and I agreed that this was actually better than the real (or meat) thing and proof positive that going meat free needn’t impact on flavour.
The deeply-rich gravy held the juicy filling together and worked brilliantly with the soft, sweet topping.
Accompanying crispy kale made this a real winner of a dish.
Other stand-out dishes included celeriac, spring onion and tomato curry, red lentil, cumin garlic rice, naan bread and mango chutney, and roast butternut squash and new potato warm salad with kale and grain mustard dressing.
And the veggie choices abound with butternut squash soup with toasted sage, chilli and crème fraiche, and halloumi, courgette and aubergine burger with pesto.
Paloma was a guest of Perky Nel, 7-8 Cavendish Parade London SW4 9DW
Tel: 020 8772 0303
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