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First time at the dairy

the dairy

 

Last week, C. and I went to The Dairy in Clapham for the first time.  I had been warmly encouraged by a local who said that it was almost impossible to get a table on the weekend.  She was right.   The earliest booking for a Saturday night was a month and a half away...  So I opted for a Tuesday night instead.  The Dairy was opened less than a year ago in a small, unassuming space on the main stretch of Clapham Old Town.  I have walked past it numerous times without even noticing it (it is that small).  So when a friend mentioned that it was a little hidden gem that the locals were keeping to themselves, I had to try it. 

the dairy interior

The Dairy was buzzing as soon as we entered the restaurant.  Our table was waiting for us like the last child to be picked for a football match.  Happily seated, we almost immediately engaged in a conversation with two ladies seated at the next table.  The proximity of the tables is such that the ladies had overheard our hesitation about whether to choose the tasting menu or individual dishes.  Unobtrusively, they enthusiastically encouraged us to go for the former.   And so we opted for the tasting menu.   An excellent decision if I may say so.  The chef at The Dairy, Robin Gill, sources the finest seasonal ingredients and even grows a selection of ingredients in his own urban garden.  My kind of place.  The meal that followed was a graceful procession of small dishes, seven in total, timed perfectly and presented by friendly and smiling staff.  Here are a few dishes taken from the tasting menu:

 

Cod's head rillettes, sour cream, seaweed bread

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Chicken liver mousse, smoked bone marrow, salumi

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Rooftop carrots, goats cheese, oat granola, buttermilk

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the dairy foodOnglet, squash and pumpkin seeds

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Truffled Brie de Meaux on toast, Acacia honey

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Salted caramel, biscuits, malted barley ice cream

 


On top of the freshness and seasonality of the ingredients, the kitchen staff also put a lot of thought into the rustic crockery and the delicate presentation on the plate.  Each dish was a discovery, a delight.  Each staff member we interacted with was smiling, friendly and engaging. They genuinely seemed to be happy being there.  They probably had tasted the food before the first guests arrived.  The atmosphere was welcoming and lively, a bit too noisy at times, but it made for a truly memorable evening.

One question remains on my mind though: "Why is it called The Diary?"  I will have to ask them next time I go.

 

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