Tuesday, February 5, 2013
One thing I love about living in London is that the city is so big that I could never get bored. Despite being here for five years, there are still areas that I haven’t been to. Balham, for example. Just south of Clapham Common, the neighborhood is one of the current darlings of the London scene. And what better introduction than a meal at one of its most beloved restaurants, Harrison’s?
Harrison’s just emerged from a big refurbishment, and the restaurant invited me to have dinner there last night to celebrate its first day open after the remodel. I hopped on the Northern line and soon found myself in a funky neighborhood filled with cute cafes, boutiques, and restaurants. So far I liked Balham.
I also liked Harrison’s. The sign outside was all sparkling lights, but the ambiance in the restaurant was cool and sleek. The open kitchen was fronted by intimate booths and a brown leather banquette, and big windows connected the zinc-topped bar tables with the buzz outside.
In the background, everything from Led Zeppelin to Steve Miller serenaded my friend and me as we looked over the eclectic brown paper menu, which doubled as a placemat. I chose to start with burrata with clementines and honey glazed almonds, which was a great blend of creamy and citrusy, dairy and spice.
My friend went with the chilled crab trifle, which was served in a funky jar along with avocado, tomatoes, and cheese. It was a refreshing blend of flavors, although it could have used a bit of a kick to bring them out.
Moving on to the mains, I chose Harrison’s meatballs with soft polenta, which was warm winter comfort food on a plate. My friend went with the Goan fish curry, which wowed us both with its fresh seafood and great blend of spices.
To finish off the evening, I had a gooey chocolate fondant with caramel ice cream. It was a sweet treat, and a great end to the meal. My friend went with a rhubarb dessert with cardamom, an inventive and refreshing balance of creaminess, sweetness, and spice.
When we finished, we pried ourselves from our cozy booth at Harrison’s and headed north for home. While Balham was a bit of a detour from our usual haunts, it was worth the trip. It may take me another five years to get down there again, but I know which restaurant I will go to when I do.