Tucked away down a side street just opposite Clapham North station, The Lodge welcomes guests with a fairy-lit stairway which opens onto an intimately sized room kitted out in true aprés-ski fashion; cosy rugs, wooden décor and chalet style furnishings create an instantly warming atmosphere. An even smaller room is hidden away up another flight of stairs, and both venues are available for private hire on a bring-your-own bottle basis.
The principle is simple – responsibly sourced ingredients, warming winter cocktails and dishes which encompass a taste of the Swiss Alps. And what an enticing taste it is: guests are spoiled for choice with a an authentic menu that boasts a Chateaubriand of version, cured meats sourced exclusively from third-generation butchers in Jimmy’s father’s home town of Asturias, and wild game supplied by gamekeeper Rick Easton in Surrey, all of which he hunts himself.
We recommend the pigeon breast and celeriac remoulade, cooked to pink-centred perfection and beautifully presented on a bed of lettuce, which gave the dish a welcome textural crunch. But it is Jimmy's fondue that really steals the show. Neal’s Yard artisan cheeses and others imported from Switzerland are melted together in a vat of rich, warming, full-flavoured boozy indulgence: just the kind of hefty meal you’d want to be welcomed in from a day on the the icy Swiss ski slopes with. “We do fondue” is a motto The Lodge more than lives up to.
The drinks list is no less extensive or authentic: wine comes provided by local Valais wine producer Provins and cocktails are shaken and stirred with Morand liquor. The appropriately named bloody Heidi blew us away, and we can't recommend it enough. For a subtler affair, guests can't go wrong with the Swiss mojito: a careful, complimentary blend of ginger ale, sugar cane, lime and fresh mint. Mulled wine served in flasks makes for an atmospheric touch, and the wine itself is the perfect antidote to the chilling winter winds: an aromatic blend of cinnamon, orange and clove flavourings. The hot espresso liqueur cocktail was so powerful it near knocked us over, certainly not for the weak of heart but a coffee lover's dream.
Now an established name on the pop-up dining scene in London, Garcia’s latest project may well be his most spectacular yet. As the nights get colder and longer, we urge Londoners to find foodie sanctuary in one of our favourite wintery refuges.
|What||Jimmy Garcia's Winter Pop-up, Clapham|
|Where||The Lodge Clapham, 409 Clapham Rd, London, SW9 9BT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Clapham North (underground)|
08 Oct 15 – 20 Mar 16, Open now