When I told my cheffie friend M that we were going to go for dinner to Clapham, he did a double take and asked if I was sure I meant Clapham, being, as one could say, not the choice of destination for a gastronomic treat (no offence to Claphamites). Reason was that I’d heard, over the past year, many a good thing about Trinity, Adam Byatt’s neighborhood eatery, named after the church that guards the local vicinity. Clapham Common, by the way, is a haven for mass groups of people running, jumping, indulging in boot camp-style fitness regimes even in the pouring rain.
There really wasn’t much deliberating as to whether we should go for the a la carte or tasting menu, although in hindsight, we should have gone for the a la carte and saved us the trouble of having to eat course after course of bland and boring food.
Before it all began, we were presented with croquettes of wigmore with toasted hay mayonnaise. Now, apart from being brown and grainy, there really wasn’t any point to hay being in the mayonnaise. First order of the day was a celeriac soup with salt baked celeriac which was just a good, standard celeriac soup, as celeriac soups generally are. Next up was a crusted mackerel, apple, beetroot and cucumber which had a bland neutrality across the plate with the mackerel being the strongest flavour and nothing else doing anything to complement it apart from textural differences. (this was my alternative to the scallops dish, which looked a 5 year old’s first foray into art)
Scottish girolles and ceps on toast came without any ceps, and we were told that as there was a shortage of ceps that day, only a tiny amount had been used – which they clearly werent. Not even a speck was on the plate and both of us searched to no avail. Also, the toast was a soggy piece of bread that was slightly stale (crispy edges as stale bread has) and again, under seasoned with the girolles having a sweaty, boiled taste and feel to them.
Cod, cockles, cauliflower, capers and raisins was probably the best dish of the evening as it had two flavours that stood out. One was the cauliflower and the other was the raisin. These two were probably the strongest and most exciting flavours of the evening. Unfortunately.
Plate of winter vegetables (as I couldn’t have the prawn risotto) looked and sounded much more exciting than it was. The vegetables really didn’t taste of much and there were oodles of lovely ceps on this plate – what’s that all about?!
Mackerel, oxtail and pumpkin - another plate of mackerel! only this time, everything tasted of mackerel (slightly old mackerel) – the oxtail tasted of it, the pumpkin was just a yellow colour that absorbed the mackerel. The whole dish was missing acidity, salt, and a flavour other than mackerel.
BBQ red deer, charred cabbage, spiced plum, pastilla - I don’t think I’ve ever had a tougher, chewier piece of meat. Beautifully cooked, but terrible quality. The spiced plum was more like a pickled plum and the pastilla of venison liver was dry and grainy.
Black forest really took the cake (sorry for the pun) on bad desserts. This deconstruction just goes to prove that altering some classics should not be undertaken – improving them, as Heston had done with his BFG is an entirely different matter. Here there was a dry, barely chocolatey sponge cake, cream and a chocolate ganache. None of which seemed to come together in any form – on the plate or on the palate, bizarrely.
Service, though was lovely, if at times too garrulous and the bag of breakfast granola they give you at the end was really the best thing of all.