Review – The Pepper Tree – Clapham Common, London
In the latest Time Out listings The Pepper Tree was voted best restaurant in Clapham. With this in mind it would be remiss of me not to go and check it out.
From the outside this Thai restaurant doesn’t look extraordinary but it is in a great location overlooking the southern end of Clapham Common. There is a cute seating area outside though, partitioned from the pavement with a low divider, nice for a cocktail or two I’m sure.
The staff were welcoming on arrival and we were quickly seated at our table. It is communal dining here, long tables and benches, reminiscent of street food traders in Thailand. The menu looks good but today I’m here to try the newly launched brunch menu. Think England meets Thailand and you get the idea.
Drinks first and I ordered strong tea and a freshly squeezed beetroot juice whilst my companion ordered a lychee mai tai. The juice was good but the star was the mai tai – delicious!
The choices for brunch can be found on most other menus, the twist here is that everything is spicier and more fragrant. The spicy sausages are made to a special Pepper Tree recipe by a local butcher, the four beans are spicy too taking the place of baked beans and as well as chilli you’ll find lemongrass and kaffir lime showing up in lots of dishes.
I opted for the omelette with bacon, sausage and chutney. The chutney was superb, I wish there had been more, it added moisture to the dish too which I think was needed. My companion had the full English. Turns out it was too much for her and she couldn’t finish all of it, needless to say the portion sizes were generous. This was also evident by other diners dishes coming out of the kitchen. The dishes all arrived not long after ordering, were hot and definetly filled a gap.
If you would like to try something more traditionally Thai go for the Congee. Think of it as a soupy porridge made with meat broth and served with pork balls, prawns and a poached egg. I had a small portion and reckon it tasted much better than it sounded, I actually quite liked it!
Our final dish was the rice pudding with fresh mango. It is cooked with coconut milk and came out suitably sticky and stomach-warming. As the pudding is not too sweet we would choose to forego the Greek yoghurt on top, to us it was a bit sour for the dish.
I found the ambience at The Pepper Tree to be relaxed and the décor was fun and vibrant. The staff were efficient and really seemed to want you to enjoy your experience here, nothing was too much trouble. Prices are average for breakfast and the food was just what I needed for a Saturday morning. I would like to try the evening menu next time, I have my eye on a big bowl of noodle soup.
I think our visit was summed up best by a kid sitting at the next table who said ‘Mum, can we come here for breakfast every weekend?’