Counter Culture in Clapham, from The Dairy
I mourned the loss of The Dairy deli, where I used to buy their excellent bouncy boules of sourdough bread, bright pickles, bone marrow butter and house smoked trout. I particularly loved the piccalilli. Alas, it is gone, and now in places of shelves, there are bar counters and stools. Where there was a fridge displaying all sorts of goodies and a proud cooked ham sitting on top, there is a large wooden bar from behind which a tight team of cooks deliver a seasonal selection of small plates and one dessert. And it is even better.
The Dairy’s Naughty Little Brother
Counter Culture is a relaxed space for The Dairy to deliver their house cured salamis and ferments and pickles along with vibrant small plates. Billed as The Dairy’s naughty little brother, and located next door, it is a fun space with just 15 seats (and you can book!). George East is at the helm here (overseen by Robin Gill next door), and Coco Crean (previously of Paradise Garage) is front of house. It is characterful and exciting, and a friendly place. The food is very good, and for now, it is BYO. Yes, BYO. So, why are you still sitting there?
Let’s talk about the food. I have been twice, once for the opening and once since with a friend. Prices are excellent, everything is under £10 and like The Dairy, everything looks deceptively simple, but on every dish there are layers of flavour and technique. The menu changes a little from day to day, this is the kind of thing you can expect.
Sour potato flatbread with ‘nduja and cultured cream. The Dairy is deservedly respected for their house bread, enter now the potato bread. A chewy gorgeous slice with small chunks of potato spiced and enriched with Calabrian ‘nduja on the side (that wonderful powerfully spicy spreadable pork sausage) and cultured cream. £4.
Sweet promise mackerel, sour escabeche, salted blood orange (£8). A beautiful dish, just to look at, the bitter treviso a lovely counter to the fresh sweet sour mackerel and the blood oranges cheery, sour and bright.
Purple artichokes and smoked cod roe (£7.50) – a gorgeous dip approaching taramsalata (and the proper stuff not the bright pink terrifying one in the supermarket), creamy and rich with lovely tart lightly pickled artichokes to drag through it.
Cellar ferments and pickles (£3.50) – fresh from the Dairy cellar where they have been fizzing and pickling for months, these are excellent. I loved the romanesco particularly.
Crab crackers with Korean spiced brown crab dip (£4). House crab crackers (think prawn crackers but with crab with a lovely rich crab dip and wakame. Lovely.
Bambi dog with sauerkraut and crispy shallots (£8.50) – a divine venison hot dog with piquant sauerkraut and crispy shallots on top. Just what it says really and very good.
There is no booze on sale but there is BYO (yay!) and there are some alcohol free cocktails like fizzy banana kombucha (£4) and peach and ginger cream soda (£4). BYO has a £4 cover fee.
My first visit was on the opening night, on my second we ordered almost the whole menu between two of us at and it came to approximately £40 each with BYO corkage and service. I recommend it very highly. You can book online, which I recommend you do, as it tends to be busy.
Happy weekend – get down there.
What you need to know
Open Tues – Fri 6pm – 11pm, Sat 3pm – 11pm, closed Sun – Mon
Book online: http://www.countercultureclapham.co.uk/