The Avalon – Balham

The pub trade generally has gone through a difficult period in recent years, but in south London there is definitely a resurgence of the great British pub. The Three Cheers Pub Co. is a small group of pubs based in south London that we discovered when we had a great evening at The Rosendale in West Dulwich. We went to another of their pubs, The Avalon, in Balham (but closer to Clapham South station) where we were invited to sample their new menu.

The dining room

The pub has an attractive bar area on entering, which has a lively atmosphere and a bar stocked with a wide variety of beers, wines and cocktails. Behind the bar is the large dining area with comfortable seating and some amazing lighting (see photo). There is also a lovely garden at the rear, closed at the moment, but a brilliant place to spend an evening in the warmer weather.

Starter – calamari

The menu has a small plates section for sharing or starters, mains including some old favourites, and also a selection of artisan pizzas.  We went for some olives and a mini-bucket of calamari as starters. The calamari were perfectly cooked, soft with a crispy batter – a good start!

Seafood, chorizo & chick pea stew

For mains, Mrs D. chose an interesting stew featuring mussels, chorizo, chickpeas, cod cheeks, squid and micro fennel. Quite a lot in there, but it looked so attractive and the taste was great with the cod cheeks the highlight. Feeling hungry, I went for the slow-cooked lamb shank with crushed purple potatoes, braised root veg with mint jus. The lamb was well cooked and came off the bone easily, the full flavour complemented by the dark and intense jus, while the sweetness of the root veg was an excellent counterpoint.

Lamb shank

We’d enjoyed an excellent Chilean Merlot priced at £23 – whoever selects the wines for these pubs knows their business – so decided to share what turned out to be a very generous cheeseboard to accompany the remains of the bottle. In fact, portions generally are large enough to satisfy the biggest of appetites! Prices are £4.50-6.00 for small plates, mains £11.50-14.50, pizzas £9.50-11.50 and puds £5.50-7.50.

The Avalon is an attractive pub, serving great food at reasonable prices. We had a lovely evening there and would definitely recommend it for drinks and dining.

The Avalon, 16 Balham Hill, SW12 9EB

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