If you’re heading south of the river, make a beeline for Harrison’s in Balham. This brasserie and bar is a hit with locals, and was packed to the rafters on our visit. The upstairs restaurant rocks a laid back vibe, with booths, tables, and bar stools near an open kitchen. The overall muted tones and industrial décor is brightened up with touches of teal.
If you want to start your boozy lunch off properly, head downstairs to the enclave of the bar, wood paneling, and red leather booths give it that bang-on-trend speakeasy vibe, but it’s more cosy than quirky and is a really nice little hideaway. Cocktails are the name of the game, and while the restaurant has a selections of classics (think bellinis and cosmopolitans), the bar cocktail menu is a bit more adventurous. You can keep things simple with a No. Ten, made with Tanqueray, elderflower and apple juice, or get a bit squiffy with a Mandarin Genie; gin, mandarin juice, honey and bitters, both £8.
While the bar menu samples some of the treats on offer, the upstairs kitchen turns out hearty, and surprisingly refined dishes. Ham hock and black pudding fritters, £7.50, are a piece of delicious deep-fried indulgence, while buffalo mozzarella, grilled peach, broad beans and chilli, £7.50, is brilliantly fresh. Mains do a bit of globe-trotting from pasta dishes through to curries, but the classic combinations such as roasted cod, chorizo and borlotti beans, £16, and honey glazed pork chop with baked sweet potato, £14.50, won us over. olive’s dinner date even decreed the cod one of the best things she had ever eaten. High praise indeed. If you’ve got room for dessert, Harrisons has some pretty decadent ice cream flavours, try peanut butter, salted caramel or coconut, £6.
GO NOW Until the end of August, every Tuesday and Wednesday the downstairs bar is offering 50% off all food and drink.
GO WITH A date. The bar is buzzy, but intimate, so you’ll be able to hear each other.
GO NUTS! You’ll want to order the burger, but you should definitely have that cod!