Guess whose back. Back again. Clapham’s back. Tell a friend.
Ok so Clapham might not have exactly gone out of fashion, I mean far from it. But with other areas of London opening up new restaurants east, west and city central, Clapham’s maybe not had so much love from the food enthused recently.
Tell me if I’m wrong but Londoners can be a lazy bunch. We don’t often like going outside our comfort areas of the E1 and W1 postcodes so put an SW in front of it and you’ll probably get a face resembling the one I pull when someone plays dubstep on the overground at 8.30am.
Saying that, I’ll get on a train to pretty much anywhere that promises an unforgettable meal at the end of it. And it turns out; Clapham is actually only a few stops down the Northern Line. Who knew?!
Stepping onto the high street I knew I’d be returning. Door after door of music filled bars and boozy sounding restaurants - each selling an extended happy hour longer than the next - reminded me of a European strip. Minus the irritating hosts leering you in with sugary shots.
So after a double hit of half-price cocktails from next-door-but-one 64th and Social, we elegantly stumbled into Mommi.
Opened by the same group who host famous faces at KOKO and pump Chelsea full of BBQ smoke at Elk, Mommi brings a whole new vibe to this South London road. Claiming to be a unique combination of Latin flair and Japanese flavours, the Miami influenced restaurant takes on more than its role to serve you food. From a power ballad themed bottomless brunch to drinks on the dancefloor, Mommi will welcome you at any time of day.
Not only that but they support world-renowned artists with exclusive pieces donning the walls, a mural by Melbourne-based R-O-N-E being the feature. And if you’re in for a deal, well here’s the place to be. You can grab a whopping 40% of food during an early weekday dinner and can even “drink your age” on your birthday. So what you waiting for! Get your Gran down for some 5pm ceviche.
Just recently Mommi launched weekend live music sessions, another excuse to add a fusion packed set menu to their mix. With an abundance of menu options (each and every one 100% gluten free), Mommi really packs a punch without the high price tag. Naturally, I couldn’t resist experiencing four individual acts of Peru-vanese whilst nodding along to some acoustic Craig David.
Setting up for a night dominated the sea, two glasses of Prosecco were swiftly ordered. Shortly later, two more followed, enjoyed whilst watching the theatrics of the restaurant’s open kitchen.
We began with some promptly brought out nibbles; steamed edamame drizzled in sticky ginger soy and a mixture of plantain and sweet potato chips served with a cooling but tangy rocoto and pepper dip. A simple and pleasing introduction to what would follow.
Act 1; Raw
The opening act most definitely succeeded in setting the scene for the evening. I had silently squealed at the description of our first dish; tuna ceviche with watermelon, kumquat, lemon oil, basil and tomato. GIVE IT TO ME. It was as fresh as Will Smith in the early 90s minus the neon getup.
But the second dish stole the stage. A precisely placed bowl of Chirashi Sushi, otherwise known as raw salmon, sea asparagus and spring onion, orange and coriander, sesame, kampyo and ginger rice. Man that rice. Each spoonful made me wince with pleasure and then pain as the contents quickly diminished.
Act II; Robata Grill
I’m in, I’m committed. You’ve drawn me in with a dish more addictive than Sour Cream Pringles. What’s next?!
It was a selection from the Robata Grill, a trio of tapas we’d struggled to decide upon. This was perhaps the most tempting section of the menu with items such as cinnamon roasted chicken, miso salmon and smoked paprika octopus to contend with.
We narrowed it down to three, starting with a firm favourite; miso and aji panca marinated flat iron steak, sprinkled in Andean herb chimichurri and served alongside thickly cut cassava fries. Holy mother of cassava, those fries… I just can’t even, no words. A thick layer of crisp cuddling an inner fluffy cloud - as if roast potato had mated with a good ‘ole English chip.
Oh - I forgot about the flat iron steak whilst I dribbled over cassava fries. It was a gradient of pink and oh so juicy. If I HAD to be a completely finicky urgh-is-she-ever-not-picky critic, I’d say it was oh so slightly chewy. Just.
Next up was my weakness. Agave-cured belly bacon wrapped scallops, placed over smashed peas with a choclo and huacatay sauce. There are only so many things you can say to describe food. Put it this way; if you serve me perfectly cooked bacon and scallops well then I’m yours. Mommi, will you take me to be your loyal diner?
Last but only least by a fraction of the act was the flame-seared courgette and mushroom with red corn causa, chives and crushed cancha. The dish is also normally served with burnt yuzu butter but Mommi being a complete dietary requirement babe; they cut out the dairy for my guest.
That’s a whole lotta food and we’re only halfway… we thought. Time for an interlude! Like he just knew we needed a timeout, our waiter suggested a break, offering up some interval drinks as an alternative.
A cocktail, ah yes! That’ll do the trick. Let’s have a Kyandi; a stirred and freeze-strained mix of lemon vodka, sloe gin, cucumber syrup and peyshauda bitters, topped with an edible fruit roll up. Bittersweet and light on the food baby, although no eat me element was needed.
Rachel’s Aperol addiction had her ordering the La Romanza mixed with blood orange, lemon juice and rosemary and rhubarb syrup with a splash of cava NV Brut Reserve topping. Thumbs up.
Act III; Hot Kitchen
The penultimate course; so far ago had we ordered, we’d forgotten what was coming. “Fish and chips right?” we giggled.
Correct little Prosecco heads. Nikkei tempura fish and chips to be exact alongside wasabi mayo, spring onion ponzu and MORE CASSAVA FRIES THANK YOU SWEET BABY JESUS. You’ve probably guessed it by now. Yep we adored each bite.
The last of the savoury was among us. A plate of hazelnut topped flame-seared tuna drizzled in truffled onion ponzu, coriander, tomato and physalis, stacked on salted purple potatoes. Is it too predictable? Does it get boring when I love everything? Well I don’t care, because I literally cannot find a fault, and I like being picky. Sigh.
Who knew hazelnuts and tuna would be such a match?
The end of the journey. The lasting impression. The finishing statement that would see this indulgent performance come to a close.
There was only one option, a cinnamon and ginger roasted plum and pear ‘crumble’, created with puffed quinoa and hazelnuts, a side of salted caramel ice cream. I’m pretty sure the waiters started to worry about us at this point. Because there was serious moaning coming from our booth and it wasn’t because we’d become drunk college girls. No this food was epic. It was core shaking. SERIOUSLY I’M A BIT ANNOYED BY IT. You’ve challenged my descriptive abilities Mommi.
Oh yeah the live music. The food was so distracting I almost forgot to mention it. Whilst pulling sex faces over raw tuna and crispy cassava, we bobbed along to the incredible voice of Tim Cronin, an extremely talented singer/songwriter who Mommi have somehow snapped up to fill the restaurant with acoustic top hits. Ed Sheeran, Snoop and some unforgettable Daniel Bedingfield; this guy was cracking out some top covers. Since then I have come across his own tracks and confidently await his debut on Radio 1.
So there we have it. It’s rare you find a restaurant that not only makes you feel at home through kind attentive service but also matches with faultless food and a menu where any dish would please your taste buds. Take a bow Mommi and then come back for an encore because this standing ovation isn’t taking its seat anytime soon.
Our meal at Mommi was complimentary however despite my two rounds of cassava fries, my faultless review was in fact honest to the core and I will be returning to Mommi as fast as the Northern Line will carry me.