Jon Watt, Wednesday 23 March 2011
I can think of few parts of south London that are more maligned than Streatham.
Once a glittering example of Victorian suburbia, Streatham High Road was recently voted ‘worst street in Britain.’ Yet, look more closely and you’ll find the area is in fact blessed with some remarkable architectural gems. One such diamond in the rough is The Manor Arms. This sprawling Edwardian public house has recently been extensively refurbished and restored to a state of grandeur that I doubt it experienced in its first life. Dotted around the dark wood interior are evocative period features that have clearly been sourced with thought and care - there’s a swivel armchair, lamp and roll-top desk that look like they’ve been lifted from Rudyard Kipling’s study. In short, this is a place that one feels comfortable spending time in. As such it’s essential that the food is similarly enticing and one look at the menu confirms that the eclectic English furnishings are complemented by an equally patriotic array of food. There is also something rather nostalgic about the dishes on offer, so a starter of quails’ eggs in dill sauce arrives cleverly presented like a Scotch egg (and what could be more period than that?!). Then there’s a duck terrine that’s so fruity and rich that it reminds one of a traditional Christmas stuffing.
The menu is littered with reminders of the ingredients’ British origins: the shrimp is from Morecambe Bay, the beef from Bannockburn and the cheese for the marcaroni is from a Mrs Kirkham of Lancashire (whoever she may be?) Where the pork for the bacon chop was from, I never discovered but it was another highly original English dish that delighted with deep smoked flavours and a moreish side of hash black pudding.
The Manor Arms has cultivated an exciting and intriguing menu that not only challenges and twists conventional English dishes, but also reminds us of a time when furniture was made with dark wood, all animals were free-range and Streatham was a destination suburb.
Review by: Jon Watt
The Manor Arms 13 Mitcham Lane, London SW16 6LQ www.themanorarms.com