When is a “secret hideaway” not a secret? Perhaps when there is a large chalkboard sign outside pointing to it. Let’s just say it is not that hard to find out where The Blind Tiger is and 1920’s prohibition officers would be unlikely to be fooled but once tucked away inside it is easy to pretend you are in the type of place to indulge in “illicit dining and forbidden beverages”. If you can ignore the sign and swallow your feelings of idiocy ask at the gate in Clapham to see the blind tiger. A little hatch opens, a pair of eyes peer out and suddenly you are whisked inside to a restaurant lit with candles, slung with drapes and exuding a Moulin Rouge feel.
I visited for my book club christmas party (always a boozy affair) and we plumped for the Christmas menu of three courses matched with cocktails for £37.50. We were not the only ones celebrating and the place was full with people toasting the festive season. By reason of demand alone Christmas menus are often a complete rip-off forcing you to pay through the nose, however Marek Novak, the chef at The Blind Tiger admirably resists the temptation. To start Christmas fish stew was not particularly Christmassy but all the better for it. Thick and luscious and with incredible depth of flavour this soup was a marvel which had everyone who had not ordered it in fits of jealousy. I also enjoyed the venison which was presented as lightly seared medallions, perfectly cooked to a blush pink state and teamed with foccacia and watercress.
Traditional turkey was on offer of course but a better option was the crisp skinned turbot steak which sat atop a pool of almost soup like parsnip and sundried tomato puree and chanterelle mushrooms. The book club nearly came to blows over the duck leg served as a roulade with chestnut stuffing and lashings of red cabbage and potato dumplings.
Desserts do not reach such heights. The sugar rimmed cocktail to accompany our dessert was actually rimmed with salt instead. Our waiter apologised and rectified the situation however it is hard to recover from sucking on a salty glass. Dessert of pear tartin with a caramalised almond crumble read better on the menu than it looked in real life due to the teeny-tiny size of the tartin. The cheese plate was also on the dull side and erred on fridge cold.
Duck leg roulade
The somewhat mediocre end to the meal was only really obvious in light of the high standards throughout. Luckily the location of The Blind Tiger is not too hard to find as you don’t want to miss out on cooking of this calibre and the fun speakeasy atmosphere which included a live jazz singer crooning in the background during part of our meal. If you are wondering where the blind tiger comes into all of this apparently when people originally visited real speakeasy type places back in 1920’s America they used to lie and say they were going to see a blind tiger or something equally ridiculous.
Essentials: The Blind Tiger, Secret address, Clapham SW8 (Ph 0207 498 0974) Tube: Clapham Common