i’m not a big fan of traditional french food so whenever someone raves about a french restaurant i’m usually looking for the get-out-clause that means we can go somewhere else.
however, this week i was a brave girl when my friend john suggested meeting up at gastro in clapham. gastro is often described as “a piece of france in south london” or an “authentically french dining experience.” for me, up until now, it’s been a place which does ridiculously strong coffee (i’m a coffee-wimp), has french-speaking staff and, despite the lovely decor, especially the rustic square wooden table that would be great for a gang of 10-12 friends, not somewhere i’ve wanted to eat.
i’m glad i was persuaded. john and i both decided to have two starters – he kicked off with fresh crab and followed it with moules et frites (we ordered extra béarnaise sauce which was good). my starter was an assiette of pork, followed by the same fresh crab.
everything was superb – the crabs were fresh, large and full of sweet flesh. most of which i managed to pick out (occasionally dipping it into the accompanying mustard mayonnaise) but i did have to apologise to a nearby diner whose bag ended up as the receptacle for a runaway hairy crab leg, which i cracked without paying enough attention. oops!
my pork assiette was a fabulously meaty way to start the meal – slices of garlicky cured sausage, a rustic pate plus mounds of fabulous rillettes, all accompanied by cornichons and a basket of beautiful mixed fresh breads (which was replaced without extra charge as we neared the bottom).
gastro is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination – the service was slow and the tables of smokers scattered around the restaurant was an unpleasant distraction – but for fresh seafood (they have a tank from which you can select your lobster) in an interesting, relaxed environment i’d happily go back. and if you’re local and just fancy a drink - the rose was perfect for a sunny spring evening.
67 Venn Street, Clapham, London, SW4 0BD
020 7627 0222