by Phil Clarke
London SW4 9DE
As summer edges closer, the oasis of greenery packed with British Military Fitness freaks and Aussies in bikinis playing ultimate Frisbee that is Clapham Common exerts its pull over South Londoners. Rather than settling down with a tin of warm Heineken while charcoaling chipolatas on a disposable barbecue, why not take it up a notch?
The Windmill, halfway down the east side of the Common, is a gin palace-esque institution dating back to the 1790s. They’re already beach body ready for the season with a summer terrace, burger shack and a series of dining rooms.
Your first choice if you’re paying a visit is inside or out? Astronomy has dealt The Windmill a poor hand as the terrace faces east, meaning that you will be in the shade in the late afternoon and evening, but the burgers make up for it. Burger Shack is a Youngs Pubs speciality and basically means they’ve whacked down a shed and they’re serving burgers out of it.
I gobbled down the classic, served in a soft bun (perhaps too soft, mine disintegrated) and comes with cheese, ale onions and a bit of lettuce and mayo.
Craving heating so heading indoors, the interior is classic gastro pub, with a bar stretching through most of the rooms and serving a wide range of beers and cider on tap. The main action takes place in a cavernous dining room, with a sort of ante conservatory tagged on the side where I went for a Ploughman’s Sharer.
Word from the wise: there is a lot of food here. The highlights are the scotch egg and the sausage roll. Hands down one of the best, runny, perfectly seasoned scotch eggs in London (and I say this as a regular at the annual scotch egg awards), though a shame it’s not individually on the menu as a side. The sausage roll was perfectly pitched. The bread (basically toast) doesn’t come with butter, which is very mildly irritating, but is served with excellent cheddar and ham and very vinegary pickled onions.
To wash it down, the house white is a very reasonable Australian Deakin Estate Viognier.
Leaving just in time to catch the sunset across the Common I couldn’t help reflecting that if this is how well ploughmen eat, then get me a combine harvester, I’m changing jobs.