I'm puzzled by the comments. I understand the irritation when a boozer gets made over into something else but if the best thing about the old Clarence was the footy table then what's to complain about? And there's no conceivable way you could call the refurbed Clarence a gastropub unless you're the sort of person who thinks any pub that dares to print a menu has "gone gastro". The truth is that the Clarence is a gem. It's small and bright while still being cosy. The bar staff are super-friendly. The pizzas are fantastic and the rest of the menu (bar snacks, burgers, nachos, macarone cheese) is quirky and good for veggies. There's an awesome selection of beers and the music is interesting in the best possible way. The comment about it being a bit like a youth club has some truth to it but I think that's the key to its charm. The Clarence is utterly unpretentious and that's extremely rare.
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Fri Mar 25 2011
The Capital Pub Co have done a spiffing job fixing up ailing pubs, many in up-and-coming corners of south London, and turning them into destinations for the new gentry of their neighbourhoods. The five-year-old Clarence was already on their impressive roll-call (currently 30 or so), but has just reopened after a major makeover.
The new Clarence is now like a set from one of those ‘cash-in quick by tarting up your home’ TV shows, with bright colours, more light, better loos, table lamps shaped like ceramic dogs (really), and a huge gas-fired pizza oven.
The pizzas are thin, crisp and come with an interesting choice of toppings, and are arguably better than those at Ciullo’s, Balham’s more established pizzeria-trattoria just up the road. Our chorizo and salami had generous toppings, though they had not melded into the base as they ideally should. From noon-4pm Monday-Friday, all food is 25 per cent off the menu price.
Yet The Clarence is still, at heart, a bar. The beers include their brews such as the light-bodied Bonobo ale (brewed at sister pub The Florence in Herne Hill:?£3.40 a pint and 4.5 per cent abv), the golden ale called Weasel (4.5 per cent), and a wheat beer called Beaver (4.8 per cent abv). Guest ales rotate between Adnams and Sharp’s. The wine selection’s broad enough for most tastes.
On our visits, the contrast between weekday lunchtimes (near-empty), and evenings (rammed) has been striking. The typical Clarencegoer appears to be youngish, groovyish and more up-for-it than the regulars of the nearby Devonshire or Bedford, while not being quite as self-regarding as a Balham Bowls Club habitué. Real-ale drinkers will be among its fans, provided their discussions of American hops and sastuma notes can be heard over the chatter of noisy imbibers.
Clarence 90-92 Balham High Rd
- Venue phone:
020 8772 1155
- Venue website:
- Opening hours:
noon-midnight Mon-Thur, noon-2am Fri, 11-2am Sat, 11am-midnight Sun
Tube: Balham tube/rail
Meal for two with wine and service: around £40
- 90-92 Balham High Rd
- 020 8772 1155
- 90-92 Balham High Rd
Average User Rating
2.3 / 5
- 5 star:0
- 4 star:1
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:3
- 1 star:1
Truly terrible refurb. Great pub that has been made into a poor, generic gastro pub ( ironically the only decent food is its pizzas). Balham lost its soul when this place refurbed. I wont be going to "Hangoverville"(as the mural says) at the Clarence.
I agree Andy, the footy table was a key reason to to to the old Clarence, now offer little in terms of a good pub that The Devonshire doesn't or in quirkyness which the BBC bar does better. Sorry Clarence you've not hit the mark here
It's true that the pizzas in the new Clarence are very nice, but saying that they are better than the ones in Cuillos is clearly nonsense. In the refurbishment, the Clarence has got rid of a lot of its more comfortable seating and replaced it with canteen-style tables and chairs which are just too close together. And then there's that mural. Maybe it works better in the evenings when people are there to take the bus to Hangoverville. But when I'm there for a quiet weekend lunch it just makes the place look like a youth club.