It might not look like much on the outside but Fields is the common’s best café by a jogger’s mile.
This park café is one of three on Clapham Common, and is perhaps the least attractive – a bleak-looking concrete box sited between a busy road and skateboard park, with sneakers dangling from the connecting power lines. But it’s the common’s best café by a jogger’s mile.
After changing tenants more often than the Long Pond’s ducks have eaten crusts for dinner, this café finally has some proper culinary credentials. It’s been taken over by the people behind the uber-trendy M1lk café in Balham – a joint so achingly fashionable it can’t even spell its own name properly.
Fields’s modestly furnished room belies a menu of great invention. Braised oxtail is served on sourdough toast with pickled shiitake mushrooms and basil leaves – powerfully flavoured and rich, with a strong star anise note to the slow-cooked meat. Burnt plum is served with Cornish cream, wet walnut and muscat grapes. More conventional dishes such as poached eggs on sourdough toast are jazzed up with a smear of espresso-infused thick ‘hollandaise’ and smoked salmon.
If you’re just popping in for a snack, or to sit outside on the large decked area, light bites include a yeasty, peat-smoked lardy cake, cooked in a tiny bundt tin, or big Anzac biscuits.
The drinks list isn’t too shabby either. Great coffee is made with either Workshop espresso or Koppi filter, plus there’s Kernel table beer and even ‘natural’ wines by the glass.
This may be the park café graduating from the playground, but kids are still welcome; one tot was tucking into her eggs on toast with glee on our visit. For the well-bred moppets of SW4, Fields is quite Elysian.
By Guy Dimond