For locals of certain age, this corner site with forever be La Finca. For two decades it was the place all south London folk came to learn flamenco, quaff sangria and put away some tapas. More recently it was bought by Rennaissance Inns, who’ve been turning ailing south London pub sites into smart, British-focused gastropubs; among them are Avalon in Balham, and Stonhouse and Abbeville in Clapham. For a while they ran this La Finca site as theWhite Hart pub, but now they’ve given it a makeover and new direction as the Tommyfield gastropub.
Food’s to the fore. Blackboards outside the pub proclaim its ethos: the fish is sustainable ‘where possible’. More blackboards inside list the day’s specials, which are succinctly organised under the headings ‘Fish – Pies – Grill’. Coley (aka saithe), a fish which the Marine Stewardship Council and others are proposing as an alternative to the likes of cod, appears battered with fat chips (£9); nice, crisp batter, though its flesh isn’t as firm-textured as cod (few fishes’ are).
The starter of ‘British meat board’ (£7) follows the current trend for robust flavours and British charcuterie, and although decent, this is no Harwood Arms or Bull & Last (the standards by which others should be measured). The scotch egg was overcooked and dry, and for some reason served cut in two, but the sausage roll was agreeably moist and fatty. The home-made piccalilli was nice touch.
Meat’s a big feature of the menu too, and although the sirloin steak was correctly rare, it was very thin-cut. Puds include sticky toffee pudding and jam roly poly with custard.
Tommyfield’s a good all-rounder, with enthusiastic and cheerful staff, a brief choice of proper real ales (Timothy Taylor Landlord and Sharp’s Doom Bar) and a wine list that’s decent too – including Spain’s most iconic style, red rioja. On our visit the place was buzzing with the kind of energy not seen since La Finca’s early days.