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The Dairy

Restaurants, British Clapham
4 out of 5 stars
(50user reviews)
 (© Jael Marschner)
© Jael Marschner
 (© Jael Marschner)
© Jael Marschner
 (© Jael Marschner)
© Jael Marschner
 (© Jael Marschner)
© Jael Marschner
 (© Jael Marschner)
© Jael Marschner

Time Out says

A food-led but very approachable and contemporary little bar and bistro, in Clapham, with dishes that surprise and delight.

Recycled furniture, workshop light fittings, a bar serving craft beers: it might look like another beer and burger joint, or maybe a New York Italian ‘small plates’ place, but the Dairy doesn’t churn out a formula.

Seasonal British ingredients are treated with a level of finesse that would be the envy of many Japanese restaurants. You realise this from the very start. A robata grill is used not just for grilling meats, but for smoking the butter (using applewood chips). A pat of this butter is served on a big beach pebble, with some of the Dairy’s wholesome own-made bread.

This sort of attention to detail permeates the kitchen’s menu. Beautifully crafted rustic plates are used to present simple dishes such as a warm salad of new potatoes, sorrel leaves and a generous amount of fresh truffle, grated at the table. A fillet of mackerel is charred on the grill then placed on fennel, with its complementary hint of anise flavour; the plate decorated with a smear of cucumber and a fresh dill frond. Beef short rib is slow cooked for 24 hours before being served with grilled spring onions and bone marrow.This is fancy cooking: not what you expect in a neighbourhood restaurant.

Chef Robin Gill and his wife Sarah used to work at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. They’ve also acquired plenty of experience at several other high-end restaurants in London and elsewhere. They both hail from Dublin, but are now Brixton locals, and, with their colleagues, have created this food-led, but very approachable and contemporary little bar and bistro. The dishes surprise and delight: we relished a pistachio and rapeseed cake flavoured with fresh orange and lime, served with a ricotta and sambuca ice-cream, redolent with Middle Eastern flavours.

You can just pop into the Dairy for a morning coffee (an Allpress roast), bar snacks, a cocktail or a glass of biodynamic wine. Located just off Clapham’s heaving high street, the bar is open until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights. The Dairy could milk it on its late licence alone. But this is Clapham uncommon, and in its modest way, the Dairy is a real but much more affordable alternative to high-end locals such as Trinity.



Address: 15 The Pavement
Transport: Tube: Clapham Common
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Users say (50)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:26
  • 4 star:6
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:12
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1 of 1 found helpful

Jay D i completely agree with you. I was really dissapointed with both the food and the sevice and thought it was very expensive for such small plates. There are so many other unique and delicious places to eat in South West London that offer fantastic value for money, i dont think they can justify such high prices. We also felt rushed from the minute we arrived and were left underwhelmed by the food and slightly baffled by the ordering process and the fact that the plates have to come out in a certain order. We also had to request a table away from the bar area when we arrived despite having a booking (Having a different opinion doesnt mean we should be relegated to nandos SA , perhaps we just want more than a sliver of meat for our money )

1 of 1 found helpful

The real deal folks...don't waste your money. I'm not sure who has been reviewing this place, but the food is far from delicious. Started off with a Nudja pate and potted salmon. The pate was made from a Spanish chorizo that shouldn't have been a pate. Clever idea serving it on a rock, but lacked any real substance. It just didn't work. The potted salmon had better flavour, but all the pebbles and the sardine can were a little much. And then to add herbs and random pickled vegetables, again flavours that do no compliment each other. Beet salad and asparagus (with hen egg) came out in a jumbled mess, but not as bad as the cod. The cod was salty and laid on top of charred leeks with splotches of sauce. And by splotches, it looked like smears of paint on a rock plate. Really, they need to simply the dish and let the ingredients shine. Rather, they have adopted the same framework for each dish and as a result many of them share the same flavour and feel. Too much for too little. The silver lining, good fresh baked bread and petit fours.

1 of 1 found helpful

Dinner was very technical but lacked flavour. Some nice ideas though. Also ultimately very expensive. Over £100 for 2. Also lacks atmosphere.

Highly recommend this place for a long dinner and chat. My friend and I went for the sharing tasting menu and it was fantastic. Lovely mix of flavours and the chicken pate was glorious! The service was superb too. 


I’ve walked past this cosy looking restaurant countless times and whenever I’ve tried to make a booking it’s always been full. However I am slightly last minute with these things so it seems to be fine if you book a week or so ahead.

The staff are lovely, they don’t rush you at all and are only too happy to give recommendations and even stop and have a little chat. This is such a rarity in London restaurants.

It’s a small plates menu with each dish costing approximately £9. They recommend 4 dishes per person so if you follow their rules it soon adds up to a pricey meal. We decided to go a bit more budget and ended up getting 3 each if you include desert and it seemed to be sufficiently filling. They use locally sourced ingredients where possible. It’s a small menu (if you’re vegetarian you have to ask to see the separate menu which I found a little odd. Meat eaters sometimes want to eat vegetarian meals too!) but everything on there is unusual and has a random mixture of combinations which seem to work together brilliantly. If I’m honest I had to Google so many of the ingredients that I’d never heard of. They also missed off the honey and fig on our Brie on sourdough toast but it still tasted great. All of the savoury courses tasted delightful and are perfect for sharing if you order a few between you. I’d give the deserts a miss, we tried two of them and unfortunately the unusual combinations didn’t work here.

They have a huge wine list (mostly also very pricey) and some decent looking cocktails too.

I’m not sure I’d go back again in too much of a hurry just because of how much the evening cost me in the end. However, the food was really good as was the service and the atmosphere, just avoid the deserts. 

This restaurant had been hyped up so much for me, however I left feeling quite disappointed. The menu looked interesting enough and the setting was lovely, however the service was haphazard and the food was mixed. Some dishes (bone marrow, truffled cheese) were very nice, and the homemade bread in a brown paper bag at the very beginning was a nice touch. However our main courses (lamb, and steak) were both quite disappointing. We ended up leaving still slightly hungry after 3 courses each, but feeling like we had spent a lot of money.


It’s really disappointing when you visit an establishment where, at the crux of it, the food is good, but everything else is a let down. We came for lunch and left thinking about Mc Donald’s afterwards…

What we had:

  • Fried Cacklebean egg, BBQ beef cheek, kale, crispy potato
  • El Chapo beans, poached egg, toasted seeds
  • Side of smashed avocado, ras-el-hanout
  • Virgin Mary
  • Orange juice

The beef cheek dish was very good. The beef was tender and the potatoes were really crispy; however the portion size was small, at best, given it was £10 and the boys left hungry. The beans were flavoursome and had a nice kick to them and went well with the smashed avocado I ordered as a side, but it really needed a slice of sourdough on the plate for some dipping action. The Virgin Mary, to put it politely, wasn’t very good at all unfortunately. It was very very salty and tasted a little fishy (anchovies perhaps?) and I actually swapped it for an orange juice in the end. The atmosphere and interior is nicely done, however the service was rather confused, with coffees coming twice and uncertain explanations of what items were on the menu. It’s a real shame when portion sizes and service ruins the experience as hopefully it is a different experience for the dinner service as there's plenty room for improvement.

Tip: sit outside to soak up some sun in good weather.

Good For: small groups, casual brunch/ lunch/ dinner, small dishes.

Excellent interesting food, good choice of raw wine. A little bit noisy maybe. Come back again.

I have no idea how this restaurant won the best local restaurant. Nice decor, but frankly, it should  not be the local restaurant in Claphan. Overpriced, small portions, boring service with no personality. I have been here a couple of times and never been a busy place. This "victory" is not clear. Timeout has lost a reader.

Quite frankly a waste of money! Poor and overprices food. Will definitely not recommend. If this is the best local restaurant, the rest should be rubbish. Never again in Clapham. 

Following the suggestion of Timeout I was here last night. It was supposed to be the best local restaurant. Damn! Never again! Are you kidding me? Is Timeout losing the brain ? Overpriced, small portion, bad customer service, nothing special. 

I am totally shocked, angered and upset after spending a dinner in this place.Reading the article this morning about the best local restaurant, I was excited to try this place. Avoid this restaurant (If it deserves this term!?!) like the plague, The food is poor, the service dyer, the health and safety knowledge shocking and the customer service non existent. I think I could have got a better meal in a old peoples home. Definitely, Timeout has lost the credibility.

nice ideas but way too expensive for such tiny portions

Delicious food, every mouthful is exciting, especially the ice cream with chocolate

Delicious food and their home made gluten free bread is the best we've ever tasted.

Outstanding - inventive & delicious food, but no pretentious atmosphere, super relaxed & friendly.

I will give this place 5 stars purely because of the quality of the food and not the quantity. You are likely to leave hungrier than when you arrived, but I'm thinking this might be the raison d'etre behind its set-up. Much has been said about the Dairy and the food.  when i went there the meal was excellent but it left us out of pocket as we originally didn't realise that it was a tapas style place. It would be great to improve the quantity of the food cos if you're serving such delicious fare then it should be worth the high price paid by punters. But I have to say that this is the kind of 'I want to be seen' restaurant that Clapham is famous for and for much of the time the place is full of pretentious posers. But hey if it means making more money for the owners then great! 

If I could give NO STARS I would! Not a single redeeming factor! Shocking service from rude and inattentive waiting staff. The food was cold. I will not be returning and would not recommend anyone else to subject themselves to such a poor dining experience!!

I was immensely disappointed with my first visit to the dairy today. I had looked forward to this for some time, but:

As other readers have stated - the plates are ridiculously small for the very high prices. Was it delicious - yes absolutely. But I left hungry after we ordered everything on the vegetarian menu plus desert. The wine was ok - but nothing special and for £100 for two I would expect to be well fed. Our main waiter offered great service - but the other waiters hovering around to check whether we were finished to remove our plates were intrusive. This place has everything to be fantastic - but I felt like I was being taken for a delicious but overpriced ride...


The laid-back, casual atmosphere of The Dairy clashes slightly with the sophistication of the menu and pricing which is why I believe there are so many poor reviews below. I went as a special occasion treat, not just another casual meal in Clapham, and therefore I was prepared for what I got: great food, great service and, in my opinion, absolute value for money. We asked the waiter for advice on the menu - with small plates, we didn't want to order too much off the bat. The menu is divided into garden, sea and land and dishes change based on seasonal produce. We had seven plates in total, all were delicious, but particularly the chicken and pork dishes from the 'land' menu; the chicken... I have no words apart from to-die-for. It was the perfect little taster menu followed off by a chocolate lovers dream to share for dessert and then a special complimentary dessert for our special occasion. The perfect ending. I should mention, we also got little complimentary tasters along the way. The bill came and with a bottle of wine, it obviously wasn't cheap but for the food, the service, the atmosphere and little surprises of flavour throughout, it's well worth it.


Have to agree with other reviews on here. Although the food was nice, it was not worth the extortionate prices and the plates were tiny. As it is so busy, tables are quite cramped but the atmosphere is still nice. It's not really for me as no dish even stuck out in my mind and they all lacked any distinct flavour. Glad to have tried it but wouldn't go back!


Amazing!  The tasting menu with wine pairing is fantastic.  The staff are knowledgeable on all dishes and were happy to answer any questions that we had.  £45 pp for the tasting menu is great value!  Will be back again soon.

Recently dined here in a group of four and booked the Tasting Menu.  Not all dishes went down well with everyone, but for me, it was wonderful - great service with knowledgeable and friendly staff, interesting scrumptious dishes that you could spruce up with truffles for a little extra, or try a slightly different version etc.  We also had the paired wines;  my poor BF had a stinking cold so he said a lot of the experience was wasted on him, but I can recommend the Tasting Menu highly - it makes dinner a slow, casual, long affair with deliciousness and relaxation on the menu.  However, I do agree that it is just a tad overpriced;  the dishes are on the small side, and I think they're not so good to be in the haute cuisine price range of a Michelin starred restaurant just yet.  That said, there are more hearty dishes from the usual menu, so that's probably your best bet.  SJP

Don't go, food  is over priced and service is bad. They also made a mistake on our bill, twice, and no apologies. Rude.

Had a really good meal here on Saturday, we managed to ring up and book a table that morning, which was rather lucky. We ended up getting the tasting menu and sharing a flight of wine, and this staff didn't mind this at all, even bringing us a complimentary cocktail so we both had drinks to begin with. The first few courses were amazing, with each texture and taste complementing each other entirely. The presentation was also rather fun - with the bread for the pate turning up in a special warmed bag, fresh from the oven. However, by the fish course, when we asked for more information on the rather strange wine that had been served, the staff seemed less eager to explain things (it was getting busier) and the main 2 courses did not live up to the dizzying heights of the first. The desserts were interesting and tasty too, but by that point we were rather full - the tasting menu is not something to - undertake light-heartedly! All in all a great meal though, nice atmosphere, friendly people and, I would encourage you to go purely just to feast on the heavenly chicken liver pate dish - worth a second visit alone!

I have no idea how this restaurant got so many good reviews? The style is Tapas which is great, however, charging 10.00 pounds for 2 bites of fish is not! Not only was each dish over priced, each dish is also smothered in a creamy sauce. So if you like good clean high end produce with fresh flavours this is not the restaurant for you. They have a nice idea of serving the bread in a rustic bag, but sadly, even the bread was tasteless!

Highly recommend going for the tasting menu! Traditionally British, honest cuisine served on a range of trendy, funky and interesting plates and slates. With friendly, personal service the staff are passionate about the food they serve and tell you about it's origin. I was very pleased to hear that some of the produce we ate was grown by the chefs themselves. A real culinary experience and a fantastic afternoon / evening out!

Friday night rolled and tired from work our initial excitement for dinner at The Dairy was beginning to wane to the point I was beginning to wish I'd opted for a restaurant with that could have accommodated us on a Saturday. We arrived early and were seated in seconds as though they had been expecting us. The setting is relaxed and warm with a good atmosphere and my mood started to warm towards The Dairy my mood warmed more when they gave us a complimentary Amuse-bouche which was both unexpected and delicious. The waitress then explained how to order and that each dish would be of starter size so to order two - three each before bringing us some homemade bread with smoked butter which again was of the highest standard. We then ordered two snacks of chicken liver moose and pork terrine which sublime both tasty and light. This was followed by cod and mussels in an oyster sauce coupled with a dish of artichokes and hens egg which again were of the highest standard. At this point I felt the food could not get any better but then came the Venison with beet root and blackberries which was one of the best dishes I've had all year and I'm sorry to say overshadowed an excellent pork dish. We finished with cheese and a desert of salted caramel biscuits and malted barley ice-cream which were both excellent in particular the salted caramel biscuit. Finally just as we'd finished and our faces had turned upside down at the fact that no more food would be served the waitress arrived with a little tin containing two mini donuts, two pieces of short bread and two apple jellies which brought a glorious end to a truly excellent meal leaving us to ponder when we could next come back and with a bill amounting to £88 it felt like terrific value for the standard of food on offer. All that is left to say is book now before they rise in prices as this cooking at its very best.

Having read both good and bad reviews I began to wish I hadn't chosen this for lunch. The look and concept is quite similar to Ollie Dabbous, without wishing to detract from The Dairy. You are advised that the dishes are small but the point is the quality of cooking and flavours are superb, allowing you to taste more. Unequalled quality of ingredients, great cooking and flavour marrying is a hit. Can't wait to go back and try taster menu. As for value, quality dishes and cooking with wine with lunch at £70 is a steal. Paid more f or mu ch worse is named restaurants. Somewhere to divide but the food speaks for its self, superb.

Agree with Julian completely.. Very bad service. .. Food ok but definitely not worth recommending ... Small portions.. I mean I get tapas but usually tapas dishes aren't 10 quid a head .. Ad it's got nothing to do with some earlier comments about going to Nandos or getting a kebab.. Unfortunately that's what one has to do after such a light meal here No good value for money !

Food ok.. Rubbish service ... Very small portions .. Quite frankly a waste of money.. Better off to try a proper restaurant in the west end ... Not al all impressed. Will definitely not recommend.

Quality of food excellent.... Guaranteed this year you will go on the M guide.. Will be surprised if you don't .. Good Service ..... Agree with other reviews about the portion sizes but that is not your concept and I wouldn't be heed.. All in all .. Excellent .. Will definitely recommend to the foodies and people who appreciate food... All the best..

I am not sure why some reviewers here have been so surprised by the price of The Diary. Dishes start from about £6.50 to £10 per dish, which is commensurate with the average price of a starter in most restaurants, but what you get is food that is far from average. Yes, the size of the dishes are also starter size, but this is the uniqueness of The Diary - it is modern English served tapas style. The food is rich and full of flavour, and I would suggest that for those who are very hungry and prioritise filling their stomachs rather than pleasing their palates go somewhere else. This is a place for people who enjoy tasting new and distinctive flavours and textures, something that is rather rare in the ubiquitous world of restaurants these days. It takes just as much effort, skill and energy to produce something in smaller quantities, which is why the Diary should be appreciated for this offering - the opportunity to try more new things. If your definition of value for money is in the amount of food you are served and how full you feel afterwards, there is a kebab shop across the street.

We were very excited about a new independent restaurant and keen to try this out but left after a 25 minute experience, hungry and £90 worse off (for 3 people). Firstly we were steered to a bar table, which have backless stools - not conducive to a leisurely meal. On asking for a restaurant table, our server paused and said they were set up for 4 - even though we had booked an early table for 3. We were then given a table for 2 with an extra chair. Being extremely hungry we asked for bread, and were nudged in the direction of sharing a potted salmon with bread. Assuming there was no bread, we ordered this which turned out to be 3 tiny tiny pieces of bread and salmon in a mock sardine tin - a fiver. We were then told that the menu was small plates and 3 each should be ordered - one veg, one fish, one meat. At around £10 each this pushed the price way up for the meal - without dessert or drinks even being in the picture yet. We were then approached again and told to order 3 plates. Not wanting to go for the full splash-out on a weeknight we asked if we could have 2 each, delivered together, which the server seemed confused about and asked chef, who agreed to let us eat this way. At this point we were brought some bread!!!!! Why we couldn't have had this when we asked is a question I would raise... Lovely bread, though, beautifully presented, but TINY! Our plates then turned up and the meat was amazing - beautifully flavoured and cooked - but oh so TINY! My asparagus was topped with an egg, which was so undercooked as to be impossible to scoop off the plate (especially with a fork!) The food, plus one glass of wine each, one cocktail (a lovely Paddy's Fashioned) equalled £90 which felt extremely expensive. I understand there is a concept here, but this is not explained on the web site (the fact that it is small plates is not mentioned), and the ordering guide from staff felt more like an instruction rather than an enthusiastic and passionate explanation of the dining experience to come (for a restaurant with, as we diiscovered, a central theme and concept, enthusiasm from staff was sadly very thin on the ground). The meat and bread (when it came!) were lovely, but the prices are very top end for small plates, despite the pretty pebble-based presentation. Perhaps a case of 'concept over customer' which is a shame...

Just like the last review, it is rare that I feel compelled to write a review on restaurants although my experience of The Dairy is a little different. Although the attention to detail on the food was good and the meal itself was enjoyable, I had met a friend there for lunch and advised the waitress we were there for a quick lunch so ordered two dishes each (a 'Garden' dish and a 'Land' dish). We were advised we should order at least 3 dishes from the menu just like tapas so presumed it would all come together so you could pick from each dish - this is where lies the problem for me. Two dishes of just greens (ie beans, peas, asparagus etc) finished this, then two fish dishes finished and then two meat dishes, it felt very disjointed and had to rush. Therefore, overall I was not impressed with the advice given to what should have been ordered, this would have been fine if there were more of us and we we had more time, ie later in the day. For lunch it was a 'no no' for me but will rate it 4 star as food separately was enjoyable and the staff attentive. I like the concept behind it otherwise would have given 3 stars - dinner menu not right for a quick lunch!!!

It is rare that I feel compelled to write a review after a meal out, but the I'm making an exception for the The Dairy. The food was incredibly inventive with so much attention to detail - and just packed with different delicious flavours; it was like nothing we had had before. And it just kept coming. The salt caramel, chocolate, and malt ice cream was just incredible - and thank god the waitress convinced us not to by-pass desert! The staff were very nice and attentive - and we'll definitely be going back. It is clear that the food is at the centre of this restaurant which is really refreshing.

This place thoroughly deserves a five star rating in all catagories. The staff are knowledgeable, friendly, efficient and brilliant at what they do. The food was not only beautifully and quirkily presented the sauces were to die for and the foods themselves exquisitly cooked. We came up from Wiltshire to take our son out for his 22nd birthday. Even though they were fully booked they managed to squeeze us in when I explained it was his birthday. As an acting student living and studying only a few streets away he will be back often as will we when in London.

My first visit to the The Diary today and it will certainly now be my last! A brilliant refreshing restaurant full of quirky tones.....from the bars stools ( old metal milk crates welded together with a seat pad to the way they serve the salmon pate in a small anchovy tin.The mac and cheese with ham hock was creamy hot and salty - just how I like it! We could not get into the restaurant so perched on the wooded tables in the bar. Everything we ate was interesting ,well presented and thoughtfully put together in taste as well as presentation.The coffee was delicious and served in a glass which I love. There are so many things that i liked about this place , that I need to go back to look again! So I am on the wait list for wednesday night as well as a table well and truly booked for the following week! Its lovely to see an independent restaurant in Clapham, as much as I like the chains ( you know what you are getting) its so very refreshing to see something TOTALLY different! I am sure the owners will do very well and I wish them the very best of luck,its a tough job and unless you have been there and done it you would never know - the general public are an unforgiving lot at the best of times!!!

This is a new, fresh and real treat for claphamites. The food is inspired, different and delivered by friendly and attentive staff (often the chefs themselves) who took the time to explain each dish and the thought process behind it. The dishes are presented in such an interesting way that you would be forgiven for mistaken it for a west end restaurant and not something on clapham pavement. I will certainly be recommending this to friends and no doubt frequenting it on a regular basis. Thank you for taking such good care of us today Rob & Sarah and feeding us to the brink :) Great review and does it justice!

I can't understand how someone rated this place 1 star? It's hard to believe that Joe was eating in the same restaurant as I ate in. Incredible food, friendly service, and I love the Noma touch of the chefs bringing the food to the tables so the diners have plenty of opportunity to interact with them. There wasn't a single dud in the dishes we had (and we covered a good 70% of the menu). The great bread and wood smoked butter were examples of the attention to detail which lifts the Dairy well above its casual neighbourhood feel and very reasonable price-point.

Beautiful dishes, friendly staff, and great prices for delicious ingredients. Went there for lunch the other day and left very impressed. Will definitely be back along with friends. Wonderful restaurant, not one complaint! Congratulations to the owners!

Went for a long Saturday lunch recently with 4 others. This is such a great addition to Clapham. Quite sophisticated food but served in a really relaxed environment. As there was a few of us we ordered lots of small plates and shared, and every single dish was great. The short rib dish and the bantom egg were my favourites and the dessert of salted caramel with biscuit and ice-cream was delicious! Service was v. good. Lunch turned into cocktails at the bar....all in all it was a great day at the Dairy.

Had a fantastic meal here. Imaginative dishes for a vegetarian, and the chef even made an off-menu vegetarian creation for me. The desserts are excellent; I would recommend the salted caramel. Good buzz for a Saturday night, with a varied selection of well priced wines. Looking forward to my next meal there - hope the salted caramel is still on the menu the next time I visit.

Big group of us had a lovely lunch there last week - superb dishes kept coming and the staff were friendly and attentive. I really liked the quirky decorations and it's clear that a lot of thought has gone into the little things. Will definitely be going back!

Amazing food, atmosphere, music, faults! such a great addition to S.London

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