Each week Sam and I try to set one evening aside to spend with each other, doing something nice like going to dinner or to the local cinema. This week, it was my ‘date night’ which meant it would most definitely involve food and that we were probably going for dinner. It took me over a week of reading restaurant reviews and downloading menus before deciding on where to take Sam as I’m so indecisive when it comes to food (there’s too many good options).
I already had in mind a couple of local restaurants and struggled to pick between Four O Nine in Clapham and Harrison’s in Balham, both had equally good reviews and lovely sounding menus. In the end I decided to book a table at Four O Nine because of their fantastically good value menu. We usually try to keep date night around £30 and because this wasn’t a special occasion, this menu seemed like a good option. I was surprised to find the menu offered so much choice and with a generous 50% off we couldn’t go wrong.
Situated just across from Clapham North station, Four O Nine is fairly hard to find with just a small menu plaque next to what looked like a back door. We rang the buzzer and was told to make our way up the stairs which was actually through the back door and up a metal staircase in which we had to step over packs of tortilla chips and tubs of ingredients, not the best start. However, this did create a sense of exclusiveness and the entrance held no similarities to the inside of the restaurant. We were particularly impressed by the cosiness and relaxing atmosphere of the restaurant as at 7pm on a Thursday evening we were the only ones in the restaurant but we didn’t feel awkward at all. After an hour or so, it became full, mostly of couples enjoying a romantic dinner.
We ordered a glass of wine each which were presented with two canapés (foie gras with crisp bread and salmon with beetroot) on a slate which I thought was a lovely touch. Sam ordered roast chicken breast with savoy cabbage, celeriac & swede while I went for the roast hake with basil mascarpone, kale, poached cherry tomato & wild mushroom. Both mains were presented well and portion sizes were adequate. I was a little worried about how Sam would feel as he didn’t order a side dish because none seemed to go with chicken, but there was a good amount of meat on his plate. My fish was beautifully cooked with the skin lightly fried which gave it a delicious crisp and I felt no need to remove the skin like I usually do. The basil mascarpone was rich and creamy and there was just the right amount to eat with the whole fish without it overpowering the flavours from the mushrooms and tomato. I had a taste of Sam’s chicken which was swimming in a really great tasting sauce. I used my slice of currant bread to mop up the rest of my fishy sauce which although unusual, the two flavours complimented each other well.
We asked if we could wait a while before ordering dessert and were left to ourselves for a good half an hour or so. For dessert Sam ordered lemon tart with mascarpone which he said was very nice. The portion size was a little on the small size but he said he felt satisfied after finishing. I ordered the chocolate tart with banana and honey sauce. I really liked the sound of the salted caramel ice cream which is served with the apple and pear crumble on the À la Carte menu so I cheekily asked for a scoop of that too! The chocolate tart was tasty but nothing to write home about. The banana and honey sauce on the other hand, made this dish into something special with its smooth sweetness. The salted caramel ice cream was a wise choice and went well with the tart when the sauce became too much.
Overall the food was good, it wasn’t jaw-dropping like that found in some other restaurants like The Kilted Chef but I had no complaints and would happily return. The service at Four O Nine was good and although we didn’t feel rushed at all, we had a little trouble trying to catch the waiter’s eye to ask for our bill. The bill came to £36 including service for two courses and a drink which in my eyes was a steal. We were also given two tasty chocolate truffles with our bill which again, I thought was a nice touch.
For me, its the little things like this which makes my dining experience a happy one. Four O Nine is a cute little restaurant hidden away just off the main street, the low lighting is relaxing and their extensive cocktail menu makes this the perfect place for a date or dinner with friends. At weekends the dining tables are removed at 11pm and the bar stays open until 3am with live music and plenty of cocktails. This really is an enjoyable place to spend the whole evening.
Living life, loving cake,