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Review: Lamberts Restaurant – Fine British Food in Balham

BY Boon Koh
Published 30 January 2011
Our Review Rating: 3 out of 10 stars

I’ve recently been house hunting for a place of my own and of course, good food in the area is a necessity of mine. It was how I ended up looking around Balham in South London, despite currently living in North London!

9th Sept 2011 EDIT: We went back here again on a Tuesday evening, and found the meal qjuite disappointing. Despite a more than half empty restaurant, our main courses took more than half an hour after we finished our starters – I suspect the kitchen forgot our order. Furthermore, after enquiring where our food was, it took another further 10 minutes for more complimentary bread to be brought (and two measley slices at that!). When the food arrived, although the fish was warm, the crushed potatoes were cold. The final kick in the teeth was when the bill came – and there was still a 12.5% discretionary charge still attached.

Balham boasts some really good cafes, independent shops, and two big good supermarkets in the form of Waitrose and Sainsburys. And now, I can add Lamberts Restaurant to the list of foodie places that will keep me sustained if I move to Balham.

My visit to Lamberts came entirely courtesy of KGBDeals, which coincidentally ran a deal for a 3 course meal at Lamberts while I was in the midst of house hunting. I signed up for the deal without hesitation – if I’m going to have to have lunch in the area on a Saturday afternoon, why not try Lamberts Restaurant?

Lamberts is a very British restaurant, and the menu reflects that. However, compared to British restaurants in the City, Lamberts is very down to earth, and their 3 course lunch set menu reflected that. Not many overseas ingredients or exotic cooking techniques, just good traditional British ingredients and flavours.

Both myself and Evelyn went for the cauliflower soup with smoked haddock and fried quail’s egg, which came very simply presented but elegantly. The smoked haddock, to my surprise, was actually a mini smoked haddock fishcake, topped with a sunny-side up pan fried quail’s egg with a tad too much pepper. The cauliflower soup was rich and creamy, and consistently smooth. A very well executed starter.

For the main course, Evelyn had the six hour pork belly, sage roast potatoes, braised savoy and grain mustard. However, the pork belly was disappointingly very chewy and dry. As an amateur chef and a big fan of roast pork, I was extremely disappointed when I was given a piece to try. Even with my basic cooking skills and mediocre rental apartment oven, I have made much better pork belly. The crackling though, on the roast pork, was the redeeming factor, crispy and well seasoned and not burnt.

I myself decided to have the pollock fillet, potato and salsify broth and crispy squid for my main course.  The pollock fillet was very well cooked, and the fish fillet used was very fresh. The salsify in broth was cooked well, but the crispy squid, which were essentially calamari, was coated in a heavy batter which didn’t rise and was way too salted. The squid rings were either extremely thin to begin with, or were cooked way too long and had shrunk.

For dessert, Evelyn went for the apple crumble and custard, which was good, but typical. I went for the warm chocolate brownie and pistachio ice cream. The brownie was a bit too chewy but was just the right richness in chocolate, and without being too sweet. The ice cream tasted more like vanilla than pistachio, and needed a bit more nut in it to give it more flavour.

Overall, the meal was slightly above average. Service was very good and efficient, and we liked the nice touch of tap water served in a nice glass bottle. Service at Lamberts Restaurant is 12.5%, which I find steep as I think 10% should be the standard. The 3-course meal originally costs £20 (although we got it for £8), which I think is an average price as neither the menu was neither exciting nor was the execution flawless. Another Anything more than £20 and one does expect both when it comes to a restaurant in a zone 3 suburb.

Lamberts Restaurant
Cuisine: Fine British food
Location: 2 Station Parade, Balham High Road, Balham, London SW12 9AZ
Nearest Tube Station: Balham Tube & National Rail Station (2 minutes walk)
Booking/Enquiry tel: 020 8675 2233
Website: www.lambertsrestaurant.com

  • Ian Freeman

    I really do feel you have been hyper-critical here of a meal that cost £20 (let alone one that cost £8!). Lamberts is acclaimed for its cooking and I for one have never had a meal there that wasn’t spectacular, given that I normally spend around £50 per head with wine. Being so picky-picky is no help to the average discerning diner – an overall assessment of an establishment is far more help than a morsel-by-morsel dissection of each dish.

    Incidentally, there are a few errors in your post – “A very executed starter”, “…neither the menu was exciting…” and “Another more than £20 and one does expect both…”.

  • http://www.london-insider.co.uk The London Insider

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the comment – and also for the spellcheck. Sometimes I type way too fast and its like my fingers have a mind of their own; the words come out in the wrong order or they type a different, but similar, word.

    I understand that my review wasn’t the most glowing of Lamberts, and I was trying to review from the point of the normal price of £20 instead of £8. While many parts of the meal was good, I think getting something like roast pork belly and calamari wrong is a bit disappointing, as those, in my opinion, are two common dishes that most professional chefs should get right.

    In any ways, I implemented a comments section on this site exactly for the purpose of discussion and other opinions, and it is great that you have taken up the other side – always good to have a counterweight and balance!