Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Thai, Pop Up
Damage: £ – ££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Food
Working together at the Brook Green Farmer’s Market in West London, Seb Holmes of The Begging Bowl and Smoking Goat fame, and Tomas Lenko, mastermind behind the impossibly popular Bold London Spirit, have set up a three night pop up at The Lodge Clapham!
With Seb at the grill and Tomas behind the bar, Farang brings Thai street food with a greater focus on seasonal ingredients, at all their pop-ups, supperclubs, and street markets. The modestly sized venue at The Lodge also hosts a private dining space upstairs which seats groups of 10-12, with its own personal balcony looking over Clapham North.
Let’s have a look at the cocktails!
A favourite of bars like the Sun Tavern, and Discount Suit Co., Bold London Spirit is not to be confused with a cherry liqueur! At a solid 36% ABV, this all-natural cherry aperitif mixes 15 botanicals including sour cherries, juniper berries and cassia bark for a spicy bitter spirit that is lightly sweet and floral, adding a fun twist to cocktails that demand Maraschino or more warming flavours.
Tomas explains that the cocktail menu for Farang veers toward the sweeter side to contrast with the punchy, spicier flavours of the dishes.
Beginning with an amuse bouche of sorts: a short citrusy shot of Bold with gojiberry, and plum bitters, we order our aperitifs.
Unlikely for an aperitif, the Smoked Thai Ice Tea mixes lapsang souchong tea, Bold spirit, cherry reduction, fresh lemon juice, layered with coconut milk. Served long, this cocktail is served beautifully – so do allow yourself a little cry when you realise that you have to stir the drink to mix the coconut milk with the drink.
A starter milkshake of sorts, the cocktail is sweet and velvety with the light milk. Like many of the cocktails on the menu, is granted a smoky profile thanks to the lapsang souchong, which lingers in the background as the cherry and cassia dominate the cocktail.
It’s been a while since the Hoodooist enjoyed a sweeter drink, and this was it!
The Toasted Coconut Negroni is for the crowd with less of a sweet tooth: brings together Bold spirit, campari, toasted coconut infused gin. This deep, dark cocktail has some serious swagger, a quick bright wash of Campari is immediately followed by the cherry, and finally – a powerful hit of sweet and smoky coconut, with a trail of juniper to follow.
You want to let this one smoke in its bottle for a bit before pouring it, and don’t take your time with it either. Letting it sit sends the flavours haywire. Enjoy promptly while making your order.
Finally, the Ong-Bak: Barrel-aged Bold spirit stirred with SangSom rum, wolfberries and aromatic bitters. I have to admit, I struggled with this one – not to say it was a bad drink, no – it was kind of a rollercoaster of flavours here. If you’re looking for something more bitter, aromatic, and dry, you found your drink!
Farang’s brief food menu aims at sharing plates where you dig in and get messy, and comes in small and large portions. Not knowing what to expect, the pair of us went for two large and two small plates and found ourselves with entirely too much to eat – yet still ended up demolishing most of the food, wracked with guilt with not being about to devour all of it.
Beginning with the small (but still sizable) plates of Crispy Vegetable Wontons with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce, and Tempura Vegetables and Burnt Chilli Dipping Sauce – both dishes are simple and elegant.
The wontons being among the better I’ve experienced. No unnecessary parcelling here – there is only as much wrapper that is absolutely needed, leaving more to the spiced herbs and vegetables inside. The tempura vegetables come with betel leaves, lightly curried, and served with an exquisite smoked grilled chilli sauce I wish I always had on me!
For our large plates we began with the Nham Prik Ong with Asian Vegetables and Grilled Sardines – out of sardines, a large grilled mackerel accompanied the Nham Prik Ong: a rich minced pork and tomato relish with dried soy bean, raw vegetables, and East Asian herbs. Deciding to just go in for the kill by using the vegetables or salted turmeric butter roti to scoop up the mince – much less stressful than picking through the mackerel’s bones in the then-dim light of the restaurant.
Finally, the Half a Free-Range Baby Gola Chicken cooked in Banana Leaves – as much as I dislike the word, ‘succulent’ is really the best description here. This is pretty damn sizable for half a baby chicken.
Tender and so juicy, the banana leaves are unwrapped to reveal the chicken steaming and sauced with peanuts, with powerful flavours of traditional ginger and garlic, coconut, sweet basil, and cumin. For someone who normally steers clear of chicken, ordering the Gola Chicken was a decision I’m glad we made.
Farang @ The Lodge
18th and 25th April
409 Clapham Rd, Clapham North
London SW9 9BT