Clapham was once a little hamlet surrounded by big houses, where prosperous Londoners kept country retreats. Today the Old Town and High Street is flourishing with smart restaurants and bars. Thanks to the much-maligned Northern line, Clapham, unlike most parts of South London, has a direct link to the West End and particularly the city.
The White House, which has now been open for six months, is only a five-minute walk away from Clapham Common underground station. This bar-restaurant and private members club exudes style and exclusivity for the twenty and thirty something in-crowd that flock to trendy, buzzing Clapham, especially at the weekend.
On the ground floor, as you enter the White House is the main lounge bar area. The décor is modern, stylish and beautifully lit with integrated stainless steel fittings and the atmosphere is relaxed. The waiting staff are well drilled and escorted us through to our table in the bar restaurant area.
Olivia, the floor manager was very friendly and attentive. She explained that they "strived to be different in offering funky fun food". Indeed, while we decided what to eat, we nibbled away at long artistic strands of pork crackling embedded in applesauce, which provided an unusual alternative to the conventional floral table display. Overall, we would describe the menu as high quality al la Carte Tapas.
For an appetizer I had Carpaccio of beef Parmesan and rocket, which was delicious. Wally's Bang bang chicken salad was served with a smooth peanut flavored Thai sauce that helped complement the hot spicy red peppers within the salad. The Teriyaki duck, seared Bok Choi and Szechwan pepper was a little under done for Amanda's liking, but was very succulent and tasty, nevertheless.
A diverse selection of chill out and soul funk music plays audibly, but without offence to accompany your food. The lighting is automatically controlled to change atmosphere as the evening progresses. So as we moved onto our main courses, it lowered creating a more intimate feel.
My Mahi Mahi served with oriental Wok fried Bok Choi was very succulent and just melted in the mouth. However, Wal found his Smoked Chicken Wrap, a little bland and uninspiring. He looked forlorn when Amanda informed him that her Moroccan lamb, Chickpeas and Sweet Potato Tagine was shear perfection. Well, two out of three isn't bad! Unfortunately, the dishes were small and of Tapas like proportion, so we consumed our dishes before Wally had a chance to wrestle something from our plates.
Before we moved onto desserts, the amazing "Magic Junior", a magician from Yorkshire, entertained us at our table. Dressed in a bandana and a suit that Michael Jordan would be proud of, it turned out that Magic hailed from Inglewood, Los Angeles and needless to say supported the Lakers. His tricks and illusions were the highlight of the evening; before my very eyes, I swear he made a cigarette pass through a solid one-pound coin!
And so to desserts. Wally chose the hot chocolate fondant with vanilla bean ice cream. It arrived with a nice flaky crust, which when cut open, revealed a warm chocolate interior. Amanda and I opted for the Pear Tartan, which I found hard and difficult to eat, but which Amanda enjoyed nevertheless.
The White House offers a reasonable selection of wines, and we enjoyed a nice bottle of Australian Mill Shiraz before sampling an excellent Sauvignon Dessert wine from Windowrie estate in New South Wales.
After our meal, Ben the co-owner of the White House escorted us into the Members Club on the first floor. There are 250 members, with entry is limited to 60 people at any one time. The club has a bar with a second adjoining chill-out room and the Zen candles on each table create an intimate atmosphere for mingling. "We wanted to create a chic, exclusive club for the young professionals who reside in this area. We offer a convenient, local alternative to travelling to Soho and the West End", explained Ben.
On the second floor are two exclusive private dining rooms, one of which can sit up to thirty people. The second is smaller and sits about eight people. Either can be used for corporate and private functions. The management of the White House have corporate entertainment experience, so this should be an interesting option for local, if not City, companies to consider.
The White House is a little off the beaten track, but if you're looking for a stylish, yet fun, relaxed night out, mixing with the in-crowd of South London, it is highly recommended.Tel: 0207 498 3388
White House on the web
Entertainment: Wednesdays, Guest DJ.
Occasional Magician, magic junior ltd email
Paul Page, Amanda Smith, July 2001