I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to Clapham, despite living in this fair city for nearly eight years. But my friends keep moving there so now four out of five of those visits have seriously been in the last few months. My friends Natasa and Ollie are down there so occasionally, when I see something that piques my interest south of the river, I drop them a note and see if they’re game.
Mendoza Square is an Latin American restaurant that couldn’t be any closer to Clapham North tube if it tried. It is seriously right across the crosswalk from the tube exit, making it a handy rendezvous point for those times where you need a spot to, well, rendezvous.
We dropped in on a chilly and damp Monday night, a slow night for a lot of restaurants, so we had our choice of seats. Natasa and I helped ourselves to a glass of wine but Ollie demurred, claiming Atkinsitis. (I really should get back onto Atkins, shouldn’t I?)
Mendoza is a new restaurant so the fittings are pleasingly modern and in excellent condition. I really like the decor…it looked like someone had truly given it some thought. Also cute? The menu. It’s styled as a little newspaper entitled “Breaking News in Clapham North.” Some might find this gimmicky but I thought it was great. (I also used to make fake newspapers like this as a child all the time. DORK.)
Starters of mixed empanadas and fat rings of calamari were party pleasers, the calamari particularly so. We also ordered some nachos, and while the guacamole was great, the chips and cheese congealed quickly, making it all a little less enjoyable.
I enjoyed my Pescado Rodrigo (pan-fried sea bass), which came highly recommended by our server. She was right and we declared my dish the pick of the night. It was a supremely generous portion, however, and I struggled to finish it. Ollie did not let Atkins stop him from ordering the burger, although he somehow managed to ignore the bun. Dessert was a sticky salted caramel cheesecake which Natasa enjoyed but wasn’t for me. (I’m not much one for dessert, unless it’s ice cream or lemon tart or the occasional macaron or slice of carrot cake.) Service throughout was attentive and friendly.
All in all, we had an enjoyable evening at Mendoza Square. Natasa and Ollie, as the locals, said in particular that they would be happy to return. So if you find yourself at Clapham North tube and you are in need of casual sustenance, just pop across the street to Mendoza Square.
I dined as a guest of Mendoza Square. My invitation included two starters, two mains, two desserts and two drinks. There were three of us so we still ordered for three and left a tip on the full amount.