The Avalon, Balham

Please note that due to Copyright Trolls, all images have been removed until I can manually review them, one by one, and ensure credit is appropriately displayed. So if the story suddenly makes no sense, then...well...soz.

This is a long process, so please bear with will likely take until the end of 2024 until all images are reviewed and displayed correctly. Sigh.

Please note that this review is from August 13, 2018 and may be out of date...restaurants sometimes get better, get worse, employ a new chef or end up with new management.

There are bloggers out there that demand attention. And not just in the way that this one demands:

Oh but she really works so hard on her blog and must tweet this exact same tweet several times every day until you know how hard she works.

Recently you’ll have seen that I’ve had a bit of bad luck with dining companions. I hope it is bad luck anyway – I was wearing particularly smelly shorts this Sunday due to a laundry backlog but that isn’t usual. My two most reliable companions have not been available, and replacements keep cancelling on me. I’ve had some pretty hefty hangovers to go along with this, and had some moderate doubts as to whether I would leave my house on recent Sunday afternoons to go sit by myself and eat dinner.

I do enjoy my little adventures but I like sharing experiences – until recently, I think only two of the reviews were solo-dining experiences. So it was by curious co-incidence that my favourite food blogger, Edible Reading (someone that can actually describe food with more complex adjectives than ‘nice’) shared his/her/ze’s thoughts on solo dining this Friday. Reading is a town to the west of London, by the way.

There are certain places which are perfect for solo-dining – and others that really are not. My thoughts on the matter are that I want somewhere not too busy, somewhere where I can hide in a corner and not be seen. I don’t want the staff members to make me uncomfortable for being a Tory and therefore having no friends. And in particular, I would be ever so frustrated if I had an amazing roast dinner…without anyone to share it with.

Sometimes I think that I get more enjoyment from the writing than the eating – especially when seeing the occasional comments from readers, getting the odd share, etc. After all I do work really so hard on my blog. And if I’ve got something to rant about then I’m truly happy…I really should start that blog about delays on the tube.

This week I span the random number generator and it came up with The Avalon in Balham. Maybe it’s actually just in Clapham, but lets pretend it is in Balham for the sake of this story, as I’ve had two pretty shit roast dinners in Balham previously, the truly abominable Bedford, and the exceptionally long wait for an average roast at The Grove.

Actually Clapham has also proffered me two dire roasts at No 32 The Old Town, and The Northcote.

But before my hopes of having something to rant about could get raised too high, I then realised that it was part of The Three Cheers Pub Co, which brought to me very good roast dinners at both The Princess Victoria and The Abbeville, at 7.79 and 8.16 respectively. Is that enough backlinks, Google?

I kind of wanted a bad roast so maybe I was more on the lookout for something to criticise than normal, and it didn’t take long until my back was up. I was hungover, tired, slightly grumpy and definitely lonely when I arrived at the bar of The Avalon, seeking attention. But not too much attention.

Alas the staff seemed more interested in chatting to each other and watching the football – who knew that Clapham was a bastion of Liverpool FC support?

I was beginning to think that not only was I by myself, but perhaps I wasn’t even at a bar, maybe I had constructed some form of alternative reality, when I finally managed to attract a barman’s attention, slightly more vigorously than my usually polite self would – he was about to serve a 3rd person in a row that had been waiting less time than me.

I advised that I had booked a table, and the reply was, “good for you”. He was clearly meaning it as a joke (maybe my aggrieved stance didn’t help), but I’d entered a busy pub by myself, wanting a nice quiet roast dinner and was now facing a challenge. Then came the dreaded question. No, not my grandma asking me for the 1000th time as to whether I am gay/pregnant/have black friends/are on drugs, but that eternal solo-dining question of shame, “how many of you are there?”.

The Avalon was far too popular for my liking. It was a large venue with seating areas at the front for the football, some outdoor tables protected from the drizzle, a large restaurant area out the back, and then a “Secret Garden” which was signposted in huge letters at the back of the pub.

To add to my growing feeling of discomfort and shame, I was shown to a high table, a wonky high table at that, with stools where I could perch myself above every single person in the venue so everyone could see that I HAVE NO FRIENDS. Not only that, but it was right next to the women’s toilets so I’d get to see that look of awkwardness every time a youngish…nah…near middle aged lady walked past as I desperately tried not to stare at her breasts. There are no longer young people living in Clapham, except those under 5.

Annoyingly, the roast dinners that were regularly being flown past me looked excellent. FML.

It was quite a wait for a roast dinner, which normally would please me as I’m encouraged by the decreased chance of microwaving that waiting brings, however I was surrounded by people enjoying themselves with their friends and family – my earphones have stopped working in one ear so I was struggling with people being too jovial to my left, and some wonderfully miserable minimal techno to my right. Yeah I know I could have made more effort to find someone to go with. Hell I could even try and get a girlfriend…maybe that is the ultimate solution. I’ll stop moaning now, I’ve got what looks like a good roast dinner to talk about. And another thing, how can it be anti-semitism? That was Doncaster, not Tunisia. We is Corbyn bruv.

I’d estimate that it was 30 minutes that I was waiting, judging from the timing of Liverpool’s goals. It certainly looked good upon arrival.

Starting with the carrots, which were two large chunks, lightly roasted and rather succulent. Very nice.

There was a bit of parsnip too, relatively tasteless – also had been lightly roasted. Quite nice.

A chunky floret of broccoli was provided, though this seemed as though it hadn’t been drained properly and was replete with rather more water than one would expect. Not especially nice.

Things were perhaps not quite as good as I had expected when I started eating the exceptionally plentiful savoy cabbage, which was in part fairly tasteless, but in other parts quite disturbing. Then I realised what was happening – there was a hidden pile of red cabbage, also known as Jeremy Corbyn’s new definition of anti-semitism. Definitely not nice.

I don’t like red cabbage. I reckon if you liked red cabbage, then you’d enjoy this – it was fruity yet slightly bitter. Alas it was also numerous, not only numerous but bitty, and I kept finding tiny bits of red cabbage throughout everything else I ate. Red cabbage isn’t quite on the level of distrust as peas are – I will tolerate it on my plate and try to eat it.

One thing that really shouldn’t be tolerated is the Jewish…I mean shit roast potatoes. I love everyone, I do (“I do” in a Welsh accent for no reason at all), I even go around hugging letter-boxes. Y’alright but. Anyone remember Helen from Big Brother? This is the worst paragraph that I have written ever.

The two roast potatoes were way too large to stand any chance of being good. I’m being generous by suggesting that the outside had a little toughness to it – inside also had more than a little toughness. The potatoes tasted old and tired, they were dry and one of them kind of grey inside – as in this potato should have been used a couple of weeks ago. These were shite roast potatoes. Shite is always said in a Scouse accent in my head.

Surely the impressive-looking Yorkshire pudding would be good?

No. The sides were was chewy, dry and crispy – the bottom part was nice…oh to have the lyrical capabilities of Edible Reading…the bottom part was sufficiently soggy and vaguely pleasurable with the…wait a minute…I haven’t told you what I ordered, have I?

Now I appreciate that you are probably not sat there questioning what kind of meal I’ve ordered – even if you voted Brexit you will realise that I ordered a roast dinner. The options were chicken, beef and pork belly – the pork belly looked excellent when it went by, but I thought I’d choose beef. Mainly because I haven’t had it for a while, and also I’m less of a fan of beef than other meats, so there was a higher chance of me having something to moan about. The price of the beef was £16, pork or chicken were £15. The vegetarian offering was nut roast. Who cares? But I work really so hard on my blog.

The beef was sirloin, I think, and was perfectly respectable if not especially interesting, cut into thin slices and curled up to make it look more generous than it really was. I’d estimate that there was around 5 times as much cabbage than beef.

Finally, was there any solace to be found in the gravy? No. It wasn’t bad, but it was a bit too sweet for my tastes, some combination of flavours between red cabbage and red wine. Perhaps neither.

I even left food. A good portion of red and savoy cabbage was left, along with half a potato. I don’t leave food, especially not when I’ve paid £16, plus fucking service charge.

There is nothing to recommend here. Clearly they are doing something right as it is a large pub and there were very few free tables – though Balhamites are hardly blessed with decent roast dinners from my experience. I was also in a critical mood to start with – yet there was so much wrong about not only the roast dinner, but the experience as a solo-diner.

Oh to have been wearing a burka.

It is little easier to choose a lowlight than a highlight, though I’d probably say that given that the roast potatoes were simply shite, they can have that award, and I did enjoy the two chunks of carrot.

I’m only giving it a round 5.60 out of 10. That seems generous.

Next Sunday I am sure that I will be back – though I have already been cancelled on. The random number generator has picked somewhere really quite interesting, though definitely not a solo-dining experience. Hell, I might even put some effort into finding someone to come with me.

On the bright side, one of my usual accomplices was socially compelled to go to Toby Carvery. And yes, apparently it really was dreadful. Sympathy is poring out of every place that you can imagine.

A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I should really copy and paste the ‘ha’s.ha haha haha haha haha haha ha. She is so getting sacked soon.

Don’t forget to share. I work really so hard on my blog.

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The Avalon, Balham

Station: Clapham South

Tube Lines: Northern

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £16.00

Rating: 5.60

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: The two large chunks, lightly roasted and rather succulent were very nice. And that's it.

Loathed: Roasties old, tired and grey, red cabbage everywhere, the yorkie chewy, dry and crispy, and the gravy too sweet. Full of yuck.

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