If this was a popularity contest, the other contestants might as well quit now, such is the popularity of The Pepper Tree with local residents in Clapham. It has been voted the best restaurant in Clapham and that’s hardly surprising given the relaxed style, the popular Thai classics and the speedy service offered by them.
The decor revolves around informal canteen style benches and tables with subtle nods to the culture of Thailand with murals on their walls and Thai pepper plants on the tables. It is informally decorated and welcoming with the kind of decor that rarely dates over time.
You won’t find many items on the menu that are groundbreaking, but more items that bring a sense of familiarity and assurance. Spicy fish cakes had an excellent mixture of prawn and cod, although the Thai herbs could have been stronger. Perhaps the locals prefer a less spicy version of this popular Thai dish? Vegetarian spring rolls were crunchy and tasted fresh from the fryer and the ideal dish with the right amount of grease to counteract any hangovers. They don’t shirk from using authentic ingredients with black fungus, cabbage, carrot and vermicelli.
They have a fine selection of traditional Thai offerings here including curries, fried rice, big bowl soup noodles and salads. Both my guest and I opted for their wok noodle section. Great wok skills in the kitchen really separate the top from the average Asian restaurants.
My guest who had the Pad Thai Jay enjoyed the healthy nature of the dish with a decent amount of asparagus, pak choi, courgette, French beans and bean sprouts. However, it was once again on the mild side; he thought more spices in the dish above the tamarind sauce would have improved the dish.
I had the drunken noodles which on the menu claims that it is “a well-known hangover cure”. Sadly I wasn’t in possession of a hangover to test out their claims. I did enjoy the sen yai fat noodles, which did absorb well the flavours from the oyster sauce, chilli and garlic.
The surprise of the visit was the yellow beancake dessert being the best part of the meal. It was home-made in style, less sugary than traditional cakes and grain-free. The beans themselves don’t add flavours to the cake but imparts a fine texture and moisture to the dish.
The Pepper Tree is high on my list of places to visit if I am looking for a Thai fix in the Clapham area.