By Baldwin Ho

Leafy Balham isn’t an area short on excellent pubs and when you approach The Devonshire on Balham High Street, it does appear like a typical neighbourhood pub. Even as you enter the front part of the venue, you might be thinking what a traditional English pub with its fine, dark wood panelling and polished decorative mirrors. However, as you walk further inside, you will be stunned at how spacious The Devonshire is. Furthermore, you will be surprised at how modern other parts are, the brickwork and furnishings get progressively lighter in colour. What we particularly appreciated was the abundant amounts of potted plants on the tables and displayed on shelves on the walls along with various homely, antique-looking decorative pieces like sewing machine and radio. Their large outdoor terrace is a hive of activity in the summer months.

Their menu redefines what your expectations are for gastropub cuisine. Devon crab cakes are ubiquitous on most pub menus, however, few come with exquisite tasting roasted chilli mayo and pink stem radish leaves. Their salad of buffalo mozzarella and mixed baby tomatoes comes served with the hipster ingredient of the moment, pomegranate molasses. It adds a deliciously piquant flavour to the salad. It is especially well-paired with a glass of Featherdrop Bay Sauvignon Blanc with its fruity, spicy notes of gooseberry, passionfruit and green pepper.

Pea and broad bean risotto isn’t unusual in a gastropub, but the addition of mint adds a refreshing kick to the dish and its always pleasing to see British produce supported, in this case in the form of Ogleshield cheese, which is made from beautifully rich raw Jersey milk. 8 Oz Dorset lamb rump was cooked to a mouthwateringly pink colour and came with potatoes that are delightfully named pink furs. The asparagus is just the right size and well-buttered and the dish is finished off with an inviting tarragon gravy.

At every point of your meal, you can’t help but notice the amount of thought and ingenuity that have gone into the creation of the dishes. This continued with the desserts: an orange, corn and coconut cake is the kind of dish you might see in fine-dining restaurants rather than at your local pub. Even more so, when you consider, it was finished off with sour cream and balsamic reduction. It wasn’t overly sweet and the perfect way to end a great pub experience, no doubt we will be repeating again in the not-too-distant future.

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