I have found myself increasingly in Tooting for foodie experiences, with more and more great restaurants popping up all the time. Being based south of the river, this isn’t too much of a problem but convincing friends from North London to travel down can be more of a challenge. However, I recently discovered a new gastro pub, which is bound to get Londoners from all parts of the city excited and travelling the Northern Line.
The Trafalgar Arms has just had a makeover and is looking suitably stunning. The pub has a heart-warming story behind it; having nearly been abolished all together, it has recently undergone a renovation and has managed to retain its prime position on Tooting High Street. After a property developer bought the pub to turn into flats, the locals of Tooting came together and campaigned to keep it alive as a pub. After a lengthy period of negotiation Young’s purchased the building and turned it into the beautiful and homely pub that stands there now.
The Trafalgar Arms looks like a grand stately home, which occupies a big plot with expansive outdoor space and a huge, swanky interior. Even on the chilly late-September evening we visited people were enjoying the garden, huddled under the outdoor heaters.
On arrival to their bright and airy dining room, we were greeted by their friendly host, who seated us and made a suitable wine recommendation to get us started. We settled in on their tan brown leather seating and ordered a sharing starter of baked camembert with sourdough sticks. Hot melted cheese is always a winner and this was no exception.
Pub food is a staple in the UK and a treasured cuisine. Fish & chips, burgers and sausage & mash are all menu staples, but pubs are adding to this classic selection with inventive new dishes and the Trafalgar Arms comes out tops on this.
We deliberated over the mains for a while. So many delicious options and we wanted to sample something, which would fit into a traditional pub menu, and something else, which was unique to the Trafalgar. We eventually settled on the fish & chips and a Cornish fish stew, which we concluded afterwards, were excellent choices. The fish & chips was a faultless dish. The chips were massive hunks of potato deep-fried to within an each of their lives; they were crispy and golden on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the classic pub chip done extremely well. The fish was fresh and generously battered, with sides of a tangy tartar sauce and mushy peas. The kitchen did a fantastic job of this classic dish.
The Cornish fish stew was a new level of foodie heaven. It’s not a dish I would usually go for but it exceeded all expectations. The depth of flavour in the sauce was incredible, it sung all kinds of notes of deeply comforting spices and fragrant seafood flavours. The stew was filled with fleshy cod cheeks, huge langoustines, and a thick slice of rye bread slathered with aioli.
Dessert was a slice of delicious fig frangipane tart with a chocolate cream, which we shared. We lingered and chatted in their relaxed dining room for hours, draining the last of the wine and enjoying the comfortable atmosphere.
The residents of Tooting should be proud for saving this space and preserving it as a place to come together and enjoy good food and drink. I couldn’t recommend it enough for a pub lunch or dinner and if you need a reason to discover a new part of London, let The Trafalgar Arms be yours for Tooting.