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Balham Institution Lamberts Announces Closure After 17 Years

Owner Joe Lambert points to “onerous administrative tasks imposed by the council and government”

English peas and fresh cheese at Lamberts, one of Balham’s best restaurants Lamberts/Instagram

Lamberts, which served the Balham community the food it wanted to eat for 17 years, has closed. In an email sent to customers, owner Joe Lambert cites the “current economic climate of ever increasing operating costs, relentless bureaucratic costs and onerous administrative tasks imposed by the council and government” as the reason that “we have been forced into this position. I had always hoped to make it to 20 years.... but alas, it is not to be.” Tributes from local residents and food writers alike have poured in across Twitter in response to this morning’s Thursday’s announcement.

Much loved by the locals, Lamberts was known for its understated vibe, and for its “changing ‘market menu’, wrote Eater contributor Josh Barrie:

It’s curious that the place has not been more widely celebrated, for the cooking is majestic: steak and ale pies bring to the table a collective sigh; hake fillets are paired perfectly with tomatoes and butter beans. There’s no fear of revisiting classics, while more avant-garde gems like gnocchi, soft with broad beans and artichokes, provide a fine base from which to explore the happy and affordable wine list.

In the email, Lambert thanked customers and staff for all their support and contribution, and paid tribute to suppliers for providing excellent British produce — a task that “has been a challenge to only use British produce and follow the British seasons so religiously, not to mention doing it for 17 years, long before it became so fashionable, but a very rewarding challenge.”

When asked if the circumstances allow Lambert to honour suppliers’ and staff’s final wages and invoices, he replied in the affirmative — that it’s “obviously a very important thing to me” — and said he has lined up interviews for most of his staff with Lamberts alumni. He also looked at London’s broader restaurant environment and suggested that “it is becoming more and more unsustainable,” citing “quite a few closed and empty sites like Gazette, Foxlow, Bodeans, Dynamo” in Balham alone:

The sums just don’t add up and I believe there needs to be some action taken on the part of the government and councils to stop using restaurants as a cash cow, andnd start realising that they are good for society and for the local town centres.

Lambert also mentioned that he will continue his “culinary journey” at his Firepit popup at The Inkspot Brewery.

More soon.