The Pavement in Clapham, home to some of south London’s most interesting restaurants and one of the city’s best tasting menus, has welcomed a new arrival. St Clair, which opened without fanfare late last year in the space formerly occupied by bakery Madeleine, promises ‘London curated Nikkei cuisine with French “Mise-en-Scène”’.
Traditionally held to be Peruvian ingredients prepared in a Japanese-influenced style, Nikkei cuisine has been shaped by Japanese migration to Peru from the late 1800s onwards. At St Clair it plays out in dishes such as salmon and passionfruit with squid-ink tostadas, served with lemongrass dashi; fresh tuna sausages; and pork chashu with smoked black bean mole. Weekend brunches will feature the likes of crab benedict with dill hollandaise, and whole stuffed seabass.
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Its Instagram may be heavy on Mayfair-redolent oysters and champagne, but St Clair is far from being a style-over-substance ‘fusion’ restaurant. Head chef Jorge Baumhauer da Silva, who lectures on Peruvian and Brazilian cuisine at Leiths School of Food and Wine in west London, hails from Brazil’s Amazonian region, and has worked at Ceviche and Andina as well as serving as head chef for the Brazilian embassy in London. Joining him in the kitchen are Maria Corrêa-Monteiro and Geovany Mota.
Meanwhile, poke bowls are available to take away at lunchtime, and an in-house fish ‘boutique’ has fresh octopus, scallops, swordfish and whole seabass to go, priced per kilo. It’s early days still, but this is certainly one to watch: in a part of the city that’s not short on great places to eat but still struggling to shrug off its athleisurewear-and-avo-toast reputation, St Clair’s arrival represents a genuinely interesting development.