This past weekend we went to check out Jimmy Garcia’s latest project in my local Balham neighbourhood. Opened just over one week ago, The Lodge is Balham’s answer to anyone pining for some après ski without the time to actually get to the mountains. Taking over one of the store fronts on Balham’s pedestrian Hildreth Street for three months, I was mostly excited about the excuse to eat fondue outside of a ski holiday setting.
We tried it out on a Sunday, when they do a special Sunday Lunch menu including a traditional Lamb Roast for anyone looking for a more classic Sunday feast. From Tuesday – Saturday they do offer other mains, like duck, sea bream and Bubble & Squeak. But whilst the roasts we spied on other tables did look delicious, we were here for the fondue. The more cheese the better. Plus the hot cocktails of course.
The first thing I noticed was just how warm and inviting the place looked from the outside. And once we entered, I did feel just a little bit transported to the Alps. The animal furs and vintage ski posters on the walls helped too. We were given a good space at the end of one of their long sharing tables ready for our Swiss–South London feast.
Starting with the cocktail list (naturally…), The Lodge has kept some of the classics (mulled wine and cider top the menu) whilst putting their own twist on others, like ‘Snow and Sand’ – a hot twist on a Pina Colada. For the sake of research (ahem), we tried and tested five of the seven cocktails on offer. There were no bad sips, but the Baked Alaska Buttered Rum came out on top for me. The name says it all really. And who can complain when you there’s a meringue floating on top of your glass?
After some lovely pumpkin soup and foie gras parfait to start, the long awaited fondue course arrived. Whilst our starters were great, in retrospect I would have skipped these and headed straight for the fondue. You will not go hungry, and the more space for fondue the better really…
At the moment, the charcuterie platter of cured meats we had isn’t included on the Sunday menu, but we and just about everyone else requested it anyway, and Jimmy’s team obliged. As they find their feet with what works well, we see an updated Sunday menu in their future.
The fondue was exactly what it should have been. And with more than enough bread and buttery potatoes for dipping, we could have sat there all afternoon trying to work our way through the huge melting pot of Coolea and Ogleshield Somerset cheese. I kind of wish we had. As it was, we did our best but were eventually beat. If fondue were more easily transported I would have taken the rest home for a midnight snack. As it stands, I’m researching fondue sets for sale… (although without holing up in a warm log cabin, with hot cocktails served for me, I’m not sure it’ll be quite the same).
After being defeated by our cheesy feast, sadly dessert was not in the cards. I may have to go back just for that… If I do make it back, I will be ordering Jimmy’s Ice Cream Factory, where the toppings are brought to your table, plus a bowl of ice cream for you to top and decorate as you please (or just eat the marshmallows straight which we also witnessed and did not judge). Or if you haven’t had enough cheese at this point, you can opt for a Neal’s Yard cheese board. A bit of a dairy overload if you ask me, but Neal’s Yard is rarely a bad choice.
The whole menu at The Lodge is small but yummy, but the main reason to come here is the fondue. This is not one for the lactose intolerant, but for anyone happy to make dairy your main food group of the day, this is a great little winter treat.
It’s only around for three months, and the bookings are piling up. I recommend getting your fondue day reserved now and make sure you go with an empty stomach and a taste for the Alpine.
For bookings, email email@example.com or call 020 8675 9889.