“ 82 Clapham Park Road, Clapham, London, SW4 7BX. Tel: 020 7622 7880 „
** Introduction **
I am lucky enough to work in what is claimed to be one of the 'trendy' parts of London. The place they call Clapham. Whether it is actually 'trendy' is another story all together. However, luckily for me I am surrounded by bars, cafés, restaurants and of course the good old McDonalds or two! But this also means we are spoilt for choice. When we plan lunch we have to start planning from the morning. Indecisiveness is our middle name! But after a while we always break the list down to one or two favourite locations. And Perfect Blend is one of them.
** Perfect Blend **
Opening in 2008 Perfect Blend is a chameleon, it changes it atmosphere throughout the day very cleverly, from café to restaurant and then to a social bar. The second to be opened of its kind in London it really does stand out from the usual eating and chill out spots and definitely has a bit of sexy yet contemporary style to it. With an open early and close late attitude it works well in the vibrant capital.
Bradley Ridge the entrepreneur behind Perfect Blend is often seen at the café getting stuck in and always has time to say hello to the customers (although his charm, good looks and flashy car seem to be all worth it!) There are now two Perfect Blends, one in Clapham and one in Streatham. Having been to both they work arm in arm together and I have found all aspects of both locations to work the same and I have had the same experience. This review is based on the Clapham branch, purely because this is my most regular one.
** Location **
In the heart of Clapham but tucked slightly away from the hustle and bustle of the high street it is situated perfectly. Although if you are ever passing through Clapham make sure you don't overlook it! Situated next to so many transport links, Clapham tube station, Clapham train station and a pocket load of different buses (and parking right outside which is free after 6.30pm) there really is no reason that you cant get slightly carried away in the evening. Unfortunately for me, I only have an hour's lunch break!
People who know Clapham may laugh when it is described as the up-market; trendy side of South London, but Clapham has been home to many celebrities in its time, with some of the best known residents including Vivienne Westwood, Piers Morgan, JK Rowling and Sarah Ferguson (formerly HRH the Duchess of York). So it can't be that bad. (Depending on how you rate the celebrities of course!). Personally I love the area, and Perfect Blend fits in ideally. It is relaxed, sociable and friendly. There is still plenty of hustle and bustle but Perfect blend has escaped that slightly which makes the location perfect.
** Décor **
The first thing that makes Perfect Blend standout is firstly its outside seating area. On a high street it is really hard to create a perfect balance between having an outside area that is still relaxing but without cramming it all on to one bench. These guys have worked it perfectly by separating the relatively large outside eating area with large contemporary flower boxes which home pretty looking flowers and large leafed plants which cut you off from the rest of the pavement. It works very well, and you still feel like you are getting a bit of privacy. Us girls do like to gossip on our lunch breaks! The café has slide-open doors for an al fresco experience which looks great but also makes the inside look bigger then it actually is. When you walk inside the 'L' shaped design is quite interesting and lets you seclude yourself away if you want to. With 2 large brown worn sofas (which I must say you can't get up from because they are so comfortable!) and brown suede colored booths, large wooden tables, small 2 seated tables and low tables with leather type blocks as seats it really is a complete chill out area. All the materials in the café are there to catch your senses. The walls are covered in squares of brown and big suede... you can't help but run your hands across the wall!
They also have relatively random pieces of art on the walls, one being a natural wood model of a Deer's head, where you can use the antlers to hang up your coat! As well as the two large plasma screens on the wall and what is screened varies though-out the day. Unique yet charming and the little touches change through-out the day to create different atmospheres. I will tell you about these later.
Depending on what time of day you walking you will either find the bar alight with bright green and yellow lights mixed with the silver design of the bar, tea light candles on the tables or the delicatessen counter filled to the rim of all types of sandwich fillings and cakes with the menu written robustly in white chalk on a black board. The whole décor creates a relaxed but very stylish ambiance and it is a lovely place to walk into.
** Food & Drink **
Other then the feel that I am going somewhere a little special when I go to Perfect Blend, I also go there because the food is fantastic! Everything from their breakfast baguettes to the mussels and even Ostrich main meals are cooked perfectly and you can request you're food however you like and they always accommodate. Eggs runny, cheese melted, toast burnt! You name it and the chef will do it. All of their 'cold' sandwich fillings are on display and it really is so hard to choose. A perfect example if that a huge fresh wholemeal bap, with bacon, brie and whatever else you like is a cheap as chips £2.49. Or you can get their magnificent Galloway steak in Ciabatta bread, home made fries (gorgeously made with the skin still on) and a crispy leaf salad with balsamic vinegar for £5 and they don't skimp on the steak!
The food is made to order so will have to wait for things to be cooked and for the sandwiches to be prepared but it really is worth it. They also sell scrumptious cakes and croissants filled with cream. A huge slice of delicate, moist carrot cake is £2.50. I collected one at lunch today and ended up sharing it with three people! Needless to say I was not impressed.
Everything is available to eat in or take away and eating in does not cost you more. (As the likes of Starbucks increase the price if you eat in!). You can also call up in advance and make your order so it is ready for you to pick up if you are in a rush. A few times I have done the breakfast run at work and have called in advance with a list of sausage and egg sandwiches, and because I hate waiting I love the fact you can call in advance. I just wish they delivered! So in general, the freshly cooked food is great value for money. It is freshly made and tastes great. Definitely worth the wait and tastes better then any pre-packed sandwich from the other more known chains.
In terms of drinks, they sell the obvious soft drinks, but they also do their own freshly squeezed orange juice, which is expensive at £3 but a large tall glass filled with real orange juice - no water or orange squash here! I would never have the time to do that so it is something a little refreshing and of course something healthy to wash down the mozzarella covered tuna melt! The alcoholic drinks which they serve are pretty standard to be honest.
They have a cocktail list which I do find to be slightly expensive, £8 a glass is not that competitive and I guess what they lose on the food they make up on the alcohol. They also sell the usually wines and beers at a slightly higher price. Generally speaking the drinks are orthodox but with a slightly higher price tag so the food is definitely where this place shines!!!!
** Staff & Service **
This is where Perfect Blend loses a star, purely because the service is unbearably slow at times. (Remember what I said about ordering before I get there... this is the reason why!). I understand that everything is freshly prepared but really the service is incredibly unhurried and I believe this is due to the lack of staff.
There usually only seems to be two or three people at the most running around the place. Bearing in mind they do hot food, cold food, telephone orders, drinks and take always there is quite a lot going on. Match that with cleaning tables, delivering orders and the general upkeep of the café and it seems more staff is required. It can become slightly frustrating when you are in a rush at lunchtime. However, the staff definitely work their socks off and still have time for a smile. I have always found them friendly, although not friendly enough to have a chat (unless the owner is there!) But they are always courteous and friendly, although perhaps slightly unprofessional. I have on a few occasions seen them snap at each other! But as Perfect Blend has become more popular and therefore busier, the service has indeed become slower and slightly more cluttered, this is mainly at lunchtimes. The evening service seems to be slightly more controlled and professional. Even though it is exactly the same members of staff. They really do have long days!
** Facilities **
The only other downside to Perfect Blend is the toilet. Ok, maybe not a big deal for some but if you are out for the night then the loos are somewhere you will probably visit frequently. Well, this is where perfect Blend also slips up. They have catered for so much in the small space they have that I think they forgot about the toilets. Well, they do have bathroom facilities. One toilet to be exact. Unisex. With a sink, some flowers and soap. This would probably be best avoided. Not that it is in a state but In general, on a night out, toilets are not the best place to visit let alone when there is only 1 available!!
In terms of using Perfect Blend as an evening location, for get together or a meal, I would STRONGLY advise you booking ahead as it becomes extremely busy and you will find that many of the tables have a little 'reserved' sign on and you en dup getting asked to move. (This is slightly frustrating). In my opinion, anything after 6pm should be booked. Before then you get the odd few after work drinkers popping in and the odd coffee-new reader, but after the main diners arrive and plonk themselves down for the evening on the few unreserved tables. So think ahead!
** Perfect Blend as a Café **
As a Café, Perfect Blend is the ideal location for a relaxing afternoon lunch or morning breakfast. Opening at around 8am it works as a café all the way up until 5 or 6pm. With the soft sofas and the perfect ambiance you can have a cosy chat in the corner or a subdued time out alone with the paper. The fact it is cheaper then similar places such as Starbucks but with the same character makes it really appealing. It doesn't make itself to exclusive; you can still get the best bacon butty going in Clapham, but with a fashionable skinny latte to wash it down.
The service isn't as quick, especially if you are taking away. But everything from the full English breakfast to a cheese sandwich or pancakes with maple syrup, it all has a little extra touch. The plasma screens are usually showing the news or loose women (you can request it to be changed if you really want to watch something!) and the tables all have a lunch menu which is placed in between 2 glass panels, and the customary HP Ketchup and brown sauce.
This is definitely one of the best cafés in South London and a fantastic place to chill out for a while.
==~~ 4 Stars ~~==
** Perfect Blend as a Bar **
Alcoholic drinks are served throughout the day, so you can have a glass of wine with your lunch no problem. But the bar officially launches in the evening around 5.30pm, when the after work socialises come in for their evening gossip! They usually have one or two people at the bar, so once again it can be a bit of a wait. But with most people sitting rather then standing it isn't generally crowded. The bar is definitely attention grabbing. It is brightly lit in a bright yellow/lime green by a circular designed light of some kind at the back of the bar. The 3 silver bar stools are strategically places so as to not crowd the area and although small it caters well. With all the bottles lines up in perfect order, they also have little random objects in glad frames on the wall which adds to the uniqueness of the place. Much more of a relaxed atmosphere then some of the other bars, the music is light, the lights are dimmed and it is more of a social tranquil atmosphere then that of a before going out to party sort of place. You really can settle down for the evening, although the drink prices may prevent you from staying longer then you would like.
It never gets too crowded but enough so you feel blended in, but don't expect any one to get up and dance... there's no space for that unfortunately! So I would recommend Perfect Blend for after work drinks, a meeting location before you go out or a small catch up with friends over a bottle of wine or two! It isn't somewhere that I would go to regularly for the bar. The only downside to the Perfect Blend bar is that where they serve the lunches during the day, the deli counter they have, is still very much on show. They have hidden it in a corner and it is in a darkened area, but it definitely spoils the mood somehow. A bit like a roast dinner with added tomato ketchup, somehow it just doesn't fit in! It is a shame they can not block it off with a pretty shade of some kind. The atmosphere changes around this time as this is when the tea lights come out on the tables, the music raised slightly and the lights dimmed a bit more. A pleasant evening out by any standards.
==~~ 3 Stars ~~==
** Perfect Blend As a restaurant **
With the relatively exciting menu the food is always presented in a gorgeous way. With the expertise of a quality chef the salads are presented perfectly and the sauces applied like a piece of art! (Did I mention they also serve Ostrich?) The meals average at about £6 which for what you get is extremely reasonable. Everything is well cooked and tastes home-made. Unlike some places that end up tasting like a microwave meal. You get your order taken from your seat and you can choose wherever you want to sit and you can move the tables to accommodate the people in your party. As I said previously, I really would advise you to book a table if you are going for a meal. It gets extremely busy and with no waiting area it would be shame to miss out. Perfect Blend offers a classy but relaxed and informal dining atmosphere. Once again the staff are friendly all being it a little slow and you are left to your own devices once you have your meal.
I wouldn't recommend this for large parties as they only really have 2 large booths which can accommodate 9 or 10 people and for them to give up more space would definitely mean booking ahead. This is a great little restaurant for smaller group of 4 or 5 people or less. It's quite an intimate atmosphere and you would be more likely to get the seating you want. As its get slightly later the lights become even more dimmed and the atmosphere becomes much more intense, very relaxing and you can hear the chatter of the music. It's a really nice place to grab a bite to eat without feeling you are being watched or have to dress up! It is also nice to know you won't be breaking the bank. Once again, I have to state that the service is pretty slow, which is another reason why the tables are usually full, because people are in there so long! But that is the only downfall to the restaurant side of things. Oh and as it doesn't have an exact closing time (just open until late) you don't have to keep clock watching! Great!
==~~ 4 Stars ~~==
** Overall Experience & Recommendation **
Perfect Blend really is one of my first choices when eating out in and around Clapham and South London. I would not go tremendously out of my way but it definitely works as a place to get together with some friends for lunch or dinner. If you are stuck with where to take someone for a 'date' then perfect blend is ideal of an evening. I wouldn't recommend it as a place to dose up on alcohol, although the décor etc make it a very nice place to do so, the prices are slightly higher compared to the rest of the area.
I would definitely recommend Perfect Blend to anyone, and I hope they build a couple more in the near future. If you are passing, it is definitely worth a visit.
Perfect Blend is indeed the perfect name!
** Contact Details **
Perfect Blend Clapham
82 Clapham Park Road
020 7622 7880
Perfect Blend Streatham
8-9 Streatleigh Parade Streatham High Rd,
020 8769 4646
==Thank you for reading.==