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Clarence, Balham

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user reviews of the Clarence, Balham

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Quite spacious and decently decorated, but unfortunately I just had some food here. I'm no fussy eater but the food was really bad. Tried to be fancy with hand cut chips but they weren't cooked and my fish had batter so thick I couldn't really find the fish. Disappointing
mlnc84 - 25 Sep 2012 19:45
I must agree with Joe. The Clarence has lost the awful mural. The staff are good. The beer is good. The pizza's are touch over priced but I'm cool with the Clarence again even if I preferred the previous incarnation more.
Extropunk - 23 Sep 2012 22:44
The recent refurbishment has made little to no difference to me except its a bit cleaner. I have not tried the new pizza oven option yet. I am still a fan of the Clarence due to its location to me and the beer garden outside as a smoker. The staff are always friendly and there is a good choice of beer on tap which makes this pub an ideal meeting place before perhaps moving onto livelier venues later on in the evening. A solid watering hole....
gumbo - 16 Aug 2011 13:47
Have been back since my last review and it's mollified me somewhat. The place is OK and I hope it survives as it's all right to go to. That said I'm still convinced that the new decor isn't as nice as the old style (no accounting for taste I guess) and still seems to be an attempt to solve a problem that wasn't there in the first place. The service and selection of beers are still good though so this will probably keep me coming back but where as it used to be first on the list or the place you want to close out the night in now it's just another one on the list or another stop on the road.


theoneandonlyjoe - 12 Apr 2011 17:28
oh and Extropunk the snooker tables in the BBC have moved upstairs if you'd missed these. Though I agree the loss of these downstairs hasn't helped the place.
theoneandonlyjoe - 23 Mar 2011 02:18
I went in here after the refurb and i have to say I agree with the previous posters on it, not one for the better. The idea of the pizza bar is one that I can see being great on paper but didn't work for me in practise. The backroom area was always my favourite part of the old Clarence which now feels too much like an extension of the kitchen.

Gone are a lot of the more interesting furniture that seemed to be fairly unique to the Clarence (or at least not so common) in has come some more standardised pub furniture.

The brightness of the lights has shot up which for me is not a good thing (insert joke here). Overall the refurb has gone further to make this feel like a restaurant that serves beer than a pub. As my biggest complaint about the old Clarence was that I occaisionally felt like this was the case this really hasn't helped my opinion of the place.

I appreciate the comments from the owner on here and I'm sure the extra opening windows, air conditioning and extension of the toilets makes for an improved pub and it's good to see that you are thinking of the little things that can improve a place as well. That said I've never heard anyone say 'let's go to such and such a pub. It's got great toilets and air conditioning.' The atmosphere and feel to the place has dipped in my opinion. I'll probably be back to give this place another go but certainly first impressions did not bode well.
theoneandonlyjoe - 23 Mar 2011 02:17
Walked in on Saturday for a soul restoring pint, took one look at the (Harry Potter inspired?) mural on the wall and walked straigh out. Probably in no position to judge then.....but I will!

The Clarence was a favourite for all drinking purooses: lazy sunday sessions, friday/saturday night drinking or a quick drink after work. Seems to have lost its atmosphere.Will have to cross ito ff my list of options - just as well Tooting is picking up on the pub front.
stix - 22 Mar 2011 14:07
I think Gingerpiston (someone that clearly embraces his prawn-ness) is bang on.

Scott...you did a great job on the original Clarence in my opinion. Loved the table top video game and the sectionalised feel of the Pub...the clock area, the table football room for those that like the back room feel, the cute little quadrangle terrace and the thrown together miss matched furniture...

But since the refurb The Clarence has lost much of what set the pub apart from the crowd in Balham, Clapham, and the up and coming area of Tooting Bec.

Mediterranean coffee shop/pizza bar meets airport lounge meets a student union bar thanks to the mural...is a pretty good sum up...

Looking at a Big Red Bus on the wall that's destined for Hangover Square makes me want to get all 7/7 on it's arse...

The pizza oven is a grand idea but the resulting decor in the back room feels out of place and desolate. Bye bye to table football...what a shame.

Where is my courtyard...? I loved that little getaway...a good place to meet smoking locals...and even a few smoking hotties..

The trend to make pubs into restaurants that serve beer is disconcerting and cynical. Everyone knows pubs make more money from food than beer, but does that mean we have to have wall to wall tables like the old Tup...now called The Regent...the BBC has traded snooker tables for a soulless eating auditorium...and now we have this at the Clarence? sheesh!!!

And do we really need the front of house table under the stairs...couldn't a grungy pinball machine or my beloved table top video game be returned.

Recently I surveyed some of my local pubs...as I was a little bored...this is what I sent to my friends...please let me know your thoughts on my ratings...especially Scot...and please note Scot...I think you have some of the best staff in the area but I think the refurb has lost it's way a little bit...

BALHAM (or nearby) PUBS AND BARS according to Extropunk

Ratings are scored by how many pints you would be happy to have in one session at the pubs below:-

Avalon - Never should have changed it's name from George Hotel but offers good beer garden, decent beers although too restauranty, plenty of smoking areas
Rating: 4 Pints

BBC – generally good, busy weekends. Top sausage rolls but sometimes a struggle to get tomato sauce with them, annoyingly the front room is almost always booked out
Rating: 6 pints

Bedford – OK pub, food not bad, potentially good gigs and comedy, has character
Rating: 5 pints

Clarence – now ruined due to refurb...previously a seven pinter
Rating: 1 pint

Devonshire – fine but lacking in character, good beer garden is summer, reliable food
Rating: 3 pints

Firefly - not a pub or a destination but beer is good, an 'en route' or 'wait for a mate' pub
Rating: 2 Pints

Regent - has no idea whether it's a sports bar, restaurant or pub...certainly is not a pub - benefits from half price food on Sunday and Monday nights
Rating: 1 Pint

Wheatsheaf - good crowd, good vibe, food yet untried
Rating: 5 pints

The Exhibit - Good chick action on Saturday Nights, over priced beer (though good quality), good fish tank, untried food but offers experience nights and has own cinema
Rating: 4 Pints

The Hope - well-to-do Wandsworthy crowd aside the pub offers good food, decent beer and a friendly vibe...good for Sunday arvo sessions
Rating: 5 Pints
Extropunk - 16 Mar 2011 12:48
I have admit to being a traditionalist at heart but things do change and life goes on. I did not know this pub before the refurb so my first impression is of a pleasant airy bar with a continental feel. The keg beer choice supports this with an intelligent selection of UK and continental beers. The two real ales were well received by my companions and I believe that the guest ale changes quite often.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 15 Mar 2011 16:01
GVF and GingerPiston, sorry you're not feeling positive about the refurb. I'm the person responsible for the both of the refurbs.
!/3 of the furniture is the same as pre makeover and the new stuff, far from being modern, plastic, shiny. It is in fact classic bentwood furniture that you find in pubs everywhere, just coloured a little differently.
Obviously the dog lights, mural and coloured furniture is not going to be to everyone's taste. Not everyone like everything when I opened 5 years ago.
There's quite alot more to the refurb than just what you can see. There is now a vastly improved Air Con system, 3 extra ladies cublcles, All of the front windows now open and the kitchen downstairs has doubled in size to imporve the food offering and s
thebishop - 10 Mar 2011 08:44
GVF and GingerPiston, sorry you're not feeling positive about the refurb. I'm the person responsible for the both of the refurbs.
!/3 of the furniture is the same as pre makeover and the new stuff, far from being modern, plastic, shiny. It is in fact classic bentwood furniture that you find in pubs everywhere, just coloured a little differently.
Obviously the dog lights, mural and coloured furniture is not going to be to everyone's taste. Not everyone like everything when I opened 5 years ago.
There's quite alot more to the refurb than just what you can see. There is now a vastly improved Air Con system, 3 extra ladies cublcles, All of the front windows now open and the kitchen downstairs has doubled in size to imporve the food offering and service.
I hope you'll come and give it another chance.

Regards
Scott
thebishop - 10 Mar 2011 08:44
Having just undergone renovation, I thought I'd pop into one of my favourite local pubs for a quick pint last night. I'm not sure who signed off on the renovations, but I'm sure it can't have been the same person that made it the success it has been for the last 5 years.

Gone is the pub everyone loves, full of character with interesting furniture and an overall sense of warmth. In it's place is what looks like a dreadful cross between pizza cafe, student union bar (complete with dire wall mural including a joke which looks tired after 30 seconds) and soulless airport lounge. The furniture is now modern, plastic, shiny and horrifically coloured, the lighting is too bright and we now suffer an overabundance of dog lamps and statues to remind us where The Clarence took it's name from originally.

At least the staff remain friendly and helpful, and the original bar survived the slaughter mostly intact. However, what remains no longer looks or feels like a pub, and I fear Balham has now lost one of it's nicer venues to spend time with friends.


GingerPiston - 3 Mar 2011 20:55
To me, The Clarence is NOT a pub!
Its a cafe for mothers with prams and screaming children...
the colours are bright, there are only stools...a kinda "glorified" pizza place that serves beer too.
Sorry, NOT MY KIND OF PUB
GVF - 1 Mar 2011 18:19
It's not shut down, just refurbing! :) Open again Feb 2011.
jcreedy - 24 Jan 2011 12:19
I think The Clarence has shut down. So sad. Hopefully it's just a refurb!
jcreedy - 24 Jan 2011 11:23
I love this pub, everyone in there is amazing, especially cesca. foods pretty tasty too.
ilovepubstobits - 13 Sep 2010 12:34
A nice pub, decent beers, shame about the sour faced barmaid who made us feel like we were putting her out by just having the gaul to ask for a drink, it wouldnt hurt to smile a bit.
rovers74 - 1 Sep 2010 12:29
What a great place! The bar staff are friendly, polite, helpful and actually look like they want to work there. They offer table service, the food is good value and very tasty, there is a patio (occasionally heated only) at the back and outdoor seating to the side which are ideal for a comfortable smoke. The only minus point is that the loos seem to be soap-free! I cannot recommend this bar highly enough - it makes such a change to go to a bar that actually seems to value your business. A definite 9/10.
Adam1974 - 20 Apr 2010 17:19
Brilliant service, Brilliant Beer, Brilliant Food... well not much else to say!
fromage - 27 Jul 2009 09:45
Far too noisy for my liking... Has many things going for it, good beers and handsome pub, but something doesnt do it for me. Maybe i am being unfair, but it lacks something, its a bar really, not at all a pub.
jamesbartlett74 - 19 Jul 2009 22:31
Thomas, thanks for taking the time to reply.
Your original posting was 10 months ago but there are still staff with me from then.
Firstly I apologise profusely, that is not an attitude I condone in staff. Secondly, can you remember what he looked like ?
Regards
Scott
thebishop - 5 Jun 2009 11:08
yeah I dont mind elaborating - albeit quite a bit later and I doubt the guy works there anymore.

I went to the bar and stood waiting (i'm 6'3 and your bar is relatively small so its not hard to notice me) and basically one of your male barstaff served only women. Time and time again, it was fairly busy, but everytime a pretty looking woman would come to the bar he would serve them next.

I let this go on for about 5 customers (I was on the left side and so wasn't being picked up by the staff on the right). Until I'd had enough and asked him politely if he could serve me next. To which basically he took some smug attitude and said I wasn't as pretty as the other customers he was serving.

I didn't lamp him but i should've. To be fair, my mate lives a stones throw from your pub and i've been back since with no issues but it only takes a single experience like that to turn customers away.


thomasgx1 - 1 Jun 2009 13:17
Great pub, fantastic beer. Could be a bit noisy on a Friday and a Saturday but maybe I'm jus getting old? Food's good too. Did I mention the beer? Best in Balham. If they could just knock the volumne down by 5 per cent and maybe make it a bit less crowded on Fri and Sat, I'd live here.
chaser65 - 6 Mar 2009 15:14
Have been to The Clarence a number of times over the past few months and have always had a great time. The decoration is fun and comfortable and the staff have always been friendly and helpful. The perfect place to enjoy a drink with friends.
h_pen - 20 Oct 2008 12:26
Had an excellent couple of pints of Budvar in here the other night, only complaint is that the food (although tasty) is 4 or 5 pounds too expensive for the area.

Best pub in Balham i reckon though.
MrCeiling - 26 Sep 2008 11:01
Thomas,

I am very sorry about your bad experiences.

Do you think you could elaborate so I can try and find the person/persons responsible ?

Kind regards,

Scott
thebishop - 11 Aug 2008 11:08
every time i've been in this bar the staff have been rude. i wont lose sleep as i'm sure they wont. i'll continue to drink elsewhere :O)
thomasgx1 - 4 Aug 2008 16:20
I've been in a couple of times since my last posting and just wanted to say that each visit raises my opinion of the place. OK I still stand by my comments that this is much more focused towards food but what really helps to impress me is the staff. They are without doubt some of the friendliest bar staff I've come across. They always seeem to serve with a smile and are a credit to the place. The last time I went in my friends an I sat in the back section and pretended not to notice the reserved sign on the table (very bad I know but there were no other free tables and no one was sitting there) the girl that saw this politely and correctly told us that we would have to move which we did with no complaints. Later on she searched for us and found us as soon as another table was free. OK it's just a small point but when I've done this before in similar circumstances in differant pubs I've had a very surley and aggresive response and so thought this was really nice.

A piece of advice to the manager DO NOT lose these staff they are part of what makes this place good
theoneandonlyjoe - 16 Apr 2008 13:49
I've got mixed views on this place to be honest. The front section is definately not a pub but is a restaurant. The back part however is definately a pub and is really nice does feel a little like it's been tagged on as an after thought after someone said 'hey isn't this supposed to be a pub?'. The restaurant style front part and close confines of the back (which one group can easily fill) means that you should expect to meet anyone new when you go there and the atmosphere suffers for it.
On the plus side the food is really good (as you'd hope from a restaurant), the staff are excellent and the selection of beers is also really good. I actually really liked the Budvar black but I guess thats personal taste for you. As such I really don't know how to score it as a fairly nice restaurant 8/10 as a straight pub 4/10. I'd say go there to get something to eat and then head on somewhere else for the rest of your evening.
theoneandonlyjoe - 7 Apr 2008 16:23
Best pub in Balham.
rockd1509 - 11 Mar 2008 00:34
lovely grub. one of the best things about Balham is this place.
lekman - 1 Mar 2008 12:20
Best pub in Balham.

Good selection of beer, great food and nice atmosphere.
frankston - 11 Jan 2008 18:53
Brilliant pub- the bar staff are very friendly and good at suggesting different beers to try.

Food is lovely- especially the roast dinners!
EllyE - 29 Nov 2007 16:27
fine
–adjective

1. of superior or best quality; of high or highest grade
2. choice, excellent, or admirable

Not cheap, not rustic... slick, sophisticated and quality. The food is the best gastro fare you will find in Balham, worth every penny. Some excellent beers on tap too. Wine list is superb.
bib9 - 15 Nov 2007 14:28
dear asnootyfox

A Loof (–adjective):

reserved or reticent; indifferent; disinterested: 'Because of his shyness, he had the reputation of being aloof'.

I would be inclined to agree with everything except 'disinterested'

thebishop - 5 Sep 2007 09:04
Dear pejpm,
still a tough customer eh?

You should be pleased to know that 'the duke of devonshore' will close in october for £500k refurb....
scott
thebishop - 5 Sep 2007 09:01

Budvar served properly and good staff. Fun menu. Dog Clarence is a sweety - owner aloof! OK middle-of-the-road pub with some interesting lighting...
asnootyfox - 23 Aug 2007 22:25
It's OK here, but like the Bishop it's pretty soulless. I dont mind it as a meeting point, but I much prefer the Devonshire across the road. I've never found it particularly comfortable here. It's like the coldplay of pubs, nothing particularly offensive but nothing to get excited about either.
pejpm - 23 Aug 2007 16:31
Included in my full English was the sum total of two mushrooms!
It seemed very stingey.
ONscotland - 13 Jun 2007 09:58
TEST
ONscotland - 13 Jun 2007 09:56
Bettyboo, our full english includes....sausages, bacon, beans, toast, scrambled or fried eggs & mushrooms. How is that fussy ? What would you like to see it include ?

best wishes

scott
thebishop - 6 Jun 2007 18:42
Great food(especially the hot dogs), tasty cider and lovely staff. One of my favourites in Balham, although i can't wait until 1st July as it does get too smokey. My only issue is the brunch menu - the breakfast is trying too be too fussy, whatever happened to a good old Full English?
BettyBoo27 - 5 Jun 2007 15:54
Sorry you feel like that Alex.
I doubt you will find the same high quality products we stock, in a comparable environment, any cheaper. We have also had a budget since 'the clarence' has opened 16 months ago...

scott
thebishop - 30 May 2007 10:06
Good pub, but since its opened all the beers have gone up in price. Both bottles and pints are well over priced.
alexjones - 24 May 2007 17:29
Went in last night for a couple. Very good bar staff! Having ordered my two drinks I was approched by other members of staff three times to check i was being served!
Good selection of drinks.

rentamook - 25 Apr 2007 12:22
Really good place- shame it gets so smoky, but July 1st should change all that. Really friendly and attentive bar staff, good choice and selection, food is slightly over-priced for what it is, but it is good.
Highly recommended in the Balham area
Jackdawbob - 8 Mar 2007 10:38
Returned recently and even more impressed.

It seems to have really carved out a strong identity and invested in staff and products. Service is very good and the staff are chatty, friendly and considerate – it makes such a difference.

Although still only two Adnams on (Oyster was lovely though) I did give the other stuff a go and the selection of keg and bottle beers was refreshingly varied and interesting. The beer is on the pricey side (£3 for a pint of Oyster is one of the most expensive ale I have ever bought), although compared to the rest of Balham, the few pence extra is worth it. I haven’t eaten in there but the menu looks wide-ranging and interesting (i.e. venison lasagne) and acceptably priced.

Head and shoulders above everywhere else in Balham and definitely one of my top 10 pubs; quite a statement from an ale enthusiast but that is the mark of quality.

PS. Found Budvar Dark a bit lightweight for such a dark beer, lacking the body and wholesomeness of porters or stouts.
AleKing - 1 Mar 2007 12:29
This is a great pub. The Adnams Oyster beer that they serve is fabulous, and the service is always with a cheery smile.
ONscotland - 19 Feb 2007 17:48
we are in the process of putting a beer list together.....
thebishop - 8 Feb 2007 10:44
This isn't a bad place at all. There is a fairly decent beer selection in here although only one real ale on my visit. However, shall return.

How about a beer menu? I didn't see one. It would help when it's busy and for people intimidated by the unusual!!
mitomighty - 6 Feb 2007 10:57
Popped in for lunch a few days ago - quiet for a lunchtime but the food was very good

Budvar was tremendous!

The eclectic decor works well - many different light shades and chairs. Don't know what the pub is like in an evening but would definitely return for lunch
murgatroyd - 21 Jan 2007 18:37
Glad to hear that the selection of beers has been thought out. Maybe it's just that I personally am not a massive fan of budvar.

I've been here again though and did especially enjoy a reasonably priced vegetarian hot dog.

Make no mistake about it, this is a good place. It is busy on a Sunday lunchtime, but not so far to the point where it's too difficult to get a table or service becomes unacceptably slow.
TFP - 5 Jan 2007 11:37
I have been popping in for a few months now and I have to say this a top pub. Beers are good, service is friendly and there is always a good buzz on. Sunday roasts are rather jolly and some of the fillys that frequent the place are just lovely.
anonymous - 17 Dec 2006 19:36
scorchio75 , thankyou for your kind words

TFP, glad to here you were 'reasonably impressed'. Any pointers you can let us have for impressing you a little more would be gratefully received. We value any feedback we receive.

The premium lager we do stock is 'Budvar'. We chose this because it has won more gold medals than you can shake a stick at , and is so devoid of chemicals and additives that is suitable for vegans. I can assure you of one thing, after years of exhaustive beer tasting ...none of the beers we stock are novelty lines. They all sell well, which is indicative of consumer's ever broadening tastes.

cheers

scott
thebishop - 5 Dec 2006 12:42
When The Clarence opened, myself and my friends were worried that it would turn into another 'Exhibit' or, worse still, slide even further into the depths of it's predecessors on the same site.

Luckily, we've been proved totally wrong -the food on our half-a-dozen visits (over the last few weeks) had been excellent, and the lack of 'standard' premium lagers is a blessing in itself. Having a bar stocked with the relative oddities that it has forces you to be a bit more adventurous than, "Just another pint of Stella."

The staff have been really friendly -and we've even managed to book a table for 20 on the Saturday before Xmas, without any restrictions on menu choices. Bravo!

(And the eponymous Clarence is a darling!)
scorchio75 - 4 Dec 2006 18:57
I went there this Sunday and was reasonably impressed.

Pretty good, reasonably priced, food, good service, and decent atmosphere.

The selection of draft beers seemed to be leaning a little bit too far towards "novelty" lines [e.g. the white/blonde/raspberry beers] at the expense of perhaps a couple of good solid premium lagers, but good overall I'd say.
TFP - 4 Dec 2006 12:53
Just like a modern pub should be. A great selection of beers, really friendly staff and a nice atmosphere. The food is excellent and drinks prices are reasonable for London. The best in Balham.
anonymous - 25 Nov 2006 15:38
I love the Clarence. A great selection of beers, questions about them answered by really friendly staff, and tastey food to boot. Plus a nice little courtyard area for when the sun is shining. I love to visit during the day, as evenings (especially weekends) is standing room only.
ONscotland - 26 Oct 2006 17:37
I love this pub! the decor is brilliant, friendly staff and they make the best white wine spritzers! in a wine glass, with soda water and a slice of lemon!! keep it up...
pink_kat - 26 Sep 2006 12:03
The Clarence is my local, and since it opened, my flatmates and I just cannot get enough of it. You have fantastic beer/cider and mix of spirits the dress code is very relaxed and very cool, the staff are always very friendly and service is very quick. There is also some very attractive women working in there as well as drinking there.
What I love though is the fact that no body in there appears to fit the mould of the people in the Exhibit where every body seems a bit up there own arse, the service is good, the poeple are great and the drinks are fantastic! As for the food, I have eaten there a number of times and it has been fantastic, I even took the olds there on a Sunday proving it can cater for everyones needs.
See you this Friday for some more of that awesome Cider
bennysawks - 20 Sep 2006 09:30
dear rairch,
my apologies for not responding to your comments earlier. Would you be able to tell me which sunday you had your terrible experience at the Clarence ? It would help me work out who was working and ensure that these problems do not reoccur.

regards

scott
thebishop - 1 Sep 2006 09:19

I've been to this pub a couple of times & always been very impressed the food was excellent & the budvar Dark decidedly moreish. However after my most recent visit on Sunday my opinion has distinctly changed. Our food when it appeared after a 45 min wait (nothing wrong with this it was half two on a Sunday) was entirely unimpressive. The slow roast pork was fatty, greasy & somewhat undercooked which is not generally my opinion of 'slow-roast', One of our parties main meals did not turn up & it wasn't until we managed to flag down one of the staff (a feat in itself) that anyone went off to look for it (remarkable as it was the same staff member who had brought the other three peoples food) & a missing side order. At the same time we also ordered another glass of wine. Well eventually the missing meal turned up but we had to flag down another member of staff 15 minutes later to re-order the glass of wine (the staff member we had ordered from was stood behind the bar polishing glasses). A sad disappointment from a put which until now I would have rated as the best in Balham, it's as if now they've won their award they just don't care anymore.
rairch - 21 Aug 2006 17:13
I came back here the other week (hadn't been since the Balham Arms days) and I liked what they had done with it.

The decor is a bid off - with some pubby kind of aspects with more traditional bar stuff - but it works.

Although there was only a couple of Adnams on ale-wise, there was an attractive selection of continental beers (I can’t vouch on the brewing standards as I stuck to the ale) that were new to me - such as the Budvar Dark. I’ll give them a go on my return though.

Speaking to the bar folk and apparently it is an independent pub, so no ties to big nasty breweries that tarnish watering holes with the likes of Fosters and Carling, meaning they are free to buy some interesting and rare beers.

It gets my seal of approval and I would urge people to ditch the dreary drudgery of The Bedford, The Exhibit or The Balham Tup, go here instead and try some of those beers.
AleKing - 28 Jun 2006 17:09
this pub gets my vote - welcome addition to Balham in my eyes. Great selection of beers and like most before enjoyed the Budvar Dark. Tasty food along with attentive service and ambience make this a pub hard to fault...oh and they also sell aspalls cider - love it! keep it up fellas - I will be back.
big_dog - 28 Jun 2006 16:52
The Clarence deserves to win the pub of the year for many a reason. Foremost, I believe that the Clarence has shown that London pubs (and not just bars) can be dynamic, breaking from the traditional and somewhat boring mould. And it does this while still just ‘being a pub’ and not trying to be more than what it should.

Secondly, the pub has made a very conscious decision to sell a huge range of premium beers, the majority of which would be unfamiliar to the average consumer. Starting a pub in this fashion is a risk which most pubs, unfortunately, believe will alienate potential customers. I applaud the Clarence for taking such risk, which thankfully has proved to be a great success. If only we had a similar unique beer selection in every pub…

As for everything else, food is great and exactly what is needed in between a few Kolsch beers!


jmati - 16 Jun 2006 18:00
The Clarence is a nice bar/pub and has many good qualities; attentive staff, nice beer range, eclectic decor, an uncomplicated menu and an understated confidence in what it provides. This is worthy of many brownie points. I do feel, though, that there is something missing there and I can't quite put my finger on it. Myself & two friends went there on a gorgeous summers evening, expecting to be amazed but were left feeling hollow & cold. Will try again soon.
I should imagine it's location helped win it pub of the year award from the Evening Standard. Blimey, even Waitrose wants to be in Balham now. Rather!

rjbradburnesq - 8 Jun 2006 12:16
wondefully thoughtful;
a pleasure to be in.
emilia - 2 Jun 2006 21:26
I like the Clarence; in terms of beer, service, food, music, ambience and attitude it is hard to fault, so I take issue with Robertstone’s comments. Personally, I like the originality of the décor; they have made an effort to create a fresh, inviting look. The Clarence is not ostentatious, exclusive nor trying to be anything that is not, quite the contrary. As for mocking the itinerant unfortunates on the street, that is rather scraping the barrel; indeed it is commendable that this pub thrives and brings a bit of class to the area. You come across like a bitter, suspicious malcontent sir; perhaps you need more Budvar dark to give this dog the bone.
mooky - 11 May 2006 18:54
pretentious, bad decor, how they won 'Pub of the Year' when they have only been open two minutes baffles me. Surely such an accolade requires more of a history of exellence rather than a pay off and a fancy meal for the standard reviewers. The garden does however features beautiful views of the post office and the tramps and loonies usually sat outside it. Like the Budvar dark though. They need to keep 'Charlie' and his 'Bolivian marching powder' out of the loos.
Robertstone - 11 May 2006 00:37
Congratulations to Scott, Hayden, Paul and the team for the well deserved accolade:
The Evening Standard Pub of the Year 2006. (and in record time!)

All the best of luck for your continued success.
anonymous - 4 May 2006 17:44
great first impression matched with good service & music. The beer is a bonus with a wide range and a few you will struggle to find elsewhere. Top notch but I hear things can busy so the word must have already got out.
I think they have taken a lot of business off Exihibt.
I'll be going back to try the food.
tobyh - 4 May 2006 15:45
Original looking new bar/pub. Looks like they have made a little more effort than the usuall 'make-overs', and they have a great choice of continental lagers and ales.
I would be happy having a pint here at any time of the day and any day of the week.
propertyking - 26 Apr 2006 16:22
Well its named after the lovely dog so its bound to be great.
anonymous - 30 Mar 2006 21:56
Great new place, good ambience and music, really friendly staff, table service, great food and varied wine and beer list. Would definitely recommend.....
anonymous - 29 Mar 2006 09:24
This an excellent pub with a wide selection of interesting beers, I think there are ten on tap. The Beamish was lovely and dark Budvar truly was a revelation. The decor is contemporary, inviting and full of beans. I was warmly greeted by knowledgeable staff who continued to be charming and fit. I have been in several times and cursed myself for not eating here sooner; the food is a lot better than it needs to be. The wine list also impressed me, as did the VFM. The good people of Balham should be proud of this puppy, it should be noted that the team here have put a lot of effort into setting up and running every aspect of this bar. Full marks and I hope you nail the Evening Standard Pub of the Year award.
mooky - 28 Mar 2006 14:06
s'ok i guess.... but not much competition locally, that must be what all the fuss is about
anonymous - 28 Mar 2006 11:40
i'll chime in with mattoneill20 - this is a great pub, best in the area by some way...only pub where you can go at any time in the day and get some value
fat_geo - 27 Mar 2006 12:55
This place is really great, just been open 5 weeks or so but the drinks are brilliant, food even better and decor also superb
mattoneill20 - 27 Mar 2006 12:31
I've been here several times now, I just can't help myself. Food is fantastic, some of the best fish, chips and mushy peas I have EVER had. Venison chilli con carne is awesome. My wife LOVES the mussels and our friends who we took the other night thought the oysters were lovely. I can't recommend this place highly enough and definitely have some food when you visit, even if its just the houmous, as they give you a little spicy thing on the side which is yummy.
richierich - 9 Mar 2006 11:31
Pub Gold! Great food, fab variety of drinks, lovely people and service that makes you feel like everything's going to be alright... Love the quirky dali-esque wall of different sized mirrors and clocks, though not so sure about the mini lampshades and the staghorns?!?. Definitely pop into this place if you're in Balham
tatiana_petite - 3 Mar 2006 13:01
Fabulously friendly and helpful bar staff. Love the bar seats at the front overlooking the high st & the chunky chips are truely delicious! Definately will be back to sample more of the food & drink menu! A great addition to the Balham bar scene!
anonymous - 3 Mar 2006 11:37
Nice bar with lots of interesting drinks. Friendly too. Nice seats. I like this place.

anonymous - 2 Mar 2006 23:27
Having been impressed by the Bishop was relieved to hear of the arrival of Clarence having been a recent victim of a number of shocking meals at Balham's only real other Gastro type pub the execrable Grove. Popped in for a quick drink and a bite and i can echo the sentiments below. Without any doubt this is the best pub in Balham, drinks, food and ambience were all top notch and the table service great....waitresses extremely easy on the eye.
Harry5 - 1 Mar 2006 13:02
SN14, glad you enjoyed the clarence. I also own the castle in camberwell which I believe you also visited and enjoyed.

Cheers

scott
thebishop - 27 Feb 2006 21:12
My new favourite pub! Spent a very pleasant Sunday night enjoying the great selection of beer and tucking in to a delicious dinner (good menu for both meat eaters and veggies). The atmosphere is relaxed and the friendly table service is fantastic. Will be going back again and again.
sn14 - 27 Feb 2006 15:33
Funky pub with good selection of beers, very friendly staff, good quality food and an eclectic music selection.

Well worth a visit !!
anonymous - 22 Feb 2006 13:15
The Clarence, named after their in-house dog. I've been to The Bishop (one of their other pubs), so I've been keeping an eye on this dastardly duo. I love what they're doing. I was there with my family, 3 children, one dog and a wife, it was great. Food was fantastic, all the correct temperature, lovely choice of menu, reasonably priced, etc. Staff were very friendly and as its a new place they weren't too sure about everything but they went out of their way to help. Try the Budvar Dark, I was very pleasantly surprised. I could easily go here with a bunch of blokes and have a great time as well
richierich - 20 Feb 2006 15:32

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