Simon Still gets his teeth into his tasty local
I declare an interest. The King & Co, celebrating its third birthday, is my local. I regularly lose myself here amidst the eclectic junk shop décor, relaxing vibe and good company. The lighting is warm and at a level that makes it intimate. The well chosen music is audible but not intrusive. In winter there’s a fire in the hearth. The staff are friendly and attentive.
While beer is in the foreground, no mass market lagers, double measures or jagerbombs keeps things relaxed with parents playing scrabble with their children mingling with the post work crowd and local weekenders.
The beer selection is excellent – five ales, a dozen keg beers, regular brewery “tap takeovers” and, recently, King & Co’s “home” brews. There’s a good bottled beer menu, a decent wine list and pre-made cocktails. But that’s not the full story. My local has become home to an ever-changing series of pop-up kitchen takeovers.
Current occupants Tem Ban Thai are in the kitchen Wednesday to Sunday until the end of October, while Taco Rebels cater for Monday night’s quiz, and ale club on Tuesdays (cask ales at £3.20).
Tem Ban head chef Craig Broadhurst has just returned with a suitcase full of spices after a month in the kitchens of Bo-Lan – one of Bangkok’s finest restaurants. The experience has served him well and his modern take on Thai food, with sometimes unconventional ingredients, is a refreshing change from the usual Thai standards.
We started with miang, tasty pintxo-like mouthfuls of smoked mackerel, lemongrass, peanut and chilli served on a betel leaf.
Our guinea fowl arrived wrapped in a banana leaf on a plate decorated with fresh herbs and a roll of crackling. This was gloves-off Thai – a punchy plate full of hot chilli and the funky flavour of fermented fish sauce. The soft-boiled egg and radishes were perfect antidote to the heat.
Red duck curry had minced duck topped with pink slices of quality duck breast in a sauce both rich and fresh. A simple plate of grilled corn was lifted by a salted coconut cream topping that also made it’s way into the mango sticky rice dessert.
Thai sweets can be hit and miss but this was a perfectly judged combination of sweet, sharp and salty complete with sprinkling of crispy shallot. Trust me – it works.
There’s a premium to pay – keg beer in particular is noticeably dearer than elsewhere and you can run up a hefty food bill if you hit the small plates hard.
Many pubs do something similar, but the attention to detail at the King & Co puts it a cut above the rest and the revolving door in the kitchen keeps things new and fresh.
100 Clapham Park Rd, SW4 7BZ | thekingandco.uk | 020 7498 1971 | @TheKingand Co