16a Clapham Common South side
London SW4 7AB
Tel: 020 7627 6257
The first thing to say about Honky Tonk is that it is a cool place to hang out for drinks, food or a combination of both. It’s open all day so you can drift in and out as you like. But you might want to think about what time you eat as this can be crucial.
We rocked up for Sunday lunch and it was fairly busy but we found a good table with a retro banquette along one side. This restaurant is homage to all things American and music based. The menus for example are covered in reproduction classic record sleeves. Ours had The Rolling Stones’ Street Fighting Man with the B-side No Expectations. Prophetic? Well not entirely.
The food is good, with Mex Tex options and great burgers. There is also a keenly healthy approach to the kids menus using quality ingredients, with a minimum of cooking oil and avoiding preservatives. There’s plenty to choose from, the boys kicked off with two astounding milkshakes. £5 each it might sound expensive but they are huge. Served in a retro milk bottle they look the real deal. A’s rich and creamy chocolate was dreamy while X’s banana and butterscotch was subtle and refreshing.
The striped floorboards and retro diner looks work well with food and the customers. It’s a good place to take your family for a blow out lunch. I had quesadillas for starters they came stuffed with home smoked chicken and cheddar, they were very good. M was keen to try the ‘love me tender’ ribs, the slow cooked beef (or pork if you prefer) come glazed in bourbon sauce. These only lasted about one minute with much finger licking afterwards. X and A both had buffalo wings which came in two varieties, peri peri for X and BBQ for A. The peri peri lacked any real heat so would be a good choice for a smaller child and the BBQ was as expected.
Our timing (which I mentioned earlier) was a bit off. A football match started while we were half way through the meal with the volume of the TV screens going up and up. If I were running this place I’d try and zone the audio for these event so you could find a quieter corner if you wanted to talk.
The mains were great, my classic American came fully loaded and (as I’d asked for an extra burger) was totally filling and tasted juicy and decadent. M’s bacon cheese dog (M is a bit of an expert on hotdogs and will always choose over a burger) was large topped with crispy bacon and a rather delicious onion marmalade and a bit of cheese. This was another winner. A had the ribs for his main and polished them off in no time. X went for the brave choice of fire in the hole, a chilli cornucopia of a burger that he loved (he has a strong stomach and relishes a heat challenge).
We could have chosen from a brunch menu if we liked. There is a lot on offer here and the menus are very playful and amusing with quotes and phrases peppering the food listings.
Desserts had their moments but I would say with one exception their strengths are savory. My key lime pie didn’t appear to have any lime in it at all with no sharp acidity you’d expect, it tasted fine but was really a cheesecake. M had some frozen yoghurt, which was all she could manage after the great dog. X tried Belgium waffles with strawberries, which he liked but couldn’t finish, as he was also so full. A on the other hand picked the out and out winner; mini chocolate fondue with warm chocolate, fresh strawberries, marshmallows, cookie and banana.
This was glorious and the best by far – if you go to Honky Tonk and I’d recommend you do, as the food is good you must try one of these. It’s hidden away on the children’s menu but is large enough for two to share.
We all enjoyed the food at Honky Tonk but the volume of the TV was a problem for us. They have a branch in Chelsea maybe there it is a touch more gentile and more suitable for a family lunch. On the other hand if you don’t mind about that sort of detail then head down to Clapham and enjoy the ride – Honky Tonk is great fun.