The Blind Tiger, Clapham

The Blind Tiger Afternoon tea

My bargain specialist friend Ead had a voucher to the Blind Tiger and I was lucky to be her plus one. I arrived at the discreet black door, pressed on the intercom and waited for a head to appear in the sliding hatch to grant me entrance.

And so the ‘illicit dining and prohibited beverages’ experience began.

Le Fooding

The Blind Tiger mixes some mean cocktails. The bright pink Bellini with its fruity sweet flavour was so lovely that Ead ordered a second one before we left. I chose the oldest cocktail I could find: the Georgia Mint Julep, documented in print in 1790 as a medication against malaria. It was one stiff drink – I imagined the gentleman back in the day with his thick bushy moustache that would’ve drank this.

The teas were supplied by Teapigs. Their silver tips white tea was really clear and refreshing which complemented the food well. E ordered the English Breakfast which gave that warm, golden brown post-milk pour as any decent English Breakfast should give.

The delectable sandwiches were well presented but some were deceivingly difficult to eat without looking uncouth. The roast beef, horseradish and watercress – my favourite – was guilty of this, forcing me to tear that piece of meat apart like a famished lion.

The cheese and pickle and duck liver pafait with its damson cheese both played the sucré salé very well. The wafer thin cucumber slices needed extra layers to make the sandwich more remarkable but delicious all the same. The smoked salmon and dill on a thick slice of poppy seed bread was a not-so-easy-to-eat blini like its roast beef counterpart.

With any afternoon tea, I look forward to the patisseries the most but was let down by their offering.  The cupcake was dry and was only rescued by its velvety buttercream whilst this banana flavoured slice with a layer of custard was rubbery.  Luckily they were rescued by a plain, rich buttery biscuit, slightly crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle and the scones. Oh the scones! The lightest, airiest scones I’ve ever had.

Le Branding

With their strapline ‘illicit dining and forbidden beverages’ and promotion of the idea of ‘a secret hideaway’, you’d expect The Blind Tiger wants to keep itself discreet. Just like a real speakeasy back in the prohibition days. Yet as one or two people have already noted, this is far from the case – it seems like the place has potentially missed a trick in its branding.  Still, the staff’s dress, the choice of cocktails, the décor and the music pays a lovely tribute to the era.

And with that, I leave you with the rich, smooth musical tones of Steve Morrison who, for me, created the real old American speakeasy atmosphere.

Steve Morrison with his train whistle