HOOD, STREATHAM HILL

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In a landscape scarred by takeaway after takeaway and the odd pub or two, where decent eateries few and far between, Hood’s arrival could not have been more welcome.

The full house on a Tuesday evening in July is testament to the resounding success of this new arrival. This venture was partly crowd-funded and it’s nice to see that the founders, brother and sister duo, Robin and Melanie Frean, haven’t forgotten the support that got them where they are. You can’t miss the charming tribute to the wealth of financial backers whose names adorn the walls.

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The drinks menu is awash with local beers and ciders, enough to offer even the eager aficionado with a selection of new brews to choose from. Likewise the cocktail rotation, although pricey, is thoughtfully crafted. We are both beguiled by the idea of a sloe gin martini so plump for two of the same.

The food menu, from what I can tell, has some consistent favourites such as the Norfolk chicken with spring slaw but is adapted with the seasons and availability. We started with a special – Watermelon, heritage tomato and feta salad. It was light and refreshing although, if were to be a bit of a stickler, I would contest the tomatoes’ ‘heritage’ credentials, but that’s by the by. We gobbled it up.

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From the mains the pan-fried fillet of hake with nduja spiced beans and Shetland mussels was the clear winner, so much so that, despite typically wanting to spread our choices and go halves, neither my friend nor I could face the idea of sacrificing half so we ordered a portion apiece.

Best decision we could have made. It was perfect. The fish was flakey and soft, the skin crispy enough to eat and the beans exceedingly tasty with the nduja just warming you mouth gently a little more with every bite.

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Dessert had to be the signature snap, crackle and pop – not strawberry but elderflower and gooseberry on our visit. I’m not entirely sure we knew what to make of it because, put simply, it’s a rice krispie ice cream sandwich with elderflower jelly. It wasn’t altogether as unpleasant as it sounds, very reminiscent of childhood parties but I’m not convinced I’d order it again – the dark chocolate tart with salted peanut parfait sounds more my bag.

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The only slightly bum note was some of the service. Generally it was fine although we were terrifically taken aback at being asked how much service we were going to add so that the waiter could add it to our card charge, something that, I firmly believe, should be at your discretion.

Maybe he felt he was being worked too hard and deserved the extra cash… “We’re a victim of our own success,” he bemoaned. I’m not entirely sure how we were supposed to interpret that but you’re not likely to see me shedding any tears. On the contrary, I felt quite buoyed by the whole thing.

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What a nice little place to have just down the road. Would it hold up to it’s rivals in town with a similar price tag? If I’m being honest, I’m inclined to say possibly not. It would, however, stand shoulder to shoulder with some. The neighbourhood is crying out for a culinary overhaul so I can only cross my fingers, close my eyes and hope that it is a sign of more to come. Budding restaurateurs take a punt; Streatham is enthusiastic and waiting.

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