Posh but pleasant, is this southerly suburb the most civilised in the city?
Why go there?
It’s between three commons (Wandsworth, Clapham and Tooting Bec) so it’s greener than a boatload of landlubbers adrift on the Irish Sea. What’s the vibe? Understated affluence. Pedigree dogs. Lots of really nice schools. Traffic jams caused by Ocado delivery vans.
What’s that smell?
Could be Moxon’s Fish Bar next to Clapham South tube, one of the finest chippies in London.
Any celebs about?
You’re unlikely to bump into Adele or Tinie Tempah these days, not even down the local Waitrose. But the Bedford pub (Bedford Hill) and its Banana Cabaret have attracted many comedians who have gone on to stardom: Al Murray, Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Eddie Izzard.
How about a local delicacy?
Balham’s kept sated with good yet affordable places to eat: Lamberts on Station Parade is the best, a smart British restaurant with terrific cooking. It also has several decent cafés, including, on Balham Hill, the Georgian (as in the country). Try the khachapuri (cheese bread).
Where’s the party at?
You have well-mannered Balham confused with neighbouring Clapham. But for a late-night scene, the basement cocktail bar below Harrison’s (Bedford Hill) is open until 1am at the weekend.
Where can I have a nice sit down?
The two better commons (Clapham and Wandsworth) beckon, and you’re never far from a good off-licence if you want to make a proper picnic of it. New beer shop We Brought Beer on Hildreth Street is the place to pick up a ‘growler’.
And if I only do one thing?
Hildreth Street is being revamped for both food market stalls (Monday to Saturday) and pedestrians. In the meantime, you can admire the cut of the locals’ jib from fashionable café M1lk, while enjoying its fab coffee and brunches.
By Guy Dimond, who wants to live with the common people.