Honky Tonk, Clapham
‘I like a girl who can drink me under the table’, says the rosy cheeked boarding school boy as he rationalises last night’s raucous date. Honky Tonk is playful, extremely fun and the right sort of place for eating and drinking yourself silly on a Thursday night. Elegant it is not. The blaring positives are: it’s relaxed and unpretentious, it’s unashamedly focused on cocktail swilling and carb loading, and there’s enough exposed brick and low slung lighting to give it the character of a downtown New York feeding hole, thus rescuing it from the brink of tack. Although it sadly doesn’t attract the jovial pink shirt sporting LADS and Sandro-wearing young’uns that the Chelsea branch does, it’s still steadfastly committed to attracting a twentysomething crowd that likes to extend their meals well into the night by ordering bottles of wine on the half hour, for 3 hours, until midnight. This is perfect for a third date with someone who is a laugh a minute, a group date for 6 or a fuss free place to nurse a hangover and indulge in every American Diner dish there is, from sludge-thick milkshakes to burgers that refuse to be reined in by their buns.
Let’s not dwell on a conscientious food critique here; it’s American fare, well done, with enough cheese, chili and chocolate sauce for you to exclaim ‘oh this is indulgent’ as you subtly loosen your waistband and heckle your date to order another round of Mai Tais. The sticky pork ribs are bang on, accompanied by cheesy potato skins with beans (not mince pal, take it easy). For mains, go for two Honky Tonk burgers and be done with it. With salsa, guac, cheese, bacon, caramelised onions, lettuce, tomato and burger sauce, it’s a ballsy little fella and bloody good. Whatever you do, don’t order dessert. Although the Key Lime Pie is buttery and rich, it will kill the date as it sends you rocketing into a coma. Come back with friends for that, and the mud pie. And to drink? Well it’s Thirsty Thursday so start with a round of Marmalade Margaritas and then bottles of wine ad infinitum.
You live in Clapham, she lives in Battersea, it is a relationship of convenience as much as passion. The first two dates went very well indeed, with an East London speakeasy, then a Soho canteen. You had fun, you clearly get on, but from stories that slipped out about university days you suspect they have a propensity for juvenile drinking, and you’d like to see it. Schedule this for the end of the week and eat a tiny lunch. No need to meet at the station, it’s directly opposite. Get there and don’t wait drinking at the bar, you need to pace yourself. Once you’re seated, set the tone by oversharing an inappropriate story – you’re making sure your date knows that tonight is no holds barred. Order the drinks and flirt aggressively. Tell your date you’ll just order a bunch of stuff for both, then get back to the chat. Drink wine, go to town on the innuendo and stay till close. Then catch a cab to one of yours and make spoons.
It’s like an up-market university flashback, certainly not the place for a princess.
2. You overdid it.