Sideways in dine, The Fat Crab, Lavender Hill.

Last Updated on : 6th August 2021

When asked about my favourite cuisine, many of my friends joke that for me it must be seafood, as guess what I see food and I eat it ha ha. Well, I do enjoy seafood rather a lot, and so I was excited to spot one day whilst driving along that rather anonymous bit of Lavender Hill between Clapham Junction and Queenstown Road, the Clapham (it says here,) branch of mini chain the Fat Crab.

I was dining that evening with the entrepreneur. We arrived at 7pm on the dot for our reservation one hot mid-July Friday night. At first it looked like we’d be rattling around nearly by ourselves as only one other table was occupied, though it soon did get rather busier.

There are certain things you should know in advance about the fat crab. To start, there are no plates, and no cutlery…this is stated very clearly on the website which I obviously hadn’t read in any detail before going. The table is your plate, and your hands are your knives and forks, they also hand out bibs which I would highly recommend wearing. Also not as clearly stated you can bring your own wine and pay £5 corkage. A couple obviously more eagle eyed than me had done this and were quaffing down a fine champagne whilst the entrepreneur and I supped on meaner fare.

To be honest though the house white was an almost unheard of £15 and perfectly acceptable. It was a light and inoffensive, much like the restaurant’s interior. Drinks were generally cheap, but the menu though concise could be confusing.

What do I mean by that, well the starters consist of a good range of seafoods, such as prawns, scallops etc. These range between £6-£11 according to it seems to the snob value of each dish. We ordered some fried Cajun (sort of hot) prawns to share between us. To my delight these were served in a bowl, rather than just tipped onto the table as I’d feared, and were plentiful, tasty but perhaps not as spicy as I’d hoped.

The Fat Crab is the only place I’ve seen where you can order the coveted Tristran lobster. This comes from the remote mid Atlantic Island of Tristran de Cunha and is a smaller, sweeter lobster than you’d usually encounter. Ever since I’d seen that this was on the menu, I’d thought I had to go for this as it could be a truly memorable experience. Of course, I then bottled it and went for soft shelled crab. At least I didn’t order even more prawns like the entrepreneur.

This is where for me it gets confusing. Main courses are served in a heated bag, the first element of which is your seafood, so in my case soft shell crabs. You then add the sauce in varying degrees of heat, so I went for hot whilst the entrepreneur had mild. Then for some reason you can throw more stuff into the bag, sweetcorn, additional prawns, a grand piano…it seemed like an exhaustive and eclectic mix. There also a range of sides in case you want some chips to mop up the sauce with.

The heated bags appeared almost suspiciously quickly, as did my Cajun fries. The soft-shell crabs were OK, and the sauce and fries again a bit mild for my liking. The entrepreneur’s prawns though were tasty and as he’d ordered a pound of them, virtually endless. Whenever he thought that he’d emptied the bag of them, it transpired there were another two dozen or so waiting to be discovered in yet another unexplored crevice. In the end I had to help out, and with the 5 or so crabs I’d eaten I’d probably consumed enough to have stripped a beach of its wildlife and become a person of interest to Greenpeace.

I had a fair time at the Fat Crab but think I could make more of it on a second visit, now I know the score. The bill at only £81 for two courses and wine for 2 people was reasonable, and the service was friendly and professional.

Afterwards we limped our way down to the Crown, an engaging pub come hostel a bit further back towards Clapham Junction where I sought to rehydrate the marine life now ensconced in my stomach with reviving draughts of wine and cider. It didn’t work, but I the way my head felt the next morning, perhaps the creatures did get some sort of revenge after all.

The Fat Crab

59 Lavender Hill

London 020 7564 0112


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