Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published April 10th 2014
The Hut by the Bandstand
Cafe La Baita
In Italian, La Baita means 'the hut', which is a good way to describe the bandstand cafe on Clapham Common.With its red and black brick paintwork, the bungalow looks likes it has just been cherry picked out of a countryside village and deposited in the centre of a London park.
Although dogs are not allowed inside, there is plenty of outdoor seating, so on a sunny day both you and your pooch can soak up the sun, enjoy green view, and lunch on authentic Italian cuisine. For although it only looks like a sandwich bar, they actually serve full fledged meals as well.
The interior of the cafe is designed for practicality rather than beauty. There is no attempt to hide the ceiling infrastructure, the bright red doors are rather industrial looking, and the tiled floor is made for easy cleaning - something that is particularly important when based on a common, where customers are probably coming in with muddy shoes.
You have the choice to either eat in or take away, which you might base your decision on by how many kids are there. The cafe is very family oriented, as you would expect, since there is a playground not two minutes away. They are likely to enjoy a ham & cheese sandwich (£3.50), Margherita pizza (£7.50), or a child's size portion of pasta (£4.50) with a choice of sauces.
For a main meal (£7.50-£13.50), adult can choose from a wide variety of pastas, including penne carbonara, lasagne, linguine alla norma, and spicy calamari. You can also have muscles in white wine sauce, char-grilled sardines, chicken thighs, a hamburger, and number of different salads. If you are not averse to drinking in the afternoon, then you can also order a glass of wine.
Those of you after a hearty meal before work can also stop in for a hearty breakfast, which is served until 11.30am (£1.50-£6.95) These include toast, smoked salmon, omelettes, and a full English.
I was after a slightly lighter bite, so opted for one of their toasted panini, made with ciabatta bread. I asked for marinated grilled vegetables (£4.25), which looked delicious on the plate, but was sadly lacking in flavour. I think this is due to the combination of courgette, aubergine, and red pepper, all of which have a very subtle taste. They are good when mixed with something stronger, but these three together are rather lack lustre, even when marinated in olive oil.
Although too full for dessert, I did google at the sweet counter for a while. They had a selection of cakes (lemon, chocolate), muffins (chocolate, blueberry), pastries (croissants, hazelnut canneloni), and fruit (pineapple, olives), but because it was such a warm day, ice cream was the most popular demand.
Even if you are not planning on eating, it is worth going into La Baita, because you can also buy a few culinary treats, such as amaretti biscuits, pasta sauce, orange blossom and wildflower honey, and their award winning extra virgin olive oil.