Polygon Bar and Grill, Clapham SW4

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We were very attracted to Polygon when it first opned about eighteen months ago, so we asked Susie Rowbottom to catch up with recent developments

Tucked away in fashionable Clapham Old Town, from the outside Polygon Bar and Grill is stylishly austere (much concrete and plate glass), but inside the welcome is friendly, the look coolly chic. Like the pared down decor, the food is simple but packs an exotic flavour. Much of it is cooked on a new high-tech rotisserie grill in the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant.

We had an aperitif at the concrete bar adjacent to the bright and airy restaurant - it's an excellent place to meet your dinner date. Lots of orange leatherette and stainless-steel punctuated by vivid Conran blue add to the hard-edged modern feel, but the staff are human, professional and helpful.

Starters are enticing (ranging in price from £4.25 to £6.25), and I went for the chargrilled baby octopus salad with sundried tomato pesto and red onion (£5.75). Tasty and tender, the baby octopus was delish, though I did find the dressing on the salad rather salty. My companion, a dedicated foodie, has been to Polygon several times since its opening in November 1996 and is a firm fan - as the menu changes regularly she always finds something new and interesting to tempt her. She tried the Thai fish cake with sweet red chilli dressing (£5.50), attractively arranged on a palm leaf, which was moist, tasty but not overly spicy, and complemented by the (not too sweet) dressing which had the added surprise of some chopped-up pickled vegetables.

We noticed that most of the tables are rather close together, which could be a problem if you want a quiet intimate chat or someone at the next table lights up a cigarette. The upbeat music is loudish, and it became very buzzy as the restaurant began to fill with those in the know.

On to the main courses - I fell for the special of the day, grilled swordfish with avocado, coriander and tomato salsa. The interesting flavours of the salsa, especially the tang of coriander, enlivened the fish, which was marginally undercooked for my taste, and the wonderful mustard mash (£2.00) side dish helped too. I rather envied my friend's choice, Jamaican jerked chicken with fried plantain and mango salsa, which was a totally delicious combination of flavours, the melting texture of the chicken suggesting it had been well marinaded.

We had to have a side dish of heavenly fries (£1.75) and tried the Wok fried greens (£2.75), which are spiced up with soy and other things - definitely an interesting way with members of the cabbage family. Main courses range in price from £8.50 for honey and soy pork spare ribs to £14.50 for Filet steak with blueberry and red onion chutney. We were slightly disappointed to find the divine tobacco onions they used to do have disappeared from the menu.

From the desert menu we tried the Chocolate marquise with coconut and lime syrup (£4.75), which was wickedly good, - you could taste the coconut and lime, and the very prettily arranged honey roasted pear with almond anglaise (£5.50). Nothing slapdash there.

The wine list is as inventive as the cooking, with plenty of bottles from the New World, with lots of interesting ones available by the glass, which is such a good idea.

I certainly felt I had found an oasis close to Clapham Common - and obviously others have too: even on Wednesday night the place was quite busy. Definitely for the modish diner.

Typical cost of a meal for two is about 50 pounds including a bottle of house wine (Terret Sauvignon, Bellefontaine, France 1997 at £9.50)
Wines by the glass range in price from the house wine at £2.50 to £6.50 for a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon or Coastal Chardonnay by Robert Mondavi.

Susie Rowbottom 5 May 1998

Polygon Bar and Grill, 4 The Polygon, SW4 (020 7622 1199)

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