Open since June 2010, The Bowler is on the borders of picturesque Wandsworth Common. It was previously a branch of family favourite Dexter's before its parent company entered administration last year and its reincarnation as an upmarket pub-stroke-restaurant is down to Alexander Kersjes, the chap behind Altitude 360, The River Room, and The Millbank Cinema and Media Centre.
Despite being open only for three months, the press release proudly talks of their "legendary Bowler burger" (Homer wept) which was not available to order from the restaurant when we recently made an evening visit so we plumped for the a la carte options. The smoked salmon platter (£8.50) was pleasant enough with mild flavours but could have done with more of the yummy croutons. The pressed terrine of ham hock and foie gras (£8.50) was a curious mixture of full-flavoured ham and chalky, lardy foie gras.
For the main course, we scanned the room and went for the most popular: the ribeye steak (£17.50) and the lemon sole (£16.50). The steak is presented as a thick disc of meat sat aloft parsnip purée accompanied by glazed shallots and ceps; it arrived pinker than we asked for but tasted so good that we didn't mind. The lemon sole consists of two small fillets on some very tasty basil mash. There isn't much in the way of vegetables or carbs so be prepared to order these separately.
Bikini season is over again for another year so we checked out the desserts on offer and were glad we did because they more than made up for any shortcomings of the previous courses. Vanilla panna cotta (£6.50) is served in a shallow lake of sweet pink strawberry consomme. The fresh strawbs and the large wafer of shortbread which come with it perfectly complemented the gentle, smooth panna cotta in terms of flavours and texture. The Bowler's signature chocolate fondant (£6.50) is just as good. It comes in a small bowl hidden under a layer of icing sugar and alongside some ice-cream (vanilla according to the menu but pistachio on the night). Lips were licked, spoons were dipped and it was all over before we knew it. After-dinner cocktails at £6 each are sweet alternatives.
If you're after generous portions and recession-friendly prices, chances are that The Bowler is not for you but an ambitious menu and to-die-for desserts means we'll be keeping an eye on this place.
This Thursday is the first of the monthly Cuban Nights where you can indulge in Mojitos, a specially themed menu and some traditional cuban cigar rolling.
Tables at The Bowler restaurant can be booked on 0208 767 9677 and full details can be found at its upcoming website.