After quite some time sitting empty, the builders are definitely busy at the former Valentina (opposite Pizza Express on Lavender Hill). It’s set to become the second branch of Heidi, a wine / brunch / cocktail bar whose generally well reviewed first branch is in Balham. Fairly unusually for the area, Heidi plans to be child free at all times with an over-18s only policy – which will of course chop out some of the market, but which they reckon will make it more of a haven for adults wanting to escape children for a while!
It’s good to see this prominent corner property coming back in use, as it’s been looking a bit sad and run down in recent months (although the increasingly overgrown patio did become quite the wildlife haven for a while). We’ve not yet seen if they plan to use the unusually large basement area – it wasn’t too useful to Valentina but somewhere that’s more of a bar in the evenings might be able to make the most of it by expanding downwards.
Back when it opened Valentina raised the bar on quality and were a breath of fresh air for the area. They really cleaned up the building and made good use of the outside space that had been completely ignored by the not-much-missed previous tenant Big Fat Panda. Sadly the chain expanded far too quickly (we understand that of over a dozen branches, this was one of a small handful that ever turned a consistent profit) – and as the debts became too much to bear both food and service standards suffered. Hopefully Heidi will be able to make a good new start.