Author Archives: Kennington Runoff

New year, new Counter

Sadly Counter closed down in June 2017. Let’s hope they reopen.

Counter have stepped up their food game, with the recruitment of a pedigree new chef – Mahrez Loukal, ex of Quaglino’s  and Chez Bruce, has come in as Head Chef and frou-froued up the menu with a touch of Gallic class. The brasserie staples (burger, steak, veal chop) are still there, now rubbing shoulders with wild sea trout & Granny Smith apple tartare  (pictured), tartiflette and pigeon.

Wild sea trout and Granny Smith apple tartar, chives, creme fraiche at Counter -

Our other choice of starter was the decidedly un-French duck tacos, which Chef Mahrez has yet to banish from West Kennington:

Pulled Gressingham duck tacos, cucumber, sweet and sour sauce at Counter -

The honey glazed wild salmon fillet, grilled artichokes & dandelion leaves (pictured) was the highlight. No clues on the menu as to whether the dandelions were provenance Pleasure Gardens, but we are hoping that’s the translation of its ‘Seasonal’ claim.

Honey glazed wild salmon fillet, grilled artichokes, dandelion leaves at Counter -

For those of you who are in the throes of Veganuary, there’s the Quinoa Hot Pot:

Quinoa hot pot at Counter -

If you haven’t been back to Counter since the excitement of its opening months, now would be a great time to return for brunch, lunch or dinner.

London SW8 1SP

020 3693 9600

opening hours:
Monday to Thursday    7am-12:30am
Friday    7am-1:30am
Saturday    9am-1:30am
Sunday    9am-12:30am

the best restaurant in Kennington

Firstly, honourable mentions to other places that received votes: Mumbai Delight and Pizza Pazza are just outside the borders of Kennington, and we must visit Pico and revisit Koza – watch this space.

But the winner is…

1. The Lobster Pot
pros: one of London’s best seafood restaurants. It’s great fun from top to bottom and there’s nowhere else like it; you even get a special bib if you order the lobster
cons: it’s not cheap
hygiene rating: 5

Lobster Pot exterior -

The top ten best restaurants in Kennington – numbers 4 to 2

4. Aobaba
pros: top quality Vietnamese food and loads of choice – who needs Kingsland Road?
cons: it’s a brightly lit cafeteria on the side of an Oriental supermarket so don’t come here for the ambiance
hygiene rating: 4

3. The Ragged Canteen at Beaconsfield
pros: super tasty vegetarian food and organic Monmouth coffee
cons: it’s not open that often (they serve hot food Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays from noon, last orders 2.25pm; at other times it’s drinks and cakes)
hygiene rating: 4

2. Brunswick House
pros: totally unique setting amidst LASSCO’s antiques, plus top quality seasonal food
cons: the staff can be rude, and if you want to buy the chair you’re sitting on, be prepared to remortgage your house first
hygiene rating: 3

the winner will be revealed on Wednesday

Brunswick House

Brunswick House

The top ten best restaurants in Kennington – numbers 7 to 5

7. Dirty Burger
pros: top quality, posh, juicy burgers
cons: the Vauxhall gyratory goes right past the outdoor tables, and the veggie burger features mushrooms, which everyone knows are banned throughout Kennington on grounds of taste, texture, appearance, smell, and name
hygiene rating: 5 (Reassuringly Clean Burger)

6. Doost
pros: delicious Persian specialities, a charcoal grill, and loads of vodkas
cons: it’s a little pricey
hygiene rating: 5

5. Adulis
pros: Eritrean food is such good fun
cons: the service can be a little sketchy
hygiene rating: 4

Doost Persian Grill & Vodka Bar

Doost Persian Grill & Vodka Bar

The Electric Elephant Cafe and Gallery

If you’re heading to the Pullens Yard Open Studios this weekend, you will most likely drop in on East Kennington’s kookiest cafe and gallery, the Electric Elephant, which is on the Walworth Road end of Pullens Yard. The homemade ice cream is particularly eccentric.

The Electric Elephant cafe and gallery -

This is the place to pick up local history books and pamphlets. Nine Things That Aren’t There must be about local archaic and largely forgotten place names such as Walworth, Elephant & Castle, Lambeth, Vauxhall and Oval:

Local literature, the Electric Elephant Cafe -

Pullens Yards

In the early 20th century, East Kennington’s magnificent Pullens Estate, AKA the Pullens Buildings, comprised almost 700 properties and stretched all the way to Manor Place. In the seventies the surviving buildings were threatened with demolition. Residents and squatters fought back (Kennington owes a lot to the preservation efforts of squatters) and thank goodness they did – these are some of London’s last surviving Victorian tenement buildings, and their workshops host a thriving community of creative people, as well as providing film sets for the likes of The King’s Speech (in the scene where the king goes to visit the speech therapist for the first time).

Twice a year they host an open day and their Christmas event is coming up next weekend. It’s the ideal opportunity to look around these unique spaces and pick up unusual Christmas presents. How about some Alex Monroe jewellery for a fraction of the Liberty’s price, or some pottery moulded from vegetables, or a handmade loot, or some architect-designed furniture, or a print of all the regions of the shipping forecast? It’s all here, in the most amazing and rather Christmas-y setting.

Pullens Yard open studios flier

More info here.

Pullens Yard, with workshops along both sides:

Iliffe Yard, Pullens Estate -

An installation of umbrellas from a previous open day, an idea that later made it to Carnaby Street:

Pullens Yard open day -

Naomi Campbell used to live in Iliffe St, below, and, wait for it, the young Charlie Chaplin lived in one of the Pullens Buildings for a while:

Pullens Estate houses, Iliffe Street -

The loot making workshop, who supply all Kanye West’s loot needs:

Loot making tools -

Loots -

Loot making ingredients -

Wood for loot making -

Karen Gillan and Dr Who: the Kennington connections

Karen Gillan, who played “Dr Who’s sexiest sidekick ever”, lives in Kennington and was spotted working behind the bar at the Pilgrim pub on Kennington Lane.

Karen Gillan-1344580

In the 2005 Christmas episode, the Tardis crash landed on the Brandon Estate in East Kennington.

Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor, was born in North West Kennington.

Bob Baker, the creator of Doctor Who’s iconic K9 robotic dog, appeared at the Cinema Museum recently.


The White Bear Theatre Pub

The White Bear, on Kennington Park Road, is a pub of two halves. The front half is an Irish sports pub with lots of regulars and rather an edgy atmosphere. The back half is an extraordinarily intimate, award-winning fringe theatre with a capacity of just 50. It was established in 1988 and actors who’ve appeared there include Emily Watson, Tamzin Outhwaite, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Mark Little, Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Natalie Imbruglia.

Plays we’ve seen here:

* One about Byron, the Shelleys, and their frantic sex lives.

* A play featuring objectionable middle class couples arguing and cheating on each other over barbecues  – or we saw half of it anyway (the problem with leaving a theatre this small during the interval is your absence will definitely be noticed in the second half – sorry about that guys).

* A good production of Noel Coward’s Still Life, the play on which Brief Encounter was based, which is about an abortive affair.

* Recently we saw Coward, a rather unflattering depiction of Noel Coward and his sex life.

So is the White Bear the theatre equivalent of the Locker Room? No – they had a play by Ayn Rand recently so we’re guessing that was a sex free zone. Check out their programme here and get along.

Here’s a photo of Coward (that’s him, sitting down):

Coward at the White Bear Theatre Pub -

The Ship is 250 years old

The Ship pub on Kennington Road is celebrating its 250th birthday tomorrow with a pirate-themed evening. 250! Ten generations of Charlie Chaplin’s family have drunk in this pub.

The Ship underwent refurbishment recently and it’s really rather nice inside now, not to mention outside thanks the hanging baskets and picnic tables you can see below. They have an extensive selection of real ales, board games, live music twice a week, decent local-sourced food, and best of all, they have a bar billiards table, which is great fun if you can figure out the rules.

The Ship -

Dino’s hairdresser

Dino’s hairdressers is on Kennington Park Road, opposite the park. We’ve never quite plucked up the courage to get a haircut there, but a friend of ours goes, and he has excellent hair. Plus, they used to straighten out Bob Marley’s dreads for him after he’d been playing football in Kennington Park.

Anyway, here’s a photo of Dino’s from one of our favourite photo blogs, London Shop Fronts:

(It’s not hair week on Kennington Runoff, or at least we didn’t plan it that way.)