Category Archives: cafes and restaurants

Counter Termini – the best pizza in Kennington and beyond

Sadly Counter Termini and Counter both closed down shortly after the opening of Termini.

There’s a bit of a dearth of Italian restaurants in Kennington at the moment. First of all Sirena’s shut down, apparently because the office it was based in wanted something healthier and more modern. Then Amici closed for an extended refurbishment that doesn’t seem to be progressing. Even Pizza Express was briefly closed due to flooding. Well, there’s a new restaurant in town and to say it’s the best Italian in the area really doesn’t do it justice – Counter Termini serve some of the best pizza we’ve had.

Counter Termini interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The premises used to be Back Counter, on the other side of the railway arch from Counter itself. The interior hasn’t changed much, except for the introduction of a wood-fired pizza oven.

Counter Termini pizza oven - kenningtonrunoff.com

As well as pizza, they serve antipasti, salads and drinks every day from 11.30am to late. We went along to one of their ‘sneak preview’ nights. They’re now in ‘soft launch’ mode, and they’re offering 2-4-1 on all pizzas until June 30th (except when there’s an ICC match at the Oval). If you book, quote ‘Friends & Family’.

This is the Verdura pizza with cherry tomato, aubergine, artichokes, yellow courgette, ricotta, aged balsamic – fresh, flavoursome, and so good we started eating it before taking the photo. Normally it costs £9:

Pizza Verdura with cherry tomato, aubergine, artichokes, yellow courgette, ricotta, aged balsamic at Counter Termini - kenningtonrunoff.com

Equally great was the Tonno pizza with tomato, tuna, red onions, capers, oregano (you can probably guess why part of it isn’t in the photo – yum yum). Normally £11:

Pizza Tonno with tomato, tuna, red onions, capers, oregano at Counter Termini - kenningtonrunoff.com

They’re also rightly proud of Mahrez’ Greek Salad:

Mahrez's Greek salad at Counter Termini - kenningtonrunoff.com

They do takeaway, and they’re about to launch delivery services via Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

Counter Termini is a great addition to West Kennington and indeed to London.

Address: Arch 50, South Lambeth Road, London, SW8 1SR

T – 020 3693 9600

Louie Louie

Louie Louie - kenningtonrunoff.com

Gentrification has well and truly arrived on Walworth Road’s most interesting stretch, and very welcome it is too, as long as Oli Food Centre can stay opposite (long live Oli Food Centre), and Arments Pie & Mash is just around the corner. Louie Louie is a cafe/bar/restaurant from the people behind Fowlds Cafe. It was initially funded by a Kickstarter campaign and has already proven very popular with locals, whether for brunch, lunch, dinner or drinks.

The interior is impressive but our photos of it are not. They pack a lot of people in, plus there’s a bar, a DJ and displays of vinyl records.

We’ve sampled the weekend brunch twice and we’ll be back again. Great service and atmosphere. We highly recommend the hot chocolate, and they stock beers from the nearby Orbit Brewery.

We’ve also been for dinner in the evenings, which they serve from Wednesday to Saturday with Tel Aviv-born chef-in-residence Oded Oren. The evening food is really special, in the mould of Palomar and Ottolenghi.

These 5 hours braised ox cheeks, Moroccan paprika and humus were great, and the most expensive item on the menu at £17:

5 hours braised ox cheeks, Moroccan paprika, humus at Louie Louie - kenningtonrunoff.com

Less exotic but even tastier were these bavette skewers, with smoked aubergine and green tahini:

Bavette skewers, smoked aubergine and green tahini at Louie Louie - kenningtonrunoff.com

This roasted freekeh with caramelised leeks and pine nuts was decent if rather expensive at £9.50:

Roasted freekeh, caramelised leeks, pine nuts at Louie Louie - kenningtonrunoff.com

This was a salad of shaved roots salad, feta, toasted almonds:

Shaved roots salad, feta, toasted almonds at Louie Louie - kenningtonrunoff.com

Louie Louie has already received a rave review from Kennington’s leading restarant reviewer Jay Rayner. We agree with Jay – this place is great.

The Kennington Lunch Revolution

It has been all change on the Kennington lunch scene recently.

The Hangout is a new cafe next to Papa John’s. The interior is lovely and the exterior will come into its own once the Northern Line Extension works at Kennington Green are finished. The chef and the proprietor were arguing throughout our visit, perhaps about our burnt toast and uninspired vegetarian brunch. We’ll give it another try once they’ve had a chance to get over their teething problems.

The Hangout exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

burnt cheese toastie at The Hangout

burnt cheese toastie at The Hangout

vegetarian brunch at The Hangout

vegetarian brunch at The Hangout

Vergies is now Cafe 303 but otherwise seems unchanged. A nice, light cafe, good for unusual sandwiches.

Cafe 303 - kenningtonrunoff.com

Livewire Kitchen is a relatively new arrival in Vox Studios in West Kennington with good fresh lunch options, and generous portions of salads and tortilla.

Livewire Kitchen counter - kenningtonrunoff.com Livewire Kitchen fridge - kenningtonrunoff.com Livewire Kitchen mix of salads and tortino with salad - kenningtonrunoff.com

The only down side is the feeling that you’re eating your lunch in someone else’s work canteen.

Livewire Kitchen tables - kenningtonrunoff.com

Little Lisbon is a greasy spoon with added Portugese options like octopus salad, and very friendly service.

Little Lisbon - kenningtonrunoff.com

Louie Louie is a very exciting addition to the Walworth Road – more of that soon.

All this means that Sally White hasn’t been quite as busy as it used to be since reopening, but the advantage of that is you can often get a seat, and the brownies remain flawless as ever.

Sally White shopfront - kenningtonrunoff.com Sally White cakes and savouries on marble - kenningtonrunoff.com

Firecracker Kennington

Firecracker Kennington - kenningtonrunoff.com

Firecracker, at the former site of Thai Ming on Windmill Row, has been open as a takeaway business for months now, and doing a roaring trade through every delivery service you could think of, which might explain why they’ve been relaxed about opening the restaurant to eat-in customers. But it finally has opened, albeit with temporary chairs.

The Firecracker interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Their tagline is Modern Oriental Dining and their extensive menu features Thai and Chinese favourites, including Dim Sum.

This Pad Thai was great comfort food:

Firecracker Pad Thai - kenningtonrunoff.com

Their butternut squash red curry wasn’t quite as successful, and isn’t suitable for strict vegetarian as it contains shrimp paste. Also we’d like to see them add coconut rice to the menu.

Thai red vegetable curry- kenningtonrunoff.com

For vegetarians we recommend the veggie crispy duck (actually deep fried soy skin) and pancakes. We also had some tasty chicken and spinach gyoza, and a Tsing Tao beer.

The staff were very friendly despite the constant rush to get takeaway orders out of the door, and we’ll be heading back before long – we prefer the food to Oaka.

Address: 1-5 Windmill Row, London SE11 5DW.

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 - kenningtonrunoff.com

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 - kenningtonrunoff.com

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 - kenningtonrunoff.com

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

Quinoa hot pot at Counter - kenningtonrunoff.com

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

Cable Bakery & Roastery

Cable Bakery & Roastery is a very exciting new arrival from the couple behind the Cable Bar & Cafe and Waterloo’s Scootercaffe. It’s situated at 82 Bolton Crescent, a street that runs along the side of Kennington Park and was previously most notable for an adventure playground and a bondage shop (Fetish Freak – “your fetish is our business”, but not if, like us, your fetish is for four coloured pens, although to be fair, we haven’t enquired so we can’t be sure).

Cable Bakery & Roastery exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The decor is every bit as stylish as their other two establishments, with vintage coffee machines scattered around the place.

Cable Bakery & Roastery shelving - kenningtonrunoff.com

As well as these stools, there are a couple of small tables. The establishment is already proving popular so you may not get a seat at busy times, but you can always head around the corner to Cable Bar instead.

Cable Bakery & Roastery seating area - kenningtonrunoff.com

They bake sourdough bread and roast coffee on site, all organic:

Cable Bakery & Roastery bread - kenningtonrunoff.com

As well as the expected hot drinks, they serve smoothies, sandwiches, chicken and beef broth and other lunch options with plans to add more. They also have a good selection of cakes – we had an excellent slice of apple pie.

Cable Bakery & Roastery cakes - kenningtonrunoff.com

They’re open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 7pm and Saturdays from 10am to 3pm, although hours may increase in the future. Let’s hope so – this place is great.

Address: 82 Bolton Crescent, SE5 0SE.

Bombshell: The Lobster Pot is closing after 25 years

This is a big loss to Kennington and to London. We’ve never had lobster so good, and we’ve never been to a restaurant quite like it. Back in 2014 we named it the best restaurant in Kennington. Read all our past coverage here.

Lobster Pot interior

Their farewell email says:

“The time has come to an end… It is with great regret that our Sister Restaurant, The Lobster Pot will be closing its doors for the final time on Saturday 19th November 2016.

It has been a pleasure to serve our loyal customers for the past 25 years! If you want to enjoy it one last time, reserve a table by calling (020) 7582 5556, spaces will be limited on a first come, first serve basis.

The Toulouse Lautrec will continue for many years to come… and can cater for those exceptional “Lobster Pot Experiences” in our Private Dining Room on prior arrangement only.

Please email events@btlrestaurant.com for more information.

Hervé Régent
Chef / Proprietor
The Lobster Pot”

Maybe we’ll see you there on or before November 19th (and remember they’re closed on Sundays and Mondays).

So long Hervé, and thanks for all the fish.

Herve

The White Bear

Like the Elephant & Castle, the White Bear is a Kennington pub with a very long history, which has recently relaunched in impressive style.

The White Bear Theatre Pub new exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Thomas Ellis owned the Horns Tavern pub on Kennington Common, where Guy Fawkes stored his gunpowder in the cellar. Mary Cleaver leased White Bear Field to Ellis in 1780, and he laid out Cleaver Square, the earliest London square south of the Thames, and built the White Bear (read more Kennington history on their blackboard).

The White Bear Theatre Pub fire and local history - kenningtonrunoff.com

We first knew The White Bear as a rather edgy, although rarely busy, Irish sports pub, with the White Bear Theatre feeling very incongruous in the back. It was bought by Young’s around 2012, after which there was a short-lived relaunch (bye Irish sports fans, hello not many other people), then it closed for a long time for a much more thorough overhaul.

The White Bear Theatre Pub middle dining room - kenningtonrunoff.com

The White Bear Theatre Pub back dining room - kenningtonrunoff.com

Now it’s huge – Kennington’s biggest pub  – with two dining areas where the theatre used to be, plus a garden stretching the width of two properties.

The White Bear Theatre Pub garden - kenningtonrunoff.com

The White Bear beer garden - kenningtonrunoff.com

The theatre (which we’ve not visited since the relaunch) has relocated to the first floor – the bear will show you the way.

The White Bear Theatre Pub bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

The new White Bear has the feel of a country pub, and we can’t think of another like it in central London. Perfect for Kennington Village!

The White Bear Theatre Pub bric a brac - kenningtonrunoff.com

They serve food which is good if pricey. Mains at launch ranged from toad in the hole for £11 to black Angus sirloin, mushrooms and tomatoes, chips, Bearnaise sauce for £21. Being mostly vegetarian we haven’t tried either of their specialities yet, which are beef Wellington, black cabbage and chestnuts (£21) and steak and kidney suet pudding, calcannon (£20). But we have tried rainbow chard, pine nut and blue cheese quiche (£13):

Rainbow chard, pine nut and blue cheese quiche at the White Bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

And the roasted pumpkin cobbler, purple sprouting broccoli, not entirely successful but relatively cheap at £12:

Roasted pumpkin cobbler, purple sprouting broccoli at the White Bear- kenningtonrunoff.com

The Queenie and monkfish scampi, chips, peas cost £16.50:

Queenie and monkfish scampi, chips, peas at the White Bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

And the ale battered cod, chips, mushy peas, tartare sauce are £13, which is £2 more expensive and not quite as good as the Duchy Arms’ equivalent:

Ale battered cod, chips, mushy peas, tartare sauce at the White Bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

Nonetheless, we keep going back there to eat and find the service exceptionally friendly and helpful. They have a good selection of ales on tap, and it’s always busy in the bar area – great to see after years of emptiness. Well done The White Bear and Young’s brewery.

Tiffany Bar – Korean Bistro and karaoke bar

There are so many interesting, little known establishments in Kennington and we’re still discovering new ones. Did you know the rather unpromising looking Tiffany Bar on the West end of Kennington Lane is a karaoke bar and rather good Korean restaurant? Or at least it was when we scheduled this post, but now it’s under new ownership, with a new name, Jihwaja, although still doing Korean food and karaoke, and it’s opening tomorrow.

Jihwaja shopfront newly installed - kenningtonrunoff.com

Anyway, in case you want to read about what Tiffany was like…

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The very friendly owner is a big fan of the Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast At Tiffany’s, hence the name, and an interior decoration theme that is almost as incongruous as Pop Art Sushi’s.

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro Breakfast at Tiffany's print - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you ask nicely and they’re not too busy they will seat you in a private karaoke room for dinner, even if you’re not planning to sing.

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro karaoke and dining room - kenningtonrunoff.com

Naturally we ordered a Korean pale lager called Hite, and a sweet drink (if only we could remember what that was).

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro exterior drinks inc. Hite beer - kenningtonrunoff.com

The vegetable kimchi was really good and spicy.

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro vegetable kimchi - kenningtonrunoff.com

The seafood noodle soup was so rich we struggled to finish it.

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro seafood noodle soup - kenningtonrunoff.com

We mentioned Pop Art Sushi above and there are some similarities with Tiffany Bar – both are in West Kennington, undiscovered, rather odd as concepts, but with really superior food. Give them a try. (It’s too late to try Tiffany Bar – it has closed)

Address: 353 Kennington Lane, London SE11 5QY

The Elephant & Castle pub

The Elephant & Castle pub in North Kennington has been on quite a journey these last 250 years but we’re confident its present incarnation is the best it has been.

The Elephant & Castle pub - exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Back in 2015 it had its license revoked after a series of alarming incidents. Then it was occupied by squatters and mooted to become a branch of Foxtons, which would have been the ultimate unwelcome symbol of the scorched earth gentrification of the area. Then it was declared an asset of community value and taken over by Antic Pubs who also run The Old Red Lion, and they’ve done a mighty fine job on it. It’s certainly a symbol of gentrification but a tasteful one that reflects the character of the building and the area. I mean, it has an actual sewage waste pipe exposed beneath the ceiling – how North Kennington is that?

The Elephant & Castle pub - sewage pipe - kenningtonrunoff.com

A lot of love and care has gone into the seventies-inspired interior:

The Elephant & Castle pub - table and decor - kenningtonrunoff.com

They have some good real ales on tap.

The Elephant & Castle pub - interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The kitchen is now open and the food is a different level to any other pub in the area, somewhat filling the gap left by The Duchy Arms whose menu seems to have gone more lamestream recently.

The Elephant & Castle pub - kitchen - kenningtonrunoff.com

We had a starter of potato, leek and cheddar frittata:

Potato, leek and cheddar frittata at The Elephant & Castle pub - kenningtonrunoff.com

The Sunday menu has all the expected roasts but also plenty of veggie options including this mushroom, cheddar and parsley stuffed aubergine with trimmings including an excellent Yorkshire pudding:

Mushroom, cheddar and parlsey stuffed aubergine, trimmings at the Elephant & Castle pub - kenningtonrunoff.com

And these English vegetables with goats cheese, almonds and rapeseed oil:

English vegetable and goats cheese, almonds and rapeseed oil at The Elephant & Castle Pub - kenningtonrunoff.com

The Wolseley would been proud of this breaded chicken schnitzel with fries and lemon & sage butter:

Breaded chicken schnitzel, fries, lemon & sage butter at the Elephant & Castle pub - kenningtonrunoff.com

The beer garden certainly has atmosphere, although it could be London’s least green and most polluted.

The Elephant & Castle pub - beer yard - kenningtonrunoff.com

See here for more on the history of the pub and the area:

history of the Elephant & Castle pub - kenningtonrunoff.com

And if you’re wondering where this pub is, it’s on what was the North Roundabout, now The Bend. Look out for their rather amusing A-boards:

Voted best pub next to a bend sign at The Elephant & Castle pub - kenningtonrunoff.com

Address: 119 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BN.

Telephone 02074038124