Category Archives: cafes and restaurants

Burger Craft Diner at The Steam Engine

You could live in Kennington for many years and not know where The Steam Engine pub is (we know because one of us did) – Cosser Street, behind the Days Inn Hotel, is not the kind of location that gets much passing trade. It was only thanks to a tweet from @Faye_W that we discovered the pub had been refurbished and Burger Craft were now providing the food.

The Steam Engine exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is their Cheesy One burger for the reasonable price of £8, living up to its description, and to Burger Craft’s promise to serve the juiciest burgers around. For us, this was better than Dirty Burger and therefore the best burger in Kennington.

Cheeseburger at the Steam Engine - kenningtonrunoff.com

One quibble – the chips were too salty. Why do restaurants do that? If we wanted loads of salt on our chips we could add it ourselves.

We also tried to order the Pleasured by Veg burger but they were out of caramelised garden vegetable patties, so we had to settle for a very tasty portion of mac & cheese.

This is the kitchen:

kitchen at The Steam Engine - kenningtonrunoff.com

The renovation is another one on the theme of “looking like someone’s living room”:

The Steam Engine living room - kenningtonrunoff.com

There was a good selection of real ales, both on tap and in bottles, a cheap wine list, and a warm cider option:

Side of the bar at The Steam Engine - kenningtonrunoff.com

They also have a beer garden if that’s not stretching the meaning of “garden” too far:

The Steam Engine beer garden - kenningtonrunoff.com

Burger Craft is open every day from midday to 10pm, and the pub stays open till midnight every night, or 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. They also have a hostel on site.

Address: 41-42 Cosser St, London SE1 7BU

Sugar Pot – NEW CAFE ALERT!

Kennington Park Parade is taking over from the stuttering Windmill Row to become Kennington’s latest hot spot for shopping. First QueArts opened up there, and now, in the former premises of Peter’s Shoe Design Studio, there’s Sugar Pot, a brand new, rather lovely cafe that’s already doing great business, especially when the sun comes out:

Sugar Pot exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Sugar Pot is run by a local family and many of the clientèle seem to be their friends – or perhaps they’re just good at befriending their customers. Either way, everyone is very friendly, staff and customers.

Counter at The Sugar Pot - kenningtonrunoff.com

n.b. If you weren’t aware, San Pellegrino is very salty.

Their menu is getting steadily longer. So far it doesn’t include fresh juices or smoothies but watch this space. The bread is by… who else but the wonderful Kennington Baker.

Sugar Pot menu - kenningtonrunoff.com

We had the banana bread (they’re right, it is lovely warmed with butter), and a fresh mint tea served in vintage crockery. The daffodils came with the table:

Daffodils, vintage crockery and warm toasted banana bread - kenningtonrunoff.com

So far they’re not open on Sundays but we hope that will change in the future – it’s the kind of place we’d like to visit on a Sunday.

Address: 248 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4DA

If you’re thinking of opening a shop in Kennington, it’s not too late to jump on the Kennington Park Parade bandwagon – these premises are to let a few doors down from The Sugar Pot:

premises to rent near Sugar Pot - kenningtonrunoff.com

Pharmacy 2 with Ronnie O’Sullivan

We weren’t overly excited when we heard the restaurant at Newport Street Gallery was going to be Pharmacy 2. Damien Hirst is an artist whose reputation is built on great ideas, so why recycle one from the nineties? (The original Pharmacy opened in Notting Hill in 1998, closing in 2003.)

Medicine cabinets at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

Then we heard the food would be by Mark Hix, longstanding friend of the (not young anymore) Young British Artists. We are fans of Mark’s cooking but it tends to be rather meaty, and the two times we went to Hixter Bankside it was almost as quiet as Gordon Ramsey’s place round the corner on Great Suffolk Street.

The bar at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

Also, our solicitation came to naught – we did not receive an invite to Pharmacy 2’s opening. But to make it up to us, they arranged for the most talented and compelling sportsman of his generation, Ronnie O’Sullivan, to be dining there with Damien Hirst during our first visit (Ronnie had the steak).

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Damien Hirst at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

From the moment we entered and saw Ronnie, we had a great time. The decor may not be a new idea, but it’s fun to look at, and at least it’s not a Polpo rip-off. There are no other restaurants remotely like this in the area, and it seems to be doing well, being close to capacity for both our visits.

As for the food, most of it was great. Struggling to find a vegetarian main course, one of us had two starters instead, although we’ve since seen there is a vegetarian menu on their website (perhaps you have to ask for it). Anyway, these shaved winter squash with trevisano and Graceburn cheese cost £7.50 and went down very well:

Shaved winter squash with trevisano and Graceburn cheese at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

As did these heritage beets with walnuts and chickweed, also £7.50:

heritage beets with walnuts and chickweed at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

Your other correspondent went for a flawless brunch option of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for £9.95 (they serve brunch from 10am to 6pm every day except Monday when they’re closed):

Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

On our second visit we had some tasty waffles with Yorkshire rhubarb for £7.95, but the brunch portion sizes are not large – more of a mid morning snack than a full meal.

The desserts are also small but cost just £4 so no complaints there. This pineapple upside-down cake was deliciously moist and nostalgic. So nostalgic that we went right back to the days when you just started eating instead of taking a photo first:

Pineapple upside down cake at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

The only disappointment was a side of creamed spinach, which tasted like a pie filling without the pie, and was far too salty.

Nonetheless we can wholeheartedly recommend Pharmacy 2 for brunch, lunch, dinner or drinks. It’s great fun.

They’re open Tuesday–Saturday 10am–midnight, and Sundays 10am-6pm.

Address: Newport Street, London SE11 6AJ.

Leños & Carbón Colombian tapas restaurant and bar

Leños & Carbón is a Colombian tapas restaurant and bar, serving “Latin international cuisine”. It recently relocated from north of New Kent Road to Elephant Road, right next to the Elephant & Castle train station entrance, and it could now claim to be the best Latin restaurant in London’s Latin Quarter.

It’s large and generally busy, with a great atmosphere, especially on the weekends (we last went on a Thursday night and were rather surprised to be asked to leave at 10pm – seemingly the Latin American reputation for late dining doesn’t apply on weekdays):

Lenos & Carbon from the entrance - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is the best part of the restaurant, underneath the railway arch, not least because of the dramatic noise when a train goes overhead:

Lenos & Carbon high ceilinged room - kenningtonrunoff.com

There’s also a large terrace that is partially outside. You may have noticed it on your left if you enter the train station through the shopping centre:

Lenos & Carbon outside area - kenningtonrunoff.com

On to the food, not always our favourite aspect of Latin restaurants, but some of it is actually very good at Leños & Carbón, like this starter on the left of patacón con queso – deliciously ripe deep fried green plantain served with Colombian country cheese:

Patacón con queso - deep fried green plantain served with Colombian country cheese at Lenos & Carbon - kenningtonrunoff.com

This cazuela de pescado (fish soup) was also good, if very rich:

Cazuela de pescado (fish soup) at Lenos & Carbon - kenningtonrunoff.com

This main course was typically Colombian (we know because we went along with an actual Colombian person), but not to the taste of these Londoners – Tilapia Frita – red fried tilapia fish served with rice, deep fried green plantain, and salad. When they say “fried”, they don’t mean gently pan fried, they mean deep fried to a rock-like consistency:

Tilapia Frita - red fried tilapia served with rice, deep fried green plantain, and salad at Lenos & Carbon - kenningtonrunoff.com

As for the drinks, if you ask nicely (preferably in Spanish), they might serve you your Club Colombia beer michelada-style, with lime, salt and tabasco smeared around the rim of the glass:

Club Colombia beer at Lenos & Carbon - kenningtonrunoff.com

Leños & Carbón is exactly the kind of place that makes the shopping centre so vibrant. Whatever happens in the future, let’s make sure places like this live on.

Address: 113 Elephant Road, London SE17 1LB.

Souk River Lounge

Did you know there’s a rather good North African restaurant in West Kennington?

Souk River Lounge is the most recent opening of a chain of three restaurants. It’s in St George Wharf, between the Riverside pub and the appallingly named Steax & The City, and, as its name suggests, it faces the river. There’s plenty of outdoor seating for when the weather is good, or for smoking shisha:

Souk River Lounge exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

We were reminded of our visit to Pop Art Sushi (also in St George Wharf) in that we were pretty much the only people in there for a late lunch. We believe it’s more of an after-work hangout, especially on Friday nights when they have belly dancing and apparently get very busy (they’re open every day from 10am to midnight except Sundays when they close at 11pm).

Moroccan cuisine has become rather unfashionable of late, perhaps because it was fashionable in the late nineties when Momo opened, but it can be great and Souk do it well. This soup with warm pitta was delicious for just £3.95, as was the Moroccan classic chicken tagine for £10.95.

soup at Souk River Lounge - kenningtonrunoff.com

The interior is quite something:

Souk River Lounge seating - kenningtonrunoff.com

So is the bar:

bar at Souk River Lounge - kenningtonrunoff.com

It’s worth ordering the fresh mint tea for the pot alone:

fresh mint tea at Souk River Lounge - kenningtonrunoff.com

Address: 12 Flagstaff House, 9 St George Wharf, London SW8 2LE.

Kennington Tandoori weekend breakfast & brunch

The Kennington brunch revolution continues! As of the weekend just gone, Kennington’s finest Indian restaurant Kennington Tandoori is serving breakfast and brunch from 9am to 4pm every Saturday and Sunday.

Kennington Tandoori breakfast & brunch flier

Naturally we were there on the inaugural day to see where the KT ranks in the league of Kennington brunches, and the answer could be straight in at number one. If we compare it to our previous favourite The Tommyfield, the food is as good – maybe better – and the menu is longer and more adventurous. It’s a “white linen” brunch which feels very civilised, and the room smells nicer than the Tommyfield.

KT offer three items under “fruits, grains and seeds” – granola with yoghurt, passion fruit coulis, plum compote and honey for £7.95, Madagascan vanilla porridge with mixed berries and a side of honey, also for £7.95, and these moist, flawless blueberry pancakes with caramelised bananas and maple syrup for £8.95:

Kennington Tandoori homemade blueberry pancake with caramelised bananas, blueberry, maple syrup - kenningtonrunoff.com

The Indian influence shows through more in the mains, which range in price from a paneer salad for £7.95, up to black truffle folded eggs with wild mushrooms on sour dough for £14.95. More unusual options include The KT Octopus Temptation (we weren’t tempted) and Lamb Shank Nihari (we were very tempted but managed to resist for now). They also offer Eggs Florentine and Royale, a beefburger, and this avocado and sourdough toast with poached egg, feta cheese and KT tomato salsa for £10.95:

Kennington Tandoori avocado and sourdough toast with poached egg, feta cheese and KT tomato salsa - kenningtonunoff.com

Full menu here, which says “We’ve loads of ideas for future brunches. Why not tell us yours?” via their Facebook or Twitter. As KT are renowned for their love of feedback, there is just one thing we’d change – they should serve what is surely the ultimate Indian breakfast drink – mango lassi.

Kennington Tandoori is at 313 Kennington Rd, London SE11 4QE.

QueArts – NEW SHOP ALERT!

QueArts, Kennington’s first stationers and art supplies shop, opened its doors on Thursday, at 220 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4DA, where Coversure Insurance used to be.

QueArts shopfront - kenningtonrunoff.com

As you can see from their window, they offer all kinds of art and craft materials, stationery and framing.

QueArts inks and paints - kenningtonrunoff.com

It’s a big shop with lots of beautifully stacked fresh racks of materials for stationery fetishists like us.

QueArts paper - kenningtonrunoff.com

They also sell greetings cards – how could we resist this Kennington-related one?

The Oval card - kenningtonrunoff.com

The very friendly proprietor lived in Kennington for many years, and still plays football in Kennington Park which is how he came to spot the To Let sign.

QueArts boxes - kenningtonrunoff.com

The same row of shops also plays host to Park View, AKA Dino’s Hairdressers, which has one of London’s finest shop signs, renovated relatively recently:

Dino's hairdresser Park view - kenningtonrunoff.com

There are two other shops to let in the same parade, including this former shoe repair shop. May we have an organic grocer and a branch of Rough Trade Records please?

vacant shoe shop - kenningtonrunoff.com (2)

Finally, while we’re writing about this parade, has anyone ever seen Naga Shack open? Or, better still, sampled its cuisine, whether Lebanese or Indian?

Naga Shack - kenningtonrunoff.com (2)

Bar 48 wine bar and Eritrean restaurant

A wine bar seems quite a weird concept in 2015, let alone a wine bar that’s also an art gallery and music venue, serving Eritrean “tapas”, next door to what is probably London’s best Eritrean restaurant, Adulis.

Bar 48 exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

We thought Bar 48 must be a new opening from Adulis but it turns out it’s neither linked to Adulis nor new – it has been going for years and has been in its present incarnation for around two years – we just hadn’t noticed it till recently. It’s also rather dark so excuse the photography.

Bar 48 interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Someone on TripAdvisor says “You know how people say that Londoners are unfriendly bastards who never make conversation? Well not here! I don’t know how they do it, but its the kind of place where strangers were striking up conversations with one another all night.” Indeed this was our experience – both the barman and the table next door struck up conversation with us.

And there’s a lot to talk about. They have the kind of events programme that is bound to see Jeremy Corbyn visit sooner or later (unless he heads to i’klectik instead). Plus a grand piano:

Bar 48 grand piano - kenningtonrunoff.com

The owner Fiyori Belay has Eritrean roots and runs the kitchen, while the (bar)man behind the art gallery concept is Joshua Vaughan, who also teaches at City & Guilds. When we visited the art had rather a Dystopian, William Gibson-ish feel.

sculpture at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

should have chained the wheels to the bike

art at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you’re only interested in the food, you should probably go to Adulis instead, which offers pretty much the same dishes (meat and vegetable platters served on injera), at least as well prepared, and many others besides. Bar 48’s wine list is also quite short for a wine bar, but reasonably priced. They do serve an Ethiopian lager, St George Beer (he’s the patron saint of Ethiopia as well as England), which seems more exotic than the Kenyan one they have next door, as well as Brixton beers (should have gone for Kernel, or failing that, Kennington’s own Orbit).

St George Beer at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

But really, you should go for the welcoming atmosphere, and because you will never have been anywhere quite like it. Tonight could be the night – they’re open and have a duo playing covers and originals, then, as far as we can ascertain from their reservations tool, they’re not open again till February 1st.

Address: 48 Brixton Road, London SW9 6BT

great things we have eaten or drunk in Kennington recently

Bao pao with sea bream from Marcel & Sons:

Bao Pao at Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

Poitiers bread with sunflower seeds from the Kennington Bakery:

Poitiers_1094_729_w

Apple and cinnamon stuffed French toast with candied walnuts at Counter (although the service still leaves something to be desired).

Counter entrance - kenningtonrunoff.com

The 70% Ecuador and 82% Madagascar hot chocolate from Vanilla Black Coffee & Books are both great.

Oh, and we aren’t big meat eaters but we were going to order a Christmas turkey from PJ Frankland & Sons butchers (6 Jonathan Street), and were midway through writing a blog specifically about this 31 year old shop when we stumbled across this piece.

PJ Frankland shop front - kenningtonrunoff.com

Pop Art Sushi and sushi in Kennington

Kennington has three sushi restaurants we can think of. SW9 Sushi at 62 Brixton Road is a reasonable neighbourhood Japanese. The Sushi Chef at 1 Kennington Lane (in between Toulouse Lautrec and The Lobster Pot and owned by the same people) mainly does catering for events but you can get individual portions as takeaway and it’s always likely to be fresh. But the strangest and most enjoyable of the three is Pop Art Sushi at the bottom of St George Wharf, facing the Vauxhall Gyratory.

Pop Art Sushi exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Why strange? There rarely seems to be anyone in there – we were the only diners throughout our visit. But the sushi and the service are really good, as are the 194 reviews on TripAdvisor which make it the 114th ranked restaurant out of 18,000 in London. What’s more, it doubles up as a pop art gallery, the Amstel Art Gallery (named after its founder so not to be confused with the beer). They say they were the first art gallery in Vauxhall back in 2011. They sell prints by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein alongside some original pieces by people we’d never heard of.

Roy Lichtenstein print

Roy Lichtenstein print

Imagine if Planet Hollywood did sushi, and pop art. You’ll never have seen a restaurant interior quite like it:

Pop Art Sushi interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Back to the food. It’s fresh, flavoursome, and affordable. The avocado nigiri (£7.19) were flawless:

avocado nigiri

The sweet potato croquettes were a little on the dry side but only cost £4.19:

sweet potato croquettes

Japan is not renowned for its deserts but these mochis – spice mango rice ice cream balls – were fun:

Mochi - spicy mango rice ice cream balls

Or if you want something more familiar, they do pancakes:

pancakes

We really would recommend paying a visit soon, and we want this unique restaurant to stay open so tell your friends how good it is.

Address: Pop Art Sushi, 8 Wandsworth Road, Unit 7 St. George Wharf, London SW8 2JW.