Category Archives: Central Kennington

Yoga at The Tommyfield

The Tommyfield has cranked its boutique hotel credentials up a notch with an intimate in-house yoga session every Monday evening from local teacher Tim Mosley.

Tim offers a dynamic vinyasa flow class in the first floor Master Room. It’s a nice, calm space, usually used for the ABC comedy night or private events. You may even find a sprinkle of 40th birthday party confetti alongside your mat as a neat reminder of why you’re there in the first place. We have been along a couple of times and Tim is attentive and will provide a quick head massage at the end of the class if he thinks you’ve been spending too long at the blogging coalface.

Kennington is pretty well-served for yoga, including long-standing favourite Yogabelle at the RIBA Award-winning Siobhan Davies Studios, and Kennington Osteopaths for a gentler class (that is a bit of a tight squeeze – not one for the claustrophobic yogi).

yoga

Yoga @ The Tommyfield
Every Monday 6.30-7.45 pm

Limited mats available, £10 per class

Tim Mosley is also available for private lessons.

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.

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.

Back to the revamped Oxymoron at the Royal Oak for food by Marcello

When we first wrote about The Royal Oak on Fitzalan Street, it was Kennington’s mystery pub. Now its mysteries have mostly been revealed, but it remains a magical place, with decor and atmosphere quite unlike any other pub we’ve been to.

Oxymoron at Royal Oak, Fitzalan Street exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Marcello is their new Italian chef and since his arrival the pub feels less like a squat and more like the finished article. It’s still highly eccentric, with resident pets and children, and the landlord William temporarily unable to serve because he’s fixing someone’s bike or showing off fossils he has found on the banks of the Thames, but you no longer feel like the flooboards are about to collapse beneath your feet.

Oxymoron at Royal Oak interior - kenningtonrunoff.com.

There’s a lovely beer garden which catches the evening sun:

plants in the garden of Oxymoron at Royal Oak - kenningtonrunoff.com.

If these stacks of animals were at Newport Street Gallery they’d be selling for millions:

Towers of animals at Oxymoron at Royal Oak - kenningtonrunoff.com.

The Dundee Cake is not on the menu sadly, but the wildly diverse clientele did include a large contingent from Dundee, plus some twenty and thirty something hipsters, pillars of the community like the Earl of Bedlam and the queen of the Ragged Canteen, and a few stalwarts who’ve been drinking there for decades.

Oxymoron at the Royal Oak display case - kenningtonrunoff.com

So what is on the menu? They serve food on Fridays, which is burger night with veggie and vegan options, Saturdays, which is fresh pasta night, and Sundays, when we went along. The food has a homemade vibe, with lots of flavour and lots of salt (like the pub and their fliers, come to think of it). They also serve sizeable, slow cooked meat and veggie brunches on weekends from 10am-3pm.

The Oxymoron flier

Starters cost £4. We went for some moist and salty fried courgettes with polenta chips:

Fried courgettes, polenta chips at Oxymoron at Royal Oak - kenningtonrunoff.com.

Mains are £8.45. There were only two options so we had one of each. Chicken breast wrapped in parma ham served with taleggio fondue and braised fennel was creamy and indulgent. And this was a hearty risotto of radicchio & balsamic vinegar, with mature cheddar grated on top:

Risotto - radicchio & balsamic vinegar, with mature cheddar at Oxymoron at Royal Oak - kenningtonrunoff.com.

They have an uninspiring selection of beers on tap including Meantime Pale Ale, but we’ll forgive them as they make a point of serving our favourite Kernel by the bottle.

this is an old photo of the bar, which looks about 10% less chaotic now

this is an old photo of the bar, which looks about 10% less chaotic now

There is so much going on in this pub we almost forgot there was a jazz/blues guitarist playing live. Before the guitarist came on, the music choices included Decades by Joy Division (one of the darkest pieces of music you’ll ever hear, requested by one of the Dundee contingent), and Topknot by Cornershop, which William informed us featured M.I.A. before she was famous, or as he called her in the manner of an old friend, Maya.

As you can probably tell by now Oxymoron is not your average pub, and it might just be our favourite.

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Address: 78 Fitzalan St, London SE11 6QU
Phone: 07515 878976

Sidsel Meineche Hansen: SECOND SEX WAR at Gasworks

We rather like visiting Gasworks since their refurb. It’s a lovely building, open on the weekend which suits us, and we’re generally the only visitors.

The current exhibition won’t be to everyone’s taste, and is definitely not suitable for children. SECOND SEX WAR is a solo exhibition by London-based artist Sidsel Meineche Hansen, which “explores the commodity status of 3D bodies in X-rated digital image production, while also reflecting on the artist’s working conditions and relationships”.

The exhibition provides a chance to try an Occulus virtual reality headset, showing a CGI animation called DICKGIRL 3D, or you can watch it on a flat screen TV hung from a “DIY BDSM” structure:

DICKGIRL 3D at Gasworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

There’s also a CGI animation called No Right Way 2 Cum, a feminist ‘cum shot’ video, which features EVA v3.0, a stock 3D model made for computer games and adult entertainment. This was made in response to the British Board of Film Classification’s recent ban on female ejaculation in UK-produced pornography. We don’t want an X certificate on this blog, so here’s a huge clay relief instead, called Cultural Capital Cooperative Object:

Cultural Capital Cooperative Object at Gasworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

We think these laser cut drawing are called iSlave (non-dualistic) and Wannabe Dickgirl:

iSlave (non-dualistic) and Wannabe Dickgirl - kenningtonrunoff.com

During our visit there was something going on in another room at Gasworks marked “participatory” or some such, but we were too scared to enter.

SECOND SEX WAR was commissioned by Gasworks in partnership with Trondheim’s kunstmuseum, which seems appropriate. It runs until May 29th at Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH.

Opening times: Wed–Sun 12–6pm or by appointment.

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.

Kennington Christmas shopping guide

Having never understood the excitement of buying Christmas presents in July, we launch our Christmas gift guide today, with the luxury of at least four shopping days left to purchase thoughtful local items for your nearest and dearest.

Edible gifts

Sally White Christmas baskets - kenningtonrunoff.com

Sally White is bursting at the seams with packages of Christmas foodstuffs,  trussed up with ribbon and sprigs of tasteful non-sparkly tinsel. From a whole box filled with their Kennington-famous brownies (a gift to oneself if ever we did see one), to bags of excellent cinnamon stars (which we can confirm are much tastier than the Konditor & Cook version, having tasted both). They are also doing a range of seasonal hand-made chocolates in a squirrel theme, praline Santas, stollen, mince pies, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake, and the ever-wonderful three nut crackers. We ate the seasonal pralines before gifting them when they first appeared, so are perhaps consider buying two lots. They also have healthily sized hampers with much of the above contained within.

Italo Deli would make another good one-stop shop for a hamper – Kernel ales, Rococo chocolates, and lots of fine jams, chutneys, meats and cheeses, plus good chat while you peruse.

Our most frequently visited Kennington shop,  the Super Store at 161 Kennington Lane, have really gone to town with the Christmas window display this year (below). In addition to the biggest box of Guylian we have ever seen they also stock a wide variety of Lindt.

Prime Super Store Christmas window display - kenningtonrunoff.com

What better gift than the gift of food to someone who actually needs it? Donations can be made at the Vauxhall Foodbank, 105 Tyers Street, Vauxhall, SE11 5HS any time during office hours, Mon-Fri 9.30-5pm (Wickham Street Entrance). If you are bringing a larger donation (more than a couple of shopping bags), or if you need help unloading a donation, call them on 07586 258991 or email so that they can ensure they have someone who can help you. If you would prefer to donate money you can do that online here. Waterloo Foodbank is at 1 Kennington Road, London SE1 7QP and on 020 7921 4205.

Oddbins are open until 7pm Christmas Eve, stock a good selection of craft ales, and occasionally local brewer Orbit, and Havana cigars.

Oval Farmers’ Market are going all out for Christmas. They have the usual market on Saturday 19th from 10 to 3, and a panto in St. Mark’s Church alongside the market on the 19th as well. Tickets include a Christmas party after the panto with Christmas elves, story telling, games, balloon modelling and much, much more. Book your places as soon as possible at panto@weareccfm.com. Children £4 each, parents go free. Then a special Christmas market from 2pm – 7pm on the 22nd. Expect your favourite Oval Farmers’ Market stallholders plus live music from The Peas and Dai & The Ramblers, mulled wine & cider, handmade crafts for the perfect gift, and festive treats.

Local biscuit couturiers the Biscuiteers, who have their workshop on Stannary Street marked with a fetching illustration of their dog mascot, are offering free delivery if you order from them by midnight tonight (enter code CHRISTMASJUMPER). We are holding out for a hand-iced Kennington Runoff logo.

The gift of relaxation

Yogabelle, who offers yoga and massage in the uplifting surroundings of the Siobhan Davies Studios, will provide gift vouchers so that you can give someone the gift of wellbeing. Her massages and classes both come highly recommended.

Homewares, flowers, art and other stuff

The Boule-In are open until the 23rd, as are Brocket Gallery.

Shalimar will be open this Saturday as a one-off, to cater for all the people flooding there following our recent blog post.

The Damien Hirst shop Other Criteria, adjacent to the Newport Street Gallery, for Harland Miller beach towels, butterfly plates, and a box of Pharmacy branded matchbooks for £75.

Brunswick House for a pair of 19th century French cast iron urns, or a substantial Scottish pond yacht. Open until 2pm Christmas Eve.

Vanilla Black is open until this Sunday, with new and used books for sale.

Imperial War Museum has at least three different shops under its newly redeveloped Foster & Partners roof. If you’ve never been, the shops offer surprisingly high end products, including some nice jewellery outside the Lee Miller exhibition.

Jamjar Flowers, Tomorrow’s People or Windmill Flowers for bunches of flowers that will please everyone. Windmill Flowers also have Charbonnel et Walker chocolates, alpaca scarves, succulents in coconut shells, and are open until 2pm Christmas Eve.

 

Shalimar (formerly Soma Books)

Long before Vanilla Black and Finishing Touch, and decades before even Kennington Bookshop (RIP), Kennington already had a bookshop – Shalimar, formerly Soma Books:

Shalimar shop front - kenningtonrunoff.com

They’ve been at 38 Kennington Lane, SE11 4LS for around 30 years, and the proprietor appears to have been growing his beard for that long. He remembers the days when Jamyang Buddhist Centre was a courthouse, and Shalimar was part of a cluster of shops including a greengrocer – but apart from that, he says the area hasn’t changed that much.

mobile, cushions and books at Shalimar - kenningtonrunoff.com

They started out selling children’s books, which they still do, but they have diversified into African, South Asian and Caribbean books on a variety of subjects including spirituality, many of which you won’t find anywhere else in the UK.

Nowadays their core business is distributing Indian books to UK shops, which probably explains why Shalimar isn’t open on weekends (on weekdays, you have to ring a bell then wait some time to gain entrance).

pots and books at Shalimar - kenningtonrunoff.com

They also sell folk craft and art from India and beyond, and a selection of greetings cards.

toys at Shalimar - kenningtonrunoff.com

It’s a real gem packed with intriguing items, and not quite like any other shop we’ve been to. Let’s hope it stays open for another few decades.

coasters and books at Shalimar - kenningtonrunoff.com