Category Archives: East Kennington

Red Sea Restaurant & Bar and Kennington’s six Eritrean or Ethiopian restaurants

Eritrea used to be part of Ethiopia and we haven’t yet been able to discern any differences in the two countries’ cuisines, although they are completely unlike any other cuisine we’ve tried. So when friends raved about an Ethiopian restaurant on Camberwell Road, we got confused, Googled an Eritrean restaurant on Camberwell Road and found Red Sea.

Red Sea exterior - kenningtonrunofff.com

We felt something might be amiss when we turned up to find they didn’t have any other customers when we arrived on a Friday evening, they don’t take cards, but they do have a TV in the restaurant. The sign above said “under new management” so perhaps that was why, we thought. Four customers did come in later, plus quite a few people seemed to be heading to the club downstairs (we’re always curious about those clubs downstairs on Walworth Road and Camberwell Road but haven’t plucked up the courage to visit one for many years, and anyway suspect they don’t get going until after our bedtime).

Red Sea interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

We had no complaints once the food arrived – the vegetarian platter on injera was as good as in the three other Ethiopean or Eritrean restaurants we’ve tried in the area (Adulis, Bar 48 and Harar), and tasted very fresh despite the lack of customers. Very reasonably priced too.

Red Sea vegetarian platter - kenningtonrunoff.com

The restaurant our friends actually recommended? Zeret Kitchen of course – we’ll visit there soon. There’s also an Ethiopean restaurant at Artworks which we need to try – Beza. How wonderful that the Greater Kennington area supports six Ethiopean or Eritrean restaurants.

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.

Walworth Garden Farm

You probably know about Vauxhall City Farm, on Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. You may know about the newish Oasis Farm Waterloo, something of a work in progress on Carlisle Lane (Sadiq Khan visited there the other day). But did you know there’s rather a lovely Garden Farm just yards from Kennington tube?

Walworth Garden Farm entrance - kenningtonrunoff.com

Walworth Garden Farm is a charity and social enterprise which has been going for nearly 30 years (presumably they used to be based in Walworth).

Walworth Garden Farm exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

They have very frequent events and courses, about gardening, beekeeping, herbal medicine and such like, or you can just pop in if the gate on Manor Place is open (that’s what we did).

It’s a real oasis, and very lush:

Walworth Garden Farm tree - kenningtonrunoff.com

Walworth Garden Farm bench and bed - kenningtonrunoff.com

This bench is rather lovely:

Walworth Garden Farm butterfly bench - kenningtonrunoff.com

They also have some sizeable greenhouses:

Walworth Garden Farm greenhouse - kenningtonrunoff.com

Address: 206 Braganza St, London SE17 3BN.

Oli Food Centre and Turkish Corek bread

We are huge fans of the Kennington Baker and occasionally buy a loaf from The Old Post Office Bakery who have a stall on Saturdays at Oval Farmers Market. But neither of those fine establishments will sell you much for less than £2. What about if you’ve only got 50p to spend?

Well, you need to get yourself along to Oli Food Centre, a Turkish shop at 332-334 Walworth Road, London SE17 2NA.

Oli Food Centre - kenningtonrunoff.com

Head to the back of the store and next to the entrance to the kitchens you will find the corek bread for, yes, just 50p a loaf. That’s it on the middle shelf:

Oli Food Centre - Corek bread shelving - kenningtonrunoff.com

It’s a white loaf covered in sesame seeds and something fearsomely addictive – possibly black caraway seeds, or crack cocaine. It really is extraordinarily tasty and extraordinarily good value for money.

Corek bread - kenningtonrunoff.com

Oli Food Centre sells all kinds of weird and wonderful products you won’t see elsewhere, including about 57 varieties of halloumi. We once bought a six pack of glasses emblazoned with the logo of BJK, then panicked in case this turned out to be an objectionable political party. Panic over – it’s a football team.

Oli Food Centre is open 24 hours – where else can you buy amazing bread at 4am, for 50p?

The Beehive

Once upon a time, we lived in East Kennington, and The Beehive was our local. We recently went back for the first time in years and it was every bit as special as we remembered it.

The Beehive exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Why so long in between visits? It’s the kind of place you have to seek out, being tucked away down a side street, but plenty of people do seek it out, and let’s be honest, there isn’t too much competition in terms of decent pubs in in East or North Kennington.

The atmosphere is calm but not sedate – it’s the perfect pub for a Saturday afternoon pint.

The Beehive bar - kenningtonrunoff.com.JPG

They have a wide selection of single malt whiskies, but they could do better on the real ale front, especially as the Orbit Brewery is just yards away. They also serve a huge selection of burgers and some other pub classics, although we can’t comment on the quality of the food right now as we last tried it around the turn of the millennium. Food served Wed/Thu/Fri 17:30-22:00, Sat 13:00-21:00 and Sun 12:00-20:00.

The interior is tastefully decorated, including this image of the now-demolished Heygate Estate, or is it Aylesbury? How quickly we forget!

The Beehive local art - kenningtonrunoff.com.JPG

There’s a beer garden in a classic East Kennington setting:

The Beehive beer garden - kenningtonrunoff.com.JPG

Like a lot of East Kennington, The Beehive has a rich history – read more about it on their website. Last year the Walworth Society were involved in a successful bid to have it declared an asset of community value, and rightly so.

Address: 60 Carter St, London SE17 3EW (not to be confused with the Beehive at the junction of Durham Street and Harleyford Road).

G Baldwin & Co. (AKA Baldwin’s)

G Baldwin & Co. – better known as Baldwin’s – is London’s oldest herbalist store and one of the city’s most interesting and welcoming shops.

G Baldwin & Co shopfront - kenningtonrunoff.com

The Baldwin’s website says “We have come a long way since George Baldwin first opened his doors on 77 Walworth Road, South East London in 1844”, but that’s not true in the geographical sense – they’ve just moved a few yards down the road to 171-173 Walworth Road, as well as building a successful mail order business and website. The current owners are the Dagnell family, who took over in the early 1900s!

The old Baldwin's

The old Baldwin’s

To step into the right side of the store – the apothecary and herbalist – is to step back in time.

G Baldwin & Co Tonic & Nerve Mixture sign - kenningtonrunoff.com G Baldwin & Co apothecary glass shelves - kenningtonrunoff.comG Baldwin & Co apothecary jars - kenningtonrunoff.com

It’s always busy, with all kinds of people coming into to discuss their ailments.

G Baldwin & Co apothecary counter - kenningtonrunoff.com

The left side of the store is a standard health food shop, albeit well stocked and with very well informed staff:

G Baldwin & Co health foods shelving - kenningtonrunoff.com

They also offer all kinds of demonstrations and work shops, from occasional free hand massages to soap making, and they always have a recipe up on their blackboard. But even if you’re not into any of that, it’s still fun to visit Baldwin’s.

Kennington: Land of Letterpress

Kennington, epicentre of the London letterpress scene, has played host to many a typographic luminary.

Berthold Wolpe, one of the greatest names in type design, lived at Kennington Park Road until his death in 1989 and his Albertus typeface is used in street nameplates throughout our very own borough of Lambeth. Eagle-eyed Kennington Runoff fans may also have spotted it employed in our social media creative identity.

Dr Berthold Wolpe print

In the kind of tidy confluence of Kenningtonians that so delights Kennington Runoff, another SE11-based typographer, designer and letterpress practitioner Alan Kitching has created a print in honour of Berthold Wolpe (pictured above), and also one depicting the streets of Kennington (pictured below). Kitching’s studio on Cleaver Street is handily identified in this print, and they host a letterpress workshop there if you fancy joining the long line of Kennington letterpress creatives.

Alan Kitching and Celia Stothard Kennington print

Can’t make the dates for the typography workshop on Cleaver Street? Never fear, there’s a competitor round the corner at Iliffe Yard in the form of Mr Smith.

The Kennington Lane Press is the final stop on our tour of Kennington: land of the letterpress. They sell their hand-printed greetings cards at the North Lambeth Parish Fete as well as online, and will create bespoke thank you cards for all those local businesses looking for the personal touch when reaching out to thank us for our tireless promotion. Bribes always welcome alongside thank you notes.

Kennington Lane Letter Press stall at North Lambeth Parish Fete

Kennington Lane Press stall at North Lambeth Parish Fete

JamJar Flowers

Where do Stella McCartney, Nick Knight and the Chiltern Firehouse look to for supplies of London’s chicest flowers? Kennington, of course. JamJar Flowers is based in a picturesque Victorian shop on the Pullens Estate that could be straight out of a World of Interiors shoot:

Jamjar Flowers exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The JamJar flower fairies send out their blooms in a variety of receptacles, including enamel buckets, kilner jars and their signature jam jars:

Jamjar Flowers window - kenningtonrunoff.comJamjar Flowers arranging - kenningtonrunoff.com

The JamJar HQ is accessible to visitors twice a year when Pullens Yards host their open studios, although they do say knock on the door at other times and if they’re there, they will take your order. During the open studios (the next one of which will be in December), you can pick up floral offerings at far cheaper prices than their standard fare – succulents in French yoghurt jars for a fiver, pot plants, and handfuls of sweet peas in pretty little vintage glass vases for a tenth of the price of their normal deliveries.

Jamjar Flowers succulents - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you ever want to butter us up, an antique apothecary bottle filled by JamJar is a good place to start.

Plants in front of Jamjar Flowers - kenningtonrunoff.com

The top ten restaurants in Kennington – those that didn’t quite make it

Mamuśka slipped out of our top ten this year as we have had occasional stodgy dishes there, but those dishes may well have been authentically Polish, and if you’ve never been, you really should go for the experience and the atmosphere.

Mamuska - kenningtonrunoff.com

Emanuel also has a great atmosphere and feels authentically Peruvian – maybe a a bit too authentic at times.

We’re reasonably regular visitors to Amici, at the junction of Windmill Row and Kennington Lane, which is a decent, friendly Italian. They have outdoor seating in the courtyard which is great when the weather’s good. To us Amici represents the old Kennington where the likes of the Duchy Arms, Brunswick House and Doost (from the same owners as Amici) represent the new, but long may it last.

We have a soft spot for Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec and we’re grateful there is live music (mostly jazz) in Kennington every night, but we’re bigger fans of their brunch than their bistro evening menu.

The food at Kennington Tandoori is a cut above your average curry house, and probably marginally better than Gandhi’s (who are also very good and do a great value vegetable thali). KT have nice bright premises with a front that opens onto the street – pleasant in the summer months. But we’ve talked before about their “customer is always wrong” attitude. We had another run in with them this year where we complained, they rather aggressively told us we were wrong, so we provided proof to back up our complaint, which was met with silence. We don’t want to give any more details for fear of being banned. And it’s not just us – see their Tripadvisor page for some real pearls.

Kennington Tandoori - kenningtonrunoff.com

Anyway, we’d love to see all these restaurants burst into the top ten next year, and would welcome suggestions of any we’ve missed.

our North and East Kennington predictions for 2015

North Kennington (formerly known as Elephant & Castle) will be a messy snarl up from some time very soon for at least a year because of two massive Transport For London projects: the reconfiguration of the North roundabout, and the installation of the new cycle superhighway on St George’s Road. The number of cranes is expected to increase too, and associated construction beneath them, as Lend Lease commence work on the portion at the top of Walworth Road, including a 31 storey tower.

Ministry of Sound will get what they want in terms of planning approval, because they love to fight hard and win.

What will become of the shopping centre? Whatever it is, let’s hope it manages to keep the downtown Bogotá/magical realism vibe that makes it so vibrant at present. Likewise the Coronet and the bowling alley – North Kennington needs these!

The good news is the new Castle Leisure Centre will open in the heart of North Kennington with its two lovely pools (one of them 25m long), sports hall, gym, crèche, café, and a wooden ceiling for those doing back stroke to admire.

The Castle Leisure Centre

The Castle Leisure Centre

There will continue to be havens of green space in the area, including a new Mobile Gardeners event and gardening space opening on New Kent Road called Grow Elephant.

The modernist Perronet House (between St George’s Road and London Road on the North roundabout) will join Metro Central Heights in being listed. See this article about one of the top floor flats.

Like The Duchy Arms, North Kennington’s Marcel & Sons will cease to be a best-kept secret and become a destination eatery.

As for East Kennington, Walworth Road could become a foodie haven if some of the establishments would just sort out their Food Standards ratings.