It’s a supper club bonanza in Kennington this week, with two separate pop-up dinner events taking place mere streets away from each other in North West Kennington.
On Thursday August 27th, The Ragged Canteen are hosting their inaugural dinner event, at an extremely reasonable price of three courses for £15 (tickets here). Expect robust, imaginative vegetarian fare, and some ‘small surprises’. We’re not in on the secret of what the unexpected element of the evening might be – as long as it’s not an appearance from local resident Peter Stringfellow, who we saw being turned away rather incongruously from the Tea House Theatre on Sunday (it was a rainy afternoon and there wasn’t space for his Bugaboo alongside all the others). If you book, you’ll be sure of a table at The Ragged Canteen.
Beaconsfield, home of The Ragged Canteen
On August 28th and 29th, Roots and Shoots are bringing back their Magpie Kitchen, with a menu that’s an interesting cocktail of Middle Eastern, Indian and Mediterranean influences. The Roots and Shoots garden should be looking particularly verdant after Kennington’s recent deluges, too.
Roots and Shoots
Brunswick House have also been hosting their own supper clubs in recent months, but they are rather more elite affairs. For restaurant staff, they run the Sinning on Sundays dinners, with entrance strictly restricted to trade only, and at the other end of the spectrum was this summer’s Brunswick House Ball (dress code: Black Tie with a Napoleonic Twist), for those who like their supper clubs with a hefty side order of Georgian grandeur.
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.
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 Press stall at North Lambeth Parish Fete
A good rule of thumb for pop-up dining experiences – the longer a pop-up runs, the more likely it is to be a professional outfit. We will never forget a visit to a very short-lived pop-up in Bethnal Green that involved drinking Aldi own-brand lemonade from water cooler cups while waiting for our undercooked stew to arrive. Po’ Boys, a journey through New Orleans cuisine set in a hidden steelyard in West Kennington, is running until September, and it shows. The venue – The Yard on Durham Street – has hosted a handful of food events since it opened last year, and while it’s no Creole townhouse, it felt a long way from the fringes of the West Kennington gyratory on a balmy Friday night.
Draped with Mardi Gras beads on entrance through a small speak-easy style door, guests are offered a potent New Orleans Hurricane cocktail in the cobbled hackers yard. Dining is at communal tables – Sathnam Sanghera was sat on ours; perhaps you’ll find Will Self trying another local dining option after his saddening time at Dirty Burger?
When the food came, it was tasty without exception – Jalapeño Poppers pegged up on a steel washing line (above), sticky sweet Dr Pepper-doused ribs, tiny mason jars filled with pickled crawfish, an authentic-tasting gumbo (below), and a very heady Mississippi Mud Pie (further below). All to a soundtrack that stretched from the Kygo remix of Sexual Healing through to Bayou anthem Proud Mary.
Tickets for a few of the dates are already sold out, but there are still plenty left with good availability.
Dates: Friday nights, Saturday nights & Sunday lunches on selected dates to 27th September. Cost: £35 for five courses plus cocktail.
We finally visited Lambeth Palace Gardens for the North Lambeth Parish Mega-Fete.
This is a garden so big (over ten acres) that you can barely see from one end to the other!
We were promised morris dancing, and we got it:
The North Lambeth Parish Fete was Kennington’s best publicised event since The Great Chartist Meeting of 1848. But if you somehow missed it then don’t despair – there’s another chance to visit the garden today, and the first Wednesday of every month – it’s the Lambeth Palace Garden Open Day from midday to 3pm. It’s £4 or free for children. The entrance is on Lambeth Palace Road. More info here.
This is the oldest continuously cultivated garden in London, having been a private garden since the 12th century. The big question is why isn’t this huge, lovely central London garden open to the public every day? Sort it out Archbishop Welby.
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:
The JamJar flower fairies send out their blooms in a variety of receptacles, including enamel buckets, kilner jars and their signature jam jars:
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.
If you ever want to butter us up, an antique apothecary bottle filled by JamJar is a good place to start.
His full range of breads is here, and will expand over time. As you can tell from his descriptions, John really knows his bread, and if you can describe it, the chances are he’ll be able to bake it for you flawlessly.
Our favourites so far are the Saratoga, a “San Francisco-style” sourdough:
The Agincourt, “An open crumb white loaf similar to a French Pain au Levain. But better.”:
The Blenheim is great too for fans of caraway, and for those avoiding wheat, some of his breads are 100% rye.
John is primarily a baker of bread but he also did some mean hot cross buns earlier in the year:
Oh, and we like their flier, clearly inspired by Peter Saville’s work for Factory Records:
This morning (Saturday) you can meet John and sample his wears on a stall outside Sally White. This was his stall at the Kennington Village Fete:
The Harleyford Road Community Garden Open Afternoon is on Sunday 14th June from 2pm-5pm with teas, music and plants for sale. For more on the magical place that is the Harleyford Road Community Garden, see our piece here.
Harleyford Road Community Garden
The Friends of Vauxhall Park’s Summer Fair is on Sunday June 21st from 2pm-5pm, with donkey rides, motorised go karts, a rodeo bull, teas and delicious homemade cakes, hot food, ice creams from a vintage ice cream van, not just one bouncy castle but also a giant inflatable slide, Punch and Judy, Crazy Golf, musical entertainments including Valentinos Jazz Band, football training by Chelsea Football Club, giant tea cups, a dog show, and dried lavender and lavender oil for sale, harvested from the park. More info here.
Today from noon till 4pm is the mother of all fêtes, the Kennington Village Fête. This takes place in Cleaver Square, or St Anselm’s Church if it’s raining, which it won’t be – the sun always shines on the Kennington Village Fête – the Friends of Durning Library see to that.
We will be there, doing a supermarket sweep past the local honey stand, staring in fascination at the human fruit machine, and keeping a low profile around Kennington Tandoori.
Then on Saturday June 27th, the North Lambeth Parish Fête takes place from 12.30pm to 5pm at Lambeth Palace – another opportunity to visit their grounds. We are fully expecting The Archbishop of Canterbury to set up his own human fruit machine.
North Kennington’s beautiful West Square has a fête, AKA a summer afternoon, on July 4th:
If there are any other fêtes we’ve missed (perhaps something in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens?), please leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sadly, the campaign to save the subways under the north roundabout in North Kennington is all over bar the singing. The 104 year old subways will be filled with concrete from April 9th.
Tomorrow, Good Friday, is your chance to say goodbye. Meet in the centre of the roundabout at 7pm. From sunset, there will be a free choral performance of a specially written composition by Danyal Dhondy, with one section being performed in each of the seven subways.