Both of these institutions are magical, unique and irreplaceable. The area will be much worse off without them.
Both of these institutions are magical, unique and irreplaceable. The area will be much worse off without them.
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.
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?
A lot of love and care has gone into the seventies-inspired interior:
They have some good real ales on tap.
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.
We had a starter of potato, leek and cheddar frittata:
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:
And these English vegetables with goats cheese, almonds and rapeseed oil:
The Wolseley would been proud of this breaded chicken schnitzel with fries and lemon & sage butter:
The beer garden certainly has atmosphere, although it could be London’s least green and most polluted.
See here for more on the history of the pub and the area:
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:
Address: 119 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BN.
Move over Giorgio Locatelli – we went to Mercarto Metropolitano in the former Paperworks and Hotel Elephant sites on Newington Causeway and had the best pasta we’ve had outside Italy- this tortelloni stuffed with pumpkin in butter and sage sauce (not sure why we needed a ciabatta with it but still):
Mercarto Metropolitano is huge, 45,000 square feet, with two halls full of food stalls, mostly variants on pizza, pasta and sweet stuff, but recently completed stalls include French and British food. The gelato stall is also excellent, with an array of sophisticated flavours, including a black sesame of which we have heard tell from our North Kennington stringer but which always seems to be in production whenever we visit.
Move over Borough Market – there’s also an Italian food market featuring rows and rows of produce that would not otherwise be available in London.
Many of the prices in the market are as eyewatering as the products are mouthwatering. £5 for a 330ml bottle of Italian craft beer for example, or these organic pastas:
There are also bars and street food in the outdoor gravelly area where Paperworks used to be:
There’s a coffee van and juice bar in front of the market (finally somewhere to get a proper vegetable juice). Above the market there is, apparently, a barbershop, boxing gym and shared working space. There’s also an “urban garden” (i.e. flowers planted in crates):
Mercarto Metropolitano originated in Turin. The Evening Standard report that the owner Andrea Rasca has invested £1.2 million in this London venture which is believable based on its scale, but the initial lease is only for a year so get down there and support – we want this to stay!
They’re open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 11pm.
Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6DR.
The Athenian is a popular recent arrival at The Artworks, serving delicious Greek street food – i.e. souvlaki, which are pita bread wraps – and more than making up for the loss of My Big Fat Greek Restaurant (which used to be where Mamuśka! is now).
The founders are Efthymios and Neofytos, two Londoners born and raised in Athens and Cyprus. They’re really friendly and the food is great.
The veggie option comes with talagani cheese, which they describe as being like halloumi but with a more refined texture and minty undertone. It did indeed melt in the mouth in a way that halloumi doesn’t.
The most exciting meat option is wild boar sausage,
They also sell Greek confectionery and Loux drinks, which they say are like Fanta but better:
Unlike a lot of Artworks food outlets, they’re open every day 11.30am to 10.30pm, and they’re expanding at a rate of knots with five other sites including Vauxhall Street Food Garden.
Address: Unit 16, The Artworks, Elephant Rd, London SE17 1AY
Phone: 07445 876716
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):
This is the best part of the restaurant, underneath the railway arch, not least because of the dramatic noise when a train goes overhead:
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:
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:
This cazuela de pescado (fish soup) was also good, if very rich:
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:
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:
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.
Bao pao with sea bream from Marcel & Sons:
Poitiers bread with sunflower seeds from the Kennington Bakery:
Apple and cinnamon stuffed French toast with candied walnuts at Counter (although the service still leaves something to be desired).
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.
It has by far the nicest interior of any Artworks restaurant, making it somewhere you can go for a night out with friends or a date as opposed to just a snack or a working lunch:
Founders Romain and Nadia “pride themselves on their fresh ingredients and home-made products. All their food is prepped on site and served ‘a la minute’ with no waste.” The menu is short, although it has already expanded since our visit. At the time of writing, the plats are duck confit burger (£8), raclette monsieur toastie (£6), and deep fried duck legs (£5), while the grill options are 30 day aged côte de boeuf with bearnaise sauce (£20), and we had the duck breast (£10) which wasn’t the tenderest we’ve ever tasted, but it was close:
This is the toastie (vegetarians may not be regular visitors to The Frenchie Bistro, nor indeed to France). If it looks a little burnt then it was, but it tasted great all the same:
This was the salad, for only £3:
The duck fat chips (£3) were awesome:
They also have a selection of cheeses and seem to have acquired an alcohol license since our visit, offering La Chouffe beer from Belgium for £5 or bottles of wine for £16.
Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 10pm [update: as of Nov 2015 their new opening hours are Tue-Thu 6pm-10pm / Fri 6pm-11pm / Sat 10am-11pm.] at Unit 8, The Artworks, Elephant Road, London SE17 1AY. They don’t take bookings and there aren’t many tables, but if they’re full there are plenty of other Artworks options.
The Artworks box park has switched its focus to food outlets – a great move in an area that was previously lacking in lunch options, despite having plenty of office workers. Elephant Shack is no more, but our favourites Marcel & Sons have moved next door into Elephant Shack’s old premises, and are joined by a number of newish arrivals.
This week is due to be another mild one so a good time to visit while it’s still warm enough to eat outside at lunchtime.
We had the £5 half pizza lunch deal at Elephantastic Pizza which was as good as it looks:
Unit 4 Kitchen is from the people behind the Balham Kitchen and they specialise in serving classic British dishes in chapattis. Unlike some of their neighbours, they’re open on Saturdays and Sundays until after lunch:
We’re trying to be vegetarian, else we would have had a biodynamic, organic burger in a toasted brioche bun from Black Acorn, who stay open for dinner on Friday nights:
As well as the food options, there’s The Six Yard Box – a sports bar for people who wouldn’t be seen dead in sports bars. They sell local craft beers including our beloved Kernel. As you can see, it gets very busy when there’s a game on:
Long Wave Bar & Cafe is the place to hang out and work on your laptop, plus they’re licensed to sell alcohol, unlike many of the food outlets:
One of the juicers at Spark juice bar has won an award for his juicing but he needs to spend more time and training the others – we’ve been twice when they haven’t been able to make a juice to order because they don’t know how:
We went to visit Elephant Shack again shortly after writing the below, and found it closed. Rumour has it they have pivoted and are now making bread for supermarkets or some such. It’a a shame as they were very good and very popular, but there are lots of good other lunch options at The Artworks which we’ll write about soon.
Positives: They only serve filtered water from a big container, no bottles. They go out of their way to be welcoming and helpful – service is on a par with their jovial Artworks neighbours Marcel & Sons. We’ve only been once, but the spicy lamb flatbread wrap was deliciously piquant. Negatives: A bar that closes at 6pm? Perhaps more of a concern for a Saturday lunch, but it seems a shame all the same (and they’re closed on Sunday). It’s rather tight on space inside – more of a takeaway lunch option. Hygiene rating: 3 out of 5 Address: Unit 18, The Artworks, Elephant Rd, London SE17 1AY Come back next Sunday to see what’s at no. 3.
Today was our first visit to GROW ELEPHANT, a new community garden just off New Kent Road (enter by the red telephone box opposite Falmouth Road).
They’re open until 10pm tonight as part of Open House London and there will be a BBQ and DJs.
Mobile Gardeners are behind the garden, as they are behind the Wansey St and Elliott’s Row Pocket Parks, but this venture is much bigger in scale and in an even more dramatic location, surrounded by the new and half built tower blocks of North Kennington.
It’s free to join and one of these tubs could be yours to tend: