Category Archives: North West Kennington

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.

Gabriel Fine Art

Gabriel Fine Art gallery has been open for around two years in Old Paradise Yard, but appeared to be closed every time we tried to visit. As we were leaving Old Paradise Yard the last time, having given up, someone heading in the other direction asked if we were looking for Gabriel Fine Art. It turned out he worked there and the gallery was open – they just keep their door closed.

So we finally got to visit a unique and charming gallery which shows artists from all over the world. The gallery comprises four rooms on the ground floor of this cottage, plus a garden:

Gabriel Fine Art exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

We liked the series of knitted pieces by Sweden’s Marta Balogh. This one is called Old Tree and costs £650 + VAT:

Marta Balogh's Old Tree at Gabriel Fine Art - kenningtonrunoff.com

This artist is like the Haitian Lowry. We’re not sure of his or her name unfortunately, and Gabriel exhibit more than one Haitian artist, but we really like this:

Haitian paining at Gabriel Fine Art - kenningtonrunoff.com

They were keen to show us these colourful works which had just arrived from Tanzania:

Tanzania painting at Gabriel Fine Art - kenningtonrunoff.com Tanzanian paintings at Gabriel Fine Art - kenningtonrunoff.com

They also show some British artists, one of whom was in there meeting the gallery director Beata Maria Rzepecka for the first time.

Gabriel is a child-friendly gallery named after Beata’s young son, and they sometimes offer workshops for children and adults (although nothing showing on their rather out of date website at the moment). Go and visit – it’s worth the effort – and be sure to ring the bell to gain entry.

Address: Cottage 2, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, London SE1 7LG.

Newport Street Gallery

Those of you who follow us closely on Twitter will know that our invite to the opening of Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery (NSG) got lost in the post despite months of blatant solicitation. Nonetheless, we picked ourselves up and dragged ourselves along on the first day it was open to the public.

Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

NSG is a great building – lighter and more inviting than the Saatchi Gallery to which it has been compared (both having been built by rich people to show their huge collections of contemporary art).

Newport Street Gallery staircase - kenningtonrunoff.om

Well done to Damien who has certainly not skimped on this, and architects Caruso St John who were also behind the revamp of Tate Britain. The Guardian recently published an interesting article about the building and NSG’s issues with community outreach.

people at John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.om

The first exhibition is Power Stations by the late John Hoyland, whose huge, colourful but foreboding canvasses suit the space so well that it’s hard to imagine how smaller works will fare.

John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery under skylights - kenningtonrunoff.om

If you don’t like Hoyland’s stuff then you have a long wait for something else – this exhibition runs until April of next year.

John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery with sloping roof - kenningtonrunoff.om

Damien’s involvement in NSG is relatively inconspicuous until you enter the shop where there are eye-wateringly expensive skulls and jewellery galore. Newport Street Gallery’s shop is not the much-needed replacement for Kennington Bookshop as a place to buy a present a tenner – more like ten grand.

Newport Street Gallery skulls in the shop - kenningtonrunoff.om

The first day crowd was large and varied, and Beaconsfield, further down Newport Street, was the busiest we’ve ever seen it. We have no doubt NSG’s arrival will spark a new level of boom for the once-neglected area we call North West Kennington, others call Lambeth, and, in a blatant land grab of which we would have been proud, Vauxhall’s developers have decided is called Vauxhall. We’ll see about that:

Correction to Vauxhall sign outside Beaconsfield - kenningtonrunoff.com

The first floor of NSG is taken up by a restaurant named Pharmacy 2, a sequel to Damien’s Notting Hill restaurant that was open from 1998 to 2003. Whatever next – Fat Les reforming to play the opening party? Just as long as we’re invited that’s fine by us – and we mean now, not next year when Pharmacy 2 finally opens to the public. Altogether now: “Where on earth are you from?/We’re from Kennington”.

The Top Ten Best Lunch Spots in Kennington – no. 2 – The Ragged Canteen at Beaconsfield

The Ragged Kitchen - kenningtonrunoff.com

Positives: There are worse environments in which to have your lunch than a contemporary art gallery located in the great building that is the former Lambeth Ragged School. The Ragged Canteen offer tasty vegetarian soups, sandwiches and meals on weekday lunchtimes, all day brunch on Saturday, and cakes and drinks whenever the gallery is open (11am to 5pm Wednesday to Saturday).

Ragged Canteen French Toast - kenningtonrunoff.com

French Toast at Ragged Canteen Saturday brunch

Also, they’ve recently started to hold occasional fundraising dinners in the evenings.

Beaconsfield Gallery with new, less foreboding glass door

Beaconsfield Gallery with new, more welcoming entrance

Negatives: They’re not open on Sundays, Mondays or Tuesdays because Beaconsfield is closed on those days. It gets busy on weekday lunchtimes, especially since Newport Street Gallery has opened up the road, and sometimes they run out of main courses so get there early. They are big fans of polenta – if you don’t like polenta, your options will be limited, but see how good they make it look.

Ragged Canteen spring vegetable polenta cake with cheese and two salads

Ragged Canteen spring vegetable polenta cake with cheese and two salads

Hygiene rating: 4 out of 5

Address: 22 Newport Street, London SE11 6AY

Website

Come back next Sunday to see what’s at no. 1.

The Top Ten Best Lunch Spots in Kennington – no. 3 – the Garden Museum Café

[Update Nov 2015: The Garden Museum and cafe are closed for the rest of 2015 and the whole of 2016 for redevelopment]

The garden of The Garden Museum - kenningtonrunoff.com

Positives: It’s a special setting whether you eat inside the deconsecrated church which is now The Garden Museum, or outside in their knot garden (above), near the grave of William Bligh. The seasonal veggie food is generally delicious, as are the cakes.

The grave of William Bligh, The Garden Museum garden (formerly St Mary's) - kenningtonrunoff.com

William Bligh, who hoped to be remembered for the bread fruit tree, not for being the target of a mutiny

Negatives: We had a disappointing aubergine dish recently. They operate a reduced menu on the weekends. Their opening hours are subject to change due to events  – check before you travel.

Garden Museum Cafe aubergine dish - kenningtonrunoff.com

aubergine dish which looked better than it tasted – should have gone for the quiche

Hygiene rating: 3 out of 5

The Garden Cafe cakes

The Garden Cafe cakes

Address: The Garden Museum, St Mary’s, 5 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB

The Garden Cafe quiche

The Garden Cafe quiche

Website

Come back next Sunday to see what’s at no. 2.

Ragged Canteen Pop Up Evening Dinners

The Arts Council snatched away Beaconsfield’s funding earlier this year, which, though a sorry day for artists looking to further their creative practice in a former ragged school, has also had a couple of happy by-products. Firstly, Beaconsfield have opened up their windows to the world quite literally, hacking away big holes in their forbidding-looking wall at the front, and replacing them with glass, presumably to entice in new patrons. Secondly, their excellent in-house vegetarian café the Ragged Canteen has started a series of evening events to raise money.

The Ragged Canteen sign and canapes - kenningtonrunoff.com

We attended the first of the Ragged Canteen’s dinners, and it was a charming evening all round. Excellent value at only £15 for three courses, plus canapés and a drink on arrival – and a musical interlude (pictured below). They have increased the price to £17 a head now, but this still seems very reasonable to us.

The Ragged Canteen musical entertainment - kenningtonrunoff.com

Food runs very much according to the Ragged Canteen’s formula of homely vegetarian cooking with a kick to it. The spiced flatbreads (pictured) were the winner of the evening.

The Ragged Canteen flatbread in a bag - kenningtonrunoff.com

The first event sold out, so get in quick before the next, coming up this Thursday, goes the same way – tickets here.

The Top Ten Best Lunch Spots in Kennington – no. 6 – i’klectik

Update: i’klectik remains open as an arts and events space with a bar serving drinks and snacks, but they no longer serve meals from the kitchen

Positives: We love visiting Old Paradise Yard – it’s so peaceful and calm, partly because it’s a little hard to find and not many people know about it yet (it’s on the North side of Archbishop’s Park, yards from St Thomas’s Hospital, at 20 Carlisle Lane). i’klectik is the heart of Old Paradise Yard, with a lovely outside seating area. It’s spacious inside and out.

i'klectik exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is their weekend menu typically, sometimes with two choices of quiche, and their salads are delicious with some of the food grown on site:

i'klectik menu - kenningtonrunoff.com

They have a, yes, eclectic range of events and exhibitions from hard rock record fairs to exhibitions on sexual violence to the launch party of the next Dark Mountain book, for those interested in literature about the possibly imminent breakdown of industrial civilisation. And how many London venues have not one but two pianos?

i'klectik menu and bar - kenningtonrunoff.com

On the weekends you can visit the new Oasis urban farm, also at Old Paradise Yard, and on weekdays you can pop in to Gabriel Fine Art Gallery next door (not that we’ve ever found it open).

Negatives: Their name still makes us cringe. The menu is not extensive, and it is vegetarian which we approve of but might put some people off. If you’re not interested in sexual violence or the breakdown of industrial civilisation, well, you can always just have a slice of quiche and sit outside.

i'klectik veggie rainbow tart

Hygiene rating: not rated yet

Address: Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, London SE1 7LG

Website here but their Facebook page is more up to date

Come back next Sunday to see what’s at no. 5.

The Top Ten Best Lunch Spots in Kennington – no. 8 – Sirena’s

Positives: Imagine eating creamy ravioli while watching Back To The Future – that’s what it’s like visiting Sirena’s. There’s a dessert trolley and a great atmosphere. It will cheer you up and fill you up.

Sirena's tortellini with spinach, ricotta and courgette - kenningtonrunoff.com

Negatives: You have to be in the right mood to eat your lunch in 1989. In the basement of an office building. With a dessert trolley. And they’re only open on weekdays.

Sweets from the trolley, Sirena's - kenningtonrunoff.com

Hygiene rating: 5 out of 5

Address: Southbank House, Black Prince Road, SE1 7SJ

Website (also from 1989)

Come back next Sunday to see what’s at no. 7.

Sirena's interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Supper Club Frenzy

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

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 & Shoots

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.

Brunswick House restaurant - kenningtonrunoff.com

Brunswick House restaurant

The Top Ten Best Lunch Spots in Kennington – no. 10 – Imperial War Museum café

Positives: The food, by Peyton & Byrne, is unusually good for a museum cafeteria. You can sit outside in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth park when the weather is fine.

outside tables at the Imperial War Museum, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park - kenningtonrunoff.com

Negatives: Hordes of tourists, especially during school holidays. Often a lengthy queue at lunchtime.

Imperial War Museum cafeteria - kenningtonrunoff.com

Hygiene rating: doesn’t seem to have one yet

Address: Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ

Website

Come back next Sunday to see what’s at no. 9.