Category Archives: pubs and bars

Three Stags Pizzeria

Since our last visit to The Three Stags, they have converted their upstairs room into an open kitchen dining room with wood fired pizza oven:

Wood fired pizza oven at The Three Stags -

The pizza was delicious – the best we’ve had in Kennington. They only do one size – twelve inches – and they make their own dough which is proved for two days “resulting in the most delicious light easy to digest base”. We had buffalo mozzarella and tomato which tasted wonderfully fresh although not cheap at £14.50:

Buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato pizza at The Three Stags -

There’s table service and the staff were particularly friendly and helpful. They’ve gone to a bit of trouble with the decor as well, with London-themed wallpaper by Timorous Beasties:

decor at The Three Stags -

As befits a pub so close to the Imperial War Museum, they have war memorabilia around their stairs:

Careless Talk Costs Lives sign at The Three Stags -

They serve food Monday to Friday 12- 4 and 6 -10, Saturday 12-5 and 6 – 10, Sunday 12-4 and 6-9 and they’re open till midnight except on Sundays (11pm). It’s a good summer pub thanks to all their outside seating, big windows upstairs and the adjacent Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park.

Here’s our original piece about The Three Stags if you’d like to learn more about their environmental credentials, their beekeeping or their Charlie Chaplin links.

The Three Stags -

The Top Ten Best Restaurants in Kennington – no. 2 – The Duchy Arms

Positives: Some of the best pub food around, cooked by Prince Charles’s former chef. Great, hand cut chips. Get in quick before the hordes discover it.

Negatives: If you’re looking for a light bite, you’ve come to the wrong place. This is their fish pie for two:

Duchy Arms fish pie for two, with handcut chips and spinach -

Hygiene rating: TBC

Address: 63 Sancroft Street, London SE11 5UG

Duchy Arms -

Come back next Sunday to find out the number 1.

Oxymoron at The Royal Oak, Fitzalan Street – Kennington’s mystery pub

If you Google the Royal Oak Kennington, this pub at the West Kennington end of Kennington Lane will come up top. But there is another Royal Oak, at 78 Fitzalan Street. An earlier Kennington blog wrote about it here. Google suggests this is now a jewellery manufacture and repair business.

Then we saw this intriguing poster:

Royal Oak vintage sale poster -

So we went along to what we thought might be a vintage sale in a derelict pub, perhaps squatted. We couldn’t quite believe our eyes.

Oxymoron at Royal Oak, Fitzalan Street exterior -

In many ways it is a derelict pub – you feel the old wooden floorboards might collapse beneath your feet – but imagine a derelict pub if Tim Burton’s set designer had got hold of it:

Oxymoron at Royal Oak bar during vintage sale -

We think we spotted TV’s Mark Hill, who we suspect has a lot to do with the look of Counter. He was trying to purchase various items, only to be told by the female proprietor “Oh no, my husband will never sell that.”

Oxymoron at Royal Oak vintage sale -

We got talking to a regular, who informed us the Royal Oak is still a pub, and they had recently started serving food. We asked what kind of food and her description sounded like small plates.

We’ve also managed to track down a Facebook page for Oxymoron at the Royal Oak. From this we have learnt that they opened on Feb 27th, were planning to serve Kernel, and they were serving food on April 13th, They even have a 5 star hygiene rating, reassuringly showing that food standards officers don’t care about creaky floorboards.

If our curiosity needed piquing any further, there were these two reviews:

“Doubt you will find a place like this anywhere in London, ask if the silver fox is there to cook you supper and if you turn up on the right night you may get the chance to see Henry and the Hooray’s play. #hiddengem” – Freddie Scott

“One of the very few undiscovered gems in London. Amazing interior decor like nowhere else. The foods pretty cracking too. Head there, right now!” – Adam Knight

It sounds like the pub we have been waiting for all our lives.

Taking Adam’s advice, we went back to the Royal Oak on a Saturday afternoon. There were about seven people there, who looked like they’d been drinking there for decades. We asked the lady behind the bar if they serve food and she recommended trying The Ship.

Dear Oxymoron at the Royal Oak, please get in touch and tell us when you are serving food and Kernel so we can tell Kennington!

Update, November 2015: They are now serving food regularly on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays. More info from Facebook or Twitter.

Counter Brasserie

Counter is the biggest, most exciting restaurant opening in the Kennington area since Brunswick House. The founder Philip Reicherstorfer, a local resident, has been working on this for three years and was initially looking at the site now occupied by Nando’s, before deciding that a different set of railway arches would be better suited. The entrance to the Counter brasserie is on South Lambeth Place, next to the Sainsbury’s Local that is next to Vauxhall station, in what briefly claimed to be VX1 Gallery (we never found it open).

Counter location -

Right now the brasserie is open for soft launch with half price food (you may need to book online to take advantage of this offer, which will last until Tuesday). Their advertising says “Fully open from February 14th” but we went on Friday and it was seamless, with excellent, friendly service and delicious food.

Counter Brasserie and Bar -

They describe the food as “New York-style French” but it’s more diverse than that – we had a starter of chili blanco, warm tortillas, and avocado salsa (normally £6.50, currently £3.25) – very tasty.

The main course of sole with brown butter, capers, confit potato and spinach (normally £17, currently £8.50) was one of the most flavoursome, succulent fish dishes we’ve ever had – even better than The Lobster Pot’s skate wing equivalent. Thank-you, head chef Dan Blucert, formerly of The Big Easy in Covent Garden.

Butternut squash hotpot, tomato and ancho chili (normally £14, currently £7) was also full of flavour, although the cornbread dumplings were rather dry.

Counter butternut squash hotpot, tomato, ancho chili, cornbread dumplings -

We had a decent desert of New York cheesecake with blueberry compote, and they do their own dark and sophisticated Counter lager, brewed in the Netherlands, plus a wine list that is exclusively American and French, and plenty of cocktails and mocktails.

The clientele was nicely mixed, from Friday night revellers to middle aged gay couples to a family with a toddler. The restaurant is big (175 capacity) but was already looking pleasantly full. Ask to be seated in a booth for extra privacy and comfort. The decor is “Deco meets Disco” and will not be for everyone, but if it’s not for you then Brunswick House and Bonnington Cafe offer polar opposites just yards away.

Counter bar -

For the rest of us, Kennington finally has a quality restaurant that’s open just about any time you’d want to go – Monday to Thursday 7am to midnight, Friday 7am to 1am, Saturday 8am to 1am, and Sunday 8am to midnight. They do all day brunch on Saturdays and Sundays till 5pm – more on that soon. Counter already looks like being a great success and will contribute a lot to the revitalisation of West Kennington.

Also, Counter’s premises will soon stretch a mammoth 60 metres back, all the way to the other side of the arches near Dirty Burger on South Lambeth Road – BackCOUNTER will open on February 12th and will be open Thursdays to Sundays at least, plus private hire. It seems aimed at a gay pre-clubbing crowd but it’s still a building site at present.

Here’s an architect’s sketch of the whole premises:

Counter whole thing

Ice Skate Vauxhall – 2 for 1 tickets tonight

Vauxhall Spring Gardens has now reverted to its earlier name, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, and this Christmas it’s starting to live up to its name again as it plays host to a big ice rink, Ice Skate Vauxhall:

The Ice Rink, Ice Skate Vauxhall -

When we went on a cold Sunday night it was a bit of a ghost town, but it has had a lot of press since then so might have started to fill up. Anyway, we used to skate at Somerset House most years but it has been too full in recent years to really enjoy the skating, so there’s something to be said for a modestly popular skating rink.

If you go tonight, December 17th, you can get two for one tickets by entering 241VX1 into the ‘promo code’ box when booking tickets at

There is also the UK’s largest real Christmas tree maze, which costs £4.50 to enter, so we didn’t:

The Christmas Tree Maze, Ice Skate Vauxhall -

And there’s a bar with outdoor seating, selling much needed hot spiced cider and mulled wine:

The bar, Ice Skate Vauxhall -

There are various food options including a converted Routemaster bus selling fish and chips, and The Swing Grill selling toffee apples amongst other things:

The Swing Grill, Ice Skate Vauxhall -

It doesn’t get much more Christmas-y than that.

Duchy Arms – now the best pub food in Kennington?

Duchy Arms -

The Duchy Arms used to be an old men’s pub (their old website is still live), then after it closed it was briefly a squatted “community centre” with classes on how to feel comfortable with female body hair and such like.

Next we heard of it was an article on the website of an unpleasant but popular newspaper whose name we prefer not to write, reporting that Prince Charles’s chef Visen Anenden had quit to become the Duchy’s head chef, with investment from Prince Charles’s valet Tim McCandless, and the pub (located on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall) would be serving some of the Prince’s favourite dishes. All of the above live in Kennington except Prince Charles who owns Kennington but weirdly lives elsewhere. The newspaper also reports that Tim’s co-investor is Kowsar Hoque. Could this be the same Kowsar Hoque whose “customer is always wrong” attitude has brought such colour to his Kennington Tandoori’s TripAdvisor page?

So anyway, we finally made it along to the Duchy for Comfort Tuesdays, where they serve comfort foods such as chicken kiev, Home Farm at Highgrove (that’s Prince Charles’ farm) veal burger, and apple crumble. We had the globe artichoke, salsify and chard macaroni cheese which basically a posh version of a rather good dish Pret a Manger have started doing recently:

Duchy Arms globe artichoke, salsify and chard macaroni cheese -

And the Home Farm at Highgrove Welsh lamb shepherd’s pie:

Duchy Arms Home Farm at Highgrove Welsh lamb shepherd's pie -

Both were pretty much flawless. Could this be the best pub food in Kennington? We need to go again on a different night but yes, we think it could. Visit their Twitter to see their menus.

The wine list starts at £18 and stops at £29.50 for a dry sparkling rose. For real ale fans, they have Seafarers on tap for £3.75 a pint, as well as London Pride, and four guest ales in bottles

They’ve done a decent job on the interior as well (not that you can really tell from this photo):

Duchy Arms interior -

So if you value great food, get along there soon and often – the Duchy Arms needs support. When we were there, there were ten customers including us. When we walked past on Saturday afternoon, there was one person in there that we could see – the barman. It’s not the most prominent location (on Sancroft Street), but it’s only a quarter of a mile from The Dog House and The Tommyfield and it’s well worth the effort.

Our message to the Duchy Arms is: sort out your website and your marketing – if you put half as much effort into this as you do into your food, you’d be rammed every night. And don’t let Kowsar near your social media.

Update: the Duchy Arms do have a new website, here.

Carnival del KERB at The Paperworks

OK, The Paperworks is technically outside the borders of Kennington but it’s nearby, it’s run by North Kennington’s own Corsica Studios, and it’s great so we’re including it here.

It’s a temporary, outdoor street food, bar and music venue in a long-disused space owned by Peabody.

Carnival del KERB at Paperworks - train tracks -

With a train line running along one side and the remnants of a factory at the other, it looks like something Secret Cinema would have built to host a dystopian film screening, but it’s not – the iron protruding from the brick wall is authentic industrial debris that has been there for decades.

Carnival del KERB at Paperworks -

It’s open Friday to Sunday evenings and tomorrow sees their third of four markets by street food specialists KERB (there are also more limited street food options on Saturdays and Sundays). We went along last Friday, when it was Time Out’s no. 1 thing to do in London. There were craft beers, ten or so food stalls, live music and DJs with a Latin flavour, and a cool crowd leaning young but covering all ages.

Once the weather gets cold the plan is to convert it into more of a covered space, then eventually flats will be built here, so make the most of it while it lasts.

Tomorrow’s event runs 5pm to 11pm  at The Paperworks, 48-50 Newington Causeway (north of the Southwark Playhouse, on the other side of the road).

Corsica Studios

Corsica Studios is home to some of London’s finest underground dance nights, and what many hail as the best sound system in town. It’s an intimate club located in a warehouse-style space under a railway arch on Elephant Road in North Kennington, round the back of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre.

Corsica Studios entrance -

Here’s the bar, which serves Mexico’s finest Modelo Especials amongst other drinks:

Corsica Studios bar -

This is the stage (when we went, Snakehips were playing, the future sound of London according to Radio 1):

Snakehips at Corsica Studios -

Visiting Corsica is a flashback to how nightclubs used to be – dark, dingy, functional warehouses where anything could happen. The clientele are invariably young and cool. It’s all rather exciting. Let’s hope it survives the gentrification of Elephant & Castle and the re-development of the shopping centre (fellow North Kennington venue The Coronet is under threat).

Corsica recently launched a new open-air venue – The Paperworks – in partnership with The Peabody Housing Trust, featuring DJs, street food, craft beers, cocktails for £6 (like in the early noughties!) and giant Jenga and Connect 4. Technically it’s outside the borders of Kennington but it sounds like such fun that we’re planning to visit and report back.

Invader in Kennington

Is this a genuine Invader piece above an estate agent at Kennington Cross?

Invader graffiti, Kennington Cross -

How long has it been there?

Some kind of trailer for the Damien Hirst Gallery perhaps?

And how about this huge one above the Windmill Pub in North West Kennington, just behind Albert Embankment?

Invader on The Windmill Pub, Lambeth -