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.
Sadly Counter Termini and Counter both closed down shortly after the opening of Termini.
There’s a bit of a dearth of Italian restaurants in Kennington at the moment. First of all Sirena’s shut down, apparently because the office it was based in wanted something healthier and more modern. Then Amici closed for an extended refurbishment that doesn’t seem to be progressing. Even Pizza Express was briefly closed due to flooding. Well, there’s a new restaurant in town and to say it’s the best Italian in the area really doesn’t do it justice – Counter Termini serve some of the best pizza we’ve had. The premises used to be Back Counter, on the other side of the railway arch from Counter itself. The interior hasn’t changed much, except for the introduction of a wood-fired pizza oven. As well as pizza, they serve antipasti, salads and drinks every day from 11.30am to late. We went along to one of their ‘sneak preview’ nights. They’re now in ‘soft launch’ mode, and they’re offering 2-4-1 on all pizzas until June 30th (except when there’s an ICC match at the Oval). If you book, quote ‘Friends & Family’. This is the Verdura pizza with cherry tomato, aubergine, artichokes, yellow courgette, ricotta, aged balsamic – fresh, flavoursome, and so good we started eating it before taking the photo. Normally it costs £9: Equally great was the Tonno pizza with tomato, tuna, red onions, capers, oregano (you can probably guess why part of it isn’t in the photo – yum yum). Normally £11: They’re also rightly proud of Mahrez’ Greek Salad: They do takeaway, and they’re about to launch delivery services via Uber Eats and Deliveroo. Counter Termini is a great addition to West Kennington and indeed to London. Address: Arch 50, South Lambeth Road, London, SW8 1SR T – 020 3693 9600
It has been all change on the Kennington lunch scene recently.
The Hangout is a new cafe next to Papa John’s. The interior is lovely and the exterior will come into its own once the Northern Line Extension works at Kennington Green are finished. The chef and the proprietor were arguing throughout our visit, perhaps about our burnt toast and uninspired vegetarian brunch. We’ll give it another try once they’ve had a chance to get over their teething problems.
Vergies is now Cafe 303 but otherwise seems unchanged. A nice, light cafe, good for unusual sandwiches.
The only down side is the feeling that you’re eating your lunch in someone else’s work canteen.
Little Lisbon is a greasy spoon with added Portugese options like octopus salad, and very friendly service.
Louie Louie is a very exciting addition to the Walworth Road – more of that soon.
All this means that Sally White hasn’t been quite as busy as it used to be since reopening, but the advantage of that is you can often get a seat, and the brownies remain flawless as ever.
Sadly Counter closed down in June 2017. Let’s hope they reopen.
Counter have stepped up their food game, with the recruitment of a pedigree new chef – Mahrez Loukal, ex of Quaglino’s and Chez Bruce, has come in as Head Chef and frou-froued up the menu with a touch of Gallic class. The brasserie staples (burger, steak, veal chop) are still there, now rubbing shoulders with wild sea trout & Granny Smith apple tartare (pictured), tartiflette and pigeon. Our other choice of starter was the decidedly un-French duck tacos, which Chef Mahrez has yet to banish from West Kennington: The honey glazed wild salmon fillet, grilled artichokes & dandelion leaves (pictured) was the highlight. No clues on the menu as to whether the dandelions were provenance Pleasure Gardens, but we are hoping that’s the translation of its ‘Seasonal’ claim. For those of you who are in the throes of Veganuary, there’s the Quinoa Hot Pot: If you haven’t been back to Counter since the excitement of its opening months, now would be a great time to return for brunch, lunch or dinner. Address: 50 South Lambeth Place, London SW8 1SP opening hours:
Monday to Thursday 7am-12:30am
Head to https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KOVNPLAN to give your thoughts on how at least £15 million of developer money should be spent in Kennington.
If you’re looking for some extra proposals, we have some for your consideration:
There are so many interesting, little known establishments in Kennington and we’re still discovering new ones. Did you know the rather unpromising looking Tiffany Bar on the West end of Kennington Lane is a karaoke bar and rather good Korean restaurant? Or at least it was when we scheduled this post, but now it’s under new ownership, with a new name, Jihwaja, although still doing Korean food and karaoke, and it’s opening tomorrow.
Anyway, in case you want to read about what Tiffany was like…
The very friendly owner is a big fan of the Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast At Tiffany’s, hence the name, and an interior decoration theme that is almost as incongruous as Pop Art Sushi’s.
If you ask nicely and they’re not too busy they will seat you in a private karaoke room for dinner, even if you’re not planning to sing.
Naturally we ordered a Korean pale lager called Hite, and a sweet drink (if only we could remember what that was).
The vegetable kimchi was really good and spicy.
The seafood noodle soup was so rich we struggled to finish it.
We mentioned Pop Art Sushi above and there are some similarities with Tiffany Bar – both are in West Kennington, undiscovered, rather odd as concepts, but with really superior food.
Give them a try. (It’s too late to try Tiffany Bar – it has closed)
Address: 353 Kennington Lane, London SE11 5QY
We think we may have identified the most child-friendly corner of Greater Kennington, with the opening of the new extension to Vauxhall City Farm, and its star attraction, The Old Dairy Cafe.
A slick building with clean, minimal lines, it is at odds with the crafty, homespun aesthetic of the original farm buildings, which started life as a squat, and a neat visual metaphor for the area it sits in. It’s been busy on both occasions that we have visited, but there is plenty of seating both inside and out, with picnic tables around the duck pond for finer days.
They offer superior sandwiches and cakes – including gluten and dairy free options – and simple, homespun food, with a soup, salad, quiche, open sandwich and hot dish of the day in smaller and larger portion sizes, mostly vegetarian. We ordered the white bean “risotto” with asparagus, spinach and onion broth, and understood why quotation marks had been inserted once it arrived without a grain in sight. The leek and feta tart with olives and capers, and sun-dried tomato Spanish omelette were more satisfying and accurately described.
The cake stand:
For their core customer, they also provide a wide variety of Ella’s Kitchen products, a hot kids’ meal of the day (again in smaller and larger portion sizes), as well as a selection of mini sandwiches for smaller hands, and a pile of the iconic Ikea Antelop highchairs stacked in one corner, all in immaculate condition. There is a children’s play area in one corner of the cafe, and when we visited during their ‘Spring Spectacular’ there was a charming and well-attended story and rhyme time with an animal theme, complete with props. Watch out Tea House Theatre, pay attention NCT groups, there’s a new destination in Kennington’s own Nappy Valley.
Did you know there’s a rather good North African restaurant in West Kennington?
Souk River Lounge is the most recent opening of a chain of three restaurants. It’s in St George Wharf, between the Riverside pub and the appallingly named Steax & The City, and, as its name suggests, it faces the river. There’s plenty of outdoor seating for when the weather is good, or for smoking shisha:
We were reminded of our visit to Pop Art Sushi (also in St George Wharf) in that we were pretty much the only people in there for a late lunch. We believe it’s more of an after-work hangout, especially on Friday nights when they have belly dancing and apparently get very busy (they’re open every day from 10am to midnight except Sundays when they close at 11pm).
Moroccan cuisine has become rather unfashionable of late, perhaps because it was fashionable in the late nineties when Momo opened, but it can be great and Souk do it well. This soup with warm pitta was delicious for just £3.95, as was the Moroccan classic chicken tagine for £10.95.
The interior is quite something:
So is the bar:
It’s worth ordering the fresh mint tea for the pot alone:
Address: 12 Flagstaff House, 9 St George Wharf, London SW8 2LE.
Kennington is well known for its gin distillery but did you know we also have a small but increasingly popular brewery? Orbit Beers was founded in 2014 under a railway arch in East Kennington with the slogan of Hi-Fidelity Brewing (and we can now answer Nick Hornby’s question about what the main character of his book High Fidelity would be doing following the closure of his record shop – he’d have started a craft brewery).
Orbit open their doors to the public on the third Saturday of each month in winter, so that means this coming Saturday. We went along last month to have a look.
If you went to the beer hall at Kernel Brewery when they used to serve beer on tap on a Saturday then, well, this is a little smaller scale, with just one table.
Orbit have outgrown the space, hence all the boxes below, and they’re hoping to expand into the arch next door.
When we visited, they weren’t serving anything on tap, but were offering their full range of bottled beers at £2.50 each or less if you buy bulk.
We took two bottles home to taste. The Orbit Peel session blonde ale looks like this and has a bit more of a real ale edge to it than a Hoegaarden or Blue Moon:
Orbit’s most unusual beer is probably their Altbier, a style popular in Düsseldorf that tastes somewhere between and an ale and a lager:
If you head down to the brewery on Saturday and the table is taken, you can always head around the corner to The Beehive for a pint of Doom Bar.
Alternatively, several Orbit Beers are available from Oddbins on Kennington Road, and if you want to try it on tap, one of their beers is a permanent fixture at the Old Red Lion.
Address: Railway Arches 225 & 228, Fielding Street, London, SE17 3HD.
Having never understood the excitement of buying Christmas presents in July, we launch our Christmas gift guide today, with the luxury of at least four shopping days left to purchase thoughtful local items for your nearest and dearest.
Sally White is bursting at the seams with packages of Christmas foodstuffs, trussed up with ribbon and sprigs of tasteful non-sparkly tinsel. From a whole box filled with their Kennington-famous brownies (a gift to oneself if ever we did see one), to bags of excellent cinnamon stars (which we can confirm are much tastier than the Konditor & Cook version, having tasted both). They are also doing a range of seasonal hand-made chocolates in a squirrel theme, praline Santas, stollen, mince pies, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake, and the ever-wonderful three nut crackers. We ate the seasonal pralines before gifting them when they first appeared, so are perhaps consider buying two lots. They also have healthily sized hampers with much of the above contained within.
Italo Deli would make another good one-stop shop for a hamper – Kernel ales, Rococo chocolates, and lots of fine jams, chutneys, meats and cheeses, plus good chat while you peruse.
Our most frequently visited Kennington shop, the Super Store at 161 Kennington Lane, have really gone to town with the Christmas window display this year (below). In addition to the biggest box of Guylian we have ever seen they also stock a wide variety of Lindt.
What better gift than the gift of food to someone who actually needs it? Donations can be made at the Vauxhall Foodbank, 105 Tyers Street, Vauxhall, SE11 5HS any time during office hours, Mon-Fri 9.30-5pm (Wickham Street Entrance). If you are bringing a larger donation (more than a couple of shopping bags), or if you need help unloading a donation, call them on 07586 258991 or email so that they can ensure they have someone who can help you. If you would prefer to donate money you can do that online here. Waterloo Foodbank is at 1 Kennington Road, London SE1 7QP and on 020 7921 4205.
Oddbins are open until 7pm Christmas Eve, stock a good selection of craft ales, and occasionally local brewer Orbit, and Havana cigars.
Oval Farmers’ Market are going all out for Christmas. They have the usual market on Saturday 19th from 10 to 3, and a panto in St. Mark’s Church alongside the market on the 19th as well. Tickets include a Christmas party after the panto with Christmas elves, story telling, games, balloon modelling and much, much more. Book your places as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org. Children £4 each, parents go free. Then a special Christmas market from 2pm – 7pm on the 22nd. Expect your favourite Oval Farmers’ Market stallholders plus live music from The Peas and Dai & The Ramblers, mulled wine & cider, handmade crafts for the perfect gift, and festive treats.
Local biscuit couturiers the Biscuiteers, who have their workshop on Stannary Street marked with a fetching illustration of their dog mascot, are offering free delivery if you order from them by midnight tonight (enter code CHRISTMASJUMPER). We are holding out for a hand-iced Kennington Runoff logo.
The gift of relaxation
Yogabelle, who offers yoga and massage in the uplifting surroundings of the Siobhan Davies Studios, will provide gift vouchers so that you can give someone the gift of wellbeing. Her massages and classes both come highly recommended.
Homewares, flowers, art and other stuff
Shalimar will be open this Saturday as a one-off, to cater for all the people flooding there following our recent blog post.
The Damien Hirst shop Other Criteria, adjacent to the Newport Street Gallery, for Harland Miller beach towels, butterfly plates, and a box of Pharmacy branded matchbooks for £75.
Brunswick House for a pair of 19th century French cast iron urns, or a substantial Scottish pond yacht. Open until 2pm Christmas Eve.
Vanilla Black is open until this Sunday, with new and used books for sale.
Imperial War Museum has at least three different shops under its newly redeveloped Foster & Partners roof. If you’ve never been, the shops offer surprisingly high end products, including some nice jewellery outside the Lee Miller exhibition.
Jamjar Flowers, Tomorrow’s People or Windmill Flowers for bunches of flowers that will please everyone. Windmill Flowers also have Charbonnel et Walker chocolates, alpaca scarves, succulents in coconut shells, and are open until 2pm Christmas Eve.