Category Archives: West Kennington

New year, new Counter

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.

Wild sea trout and Granny Smith apple tartar, chives, creme fraiche at Counter - kenningtonrunoff.com

Our other choice of starter was the decidedly un-French duck tacos, which Chef Mahrez has yet to banish from West Kennington:

Pulled Gressingham duck tacos, cucumber, sweet and sour sauce at Counter - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

Honey glazed wild salmon fillet, grilled artichokes, dandelion leaves at Counter - kenningtonrunoff.com

For those of you who are in the throes of Veganuary, there’s the Quinoa Hot Pot:

Quinoa hot pot at Counter - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

London SW8 1SP

020 3693 9600

opening hours:
Monday to Thursday    7am-12:30am
Friday    7am-1:30am
Saturday    9am-1:30am
Sunday    9am-12:30am

Tiffany Bar – Korean Bistro and karaoke bar

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.

Jihwaja shopfront newly installed - kenningtonrunoff.com

Anyway, in case you want to read about what Tiffany was like…

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro Breakfast at Tiffany's print - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro karaoke and dining room - kenningtonrunoff.com

Naturally we ordered a Korean pale lager called Hite, and a sweet drink (if only we could remember what that was).

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro exterior drinks inc. Hite beer - kenningtonrunoff.com

The vegetable kimchi was really good and spicy.

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro vegetable kimchi - kenningtonrunoff.com

The seafood noodle soup was so rich we struggled to finish it.

Tiffany Bar Korean Bistro seafood noodle soup - kenningtonrunoff.com

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

The Old Dairy at Vauxhall City Farm

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.

Vauxhall City Farm extension - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

The Old Dairy Dining Room - kenningtonrunoff.com

The Old Dairy dresser - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

White bean risotto with aspargus, spinach and onion broth at The Old Dairy - kenningtonrunoff.comLeek & feta puff pastry tart with olives and capers at The Old Dairy - kenningtonrunoff.com

The cake stand:

The Old Dairy cake stand - kenningtonrunoff.com.JPG

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.

Souk River Lounge

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:

Souk River Lounge exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

soup at Souk River Lounge - kenningtonrunoff.com

The interior is quite something:

Souk River Lounge seating - kenningtonrunoff.com

So is the bar:

bar at Souk River Lounge - kenningtonrunoff.com

It’s worth ordering the fresh mint tea for the pot alone:

fresh mint tea at Souk River Lounge - kenningtonrunoff.com

Address: 12 Flagstaff House, 9 St George Wharf, London SW8 2LE.

Orbit Beers brewery

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.

Orbit Brewery beer sign - kenningtonrunoff.com

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 Brewery exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Orbit have outgrown the space, hence all the boxes below, and they’re hoping to expand into the arch next door.

Orbit Brewery interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

Orbit Brewery counter - kenningtonrunoff.com

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 Beers Peel session blonde ale - kenningtonrunoff.com

Orbit’s most unusual beer is probably their Altbier, a style popular in Düsseldorf that tastes somewhere between and an ale and a lager:

Orbit Beers Neu Altbier - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

Kennington Christmas shopping guide

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.

Edible gifts

Sally White Christmas baskets - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

Prime Super Store Christmas window display - kenningtonrunoff.com

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 panto@weareccfm.com. 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

The Boule-In are open until the 23rd, as are Brocket Gallery.

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.

 

great things we have eaten or drunk in Kennington recently

Bao pao with sea bream from Marcel & Sons:

Bao Pao at Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

Poitiers bread with sunflower seeds from the Kennington Bakery:

Poitiers_1094_729_w

Apple and cinnamon stuffed French toast with candied walnuts at Counter (although the service still leaves something to be desired).

Counter entrance - kenningtonrunoff.com

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.

PJ Frankland shop front - kenningtonrunoff.com

Pop Art Sushi and sushi in Kennington

Kennington has three sushi restaurants we can think of. SW9 Sushi at 62 Brixton Road is a reasonable neighbourhood Japanese. The Sushi Chef at 1 Kennington Lane (in between Toulouse Lautrec and The Lobster Pot and owned by the same people) mainly does catering for events but you can get individual portions as takeaway and it’s always likely to be fresh. But the strangest and most enjoyable of the three is Pop Art Sushi at the bottom of St George Wharf, facing the Vauxhall Gyratory.

Pop Art Sushi exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Why strange? There rarely seems to be anyone in there – we were the only diners throughout our visit. But the sushi and the service are really good, as are the 194 reviews on TripAdvisor which make it the 114th ranked restaurant out of 18,000 in London. What’s more, it doubles up as a pop art gallery, the Amstel Art Gallery (named after its founder so not to be confused with the beer). They say they were the first art gallery in Vauxhall back in 2011. They sell prints by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein alongside some original pieces by people we’d never heard of.

Roy Lichtenstein print

Roy Lichtenstein print

Imagine if Planet Hollywood did sushi, and pop art. You’ll never have seen a restaurant interior quite like it:

Pop Art Sushi interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Back to the food. It’s fresh, flavoursome, and affordable. The avocado nigiri (£7.19) were flawless:

avocado nigiri

The sweet potato croquettes were a little on the dry side but only cost £4.19:

sweet potato croquettes

Japan is not renowned for its deserts but these mochis – spice mango rice ice cream balls – were fun:

Mochi - spicy mango rice ice cream balls

Or if you want something more familiar, they do pancakes:

pancakes

We really would recommend paying a visit soon, and we want this unique restaurant to stay open so tell your friends how good it is.

Address: Pop Art Sushi, 8 Wandsworth Road, Unit 7 St. George Wharf, London SW8 2JW.

The Top Ten Best Lunch Spots in Kennington – no. 4* – Italo Deli

Positives: Bonnington Square is brilliant – a tropical oasis of calm just yards from the Vauxhall gyratory, but with Bohemian party vibes where desired, and a unique recent history rooted in squatting. Italo Deli is at the heart of Bonnington Square. They serve fresh pasta, delicious salads, fruit and veg (some of which is grown by residents of the square), Kennington’s own Rococo Chocolate, and two of our favourite products: Kernel beer and Gelupo gelati.

Italo Deli - kenningtonrunoff.com

Negatives: All their seating is outside so if the weather’s bad, takeout is the way to go. The menu is short so check their Twitter page before heading there to make sure there’s something you want. It’s not the fastest food in Kennington; we once arrived there at 1pm to find them not taking lunch orders for another 15 minutes, but that was a weekend – we suspect they’re more on it on weekdays.

Italo Deli shelves - kenningtonrunoff.com

Hygiene rating: 3 out of 5

Address: 13 Bonnington Square, London SW8 1TE

Website (much improved)

Come back next Sunday to see what’s at no. 3

* You may be wondering why Italo Deli is no. 4 when we already posted Elephant Shack as no. 4 last week. Well, Elephant Shack have rather inconsiderately “pivoted” and are now making bread for supermarkets or some such, and no longer serving lunch to Kenningtonians. As it happens we already had our top ten selected and Elephant Shack were a last minute addition – a no. 11 if you like – so now we’re back to the original ten.