Tag Archives: Elephant & Castle

It’s competition time! Win a super limited edition vinyl album by The Maccabees

The Maccabees’ no. 1 album Marks To Prove It is a tribute to North Kennington (or, as The Maccabees rather quaintly still call it, Elephant & Castle). The album was recorded at the band’s own Elephant Studios, the videos are set in North Kennington, and the cover features a photo of the Michael Faraday Memorial.

We’ve managed to lay our hands on an extremely limited edition vinyl copy of the album. Not only is the vinyl blue like the Elephant & Castle shopping centre but, in a tribute to the wind turbines at the top of the Strata building, the sticker has been placed so as to make the A side completely unplayable!

Maccabees limited edition vinyl - kenningtonrunoff.com

To win this unique item which has North Kennington written all over it, just tell us why the Strata’s turbines don’t turn anymore. Leave a comment below or email kenningtonrunoff@gmali.com or tweet us.

The top ten restaurants in Kennington – those that didn’t quite make it

Mamuśka slipped out of our top ten this year as we have had occasional stodgy dishes there, but those dishes may well have been authentically Polish, and if you’ve never been, you really should go for the experience and the atmosphere.

Mamuska - kenningtonrunoff.com

Emanuel also has a great atmosphere and feels authentically Peruvian – maybe a a bit too authentic at times.

We’re reasonably regular visitors to Amici, at the junction of Windmill Row and Kennington Lane, which is a decent, friendly Italian. They have outdoor seating in the courtyard which is great when the weather’s good. To us Amici represents the old Kennington where the likes of the Duchy Arms, Brunswick House and Doost (from the same owners as Amici) represent the new, but long may it last.

We have a soft spot for Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec and we’re grateful there is live music (mostly jazz) in Kennington every night, but we’re bigger fans of their brunch than their bistro evening menu.

The food at Kennington Tandoori is a cut above your average curry house, and probably marginally better than Gandhi’s (who are also very good and do a great value vegetable thali). KT have nice bright premises with a front that opens onto the street – pleasant in the summer months. But we’ve talked before about their “customer is always wrong” attitude. We had another run in with them this year where we complained, they rather aggressively told us we were wrong, so we provided proof to back up our complaint, which was met with silence. We don’t want to give any more details for fear of being banned. And it’s not just us – see their Tripadvisor page for some real pearls.

Kennington Tandoori - kenningtonrunoff.com

Anyway, we’d love to see all these restaurants burst into the top ten next year, and would welcome suggestions of any we’ve missed.

The Top Ten Best Restaurants in Kennington – no. 3 – The Lobster Pot

Positives: Everyone should go to The Lobster Pot at least once. The lobster is sensational, and so is the nautical-themed decor:

A fish through the porthole of The Lobster Pot - kenningtonrunoff.com

Negatives: Last year’s winner has slipped to no. 3 this year because it’s not the kind of restaurants we feel drawn to time and time again – it’s pricey (mains start at £20.50), and you do have to be in the right mood. Also, the use of inverted commas in this advert:

The Lobster Pot advert - Kennington tube - kenningtonrunoff.com

Hygiene rating: 5 out of 5

Address: 3 Kennington Lane, London SE11 4RG

last year's no. 1

Come back next Sunday to find out the number 2.

The Top Ten Best Restaurants in Kennington – no. 4 – Marcel & Sons

Positives: It’s Mauritian – how many other Mauritian restaurants/tea rooms/showrooms are there around? The two founders are very friendly and put a lot of love and care into their Mauritian comfort food cooking, which is as tasty as that description sounds. It’s BYOB and cheap. There are more and more food places moving into Artworks but Marcel & Sons were trailblazers who are steadily getting more popular as word gets around. Plus you can pick up some artisan jewellery and a t-shirt while you’re there. See here for more info.

Randy and Andy from Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

Negatives: Marcel & Sons is not so much a restaurant as a canteen in a shipping container where you eat surrounded by boutique products, so don’t go expecting formal dining. They close around 9pm, and at the time of writing they don’t open on Mondays, although they plan to start doing so soon to try out new dishes.

Hygiene rating: 4 out of 5

Address: 17b The Artworks, Elephant Road, London SE17 1LB

Come back next Sunday to find out the number 3.

The Top Ten Best Restaurants in Kennington – no. 9 – Aobaba

Positives: Great, affordable, fast Vietnamese street food, bánh mì, bubble tea and Vietnamese beers.

Aobaba food - kenningtonrunoff.com

Negatives: It’s a bit of a sterile environment, being one side of an oriental supermarket on Walworth Road. Not recommended for dates.

Hygiene rating: 4 out of 5

Address: 128-132 Walworth Road, London SE17 1JL

Aobaba - kenningtonrunoff.com

Come back next Sunday to find out the number eight.

Requiem for the Subways

Requiem for the Subways

Sadly, the campaign to save the subways under the north roundabout in North Kennington is all over bar the singing. The 104 year old subways will be filled with concrete from April 9th.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, is your chance to say goodbye. Meet in the centre of the roundabout at 7pm. From sunset, there will be a free choral performance of a specially written composition by Danyal Dhondy, with one section being performed in each of the seven subways.

our North and East Kennington predictions for 2015

North Kennington (formerly known as Elephant & Castle) will be a messy snarl up from some time very soon for at least a year because of two massive Transport For London projects: the reconfiguration of the North roundabout, and the installation of the new cycle superhighway on St George’s Road. The number of cranes is expected to increase too, and associated construction beneath them, as Lend Lease commence work on the portion at the top of Walworth Road, including a 31 storey tower.

Ministry of Sound will get what they want in terms of planning approval, because they love to fight hard and win.

What will become of the shopping centre? Whatever it is, let’s hope it manages to keep the downtown Bogotá/magical realism vibe that makes it so vibrant at present. Likewise the Coronet and the bowling alley – North Kennington needs these!

The good news is the new Castle Leisure Centre will open in the heart of North Kennington with its two lovely pools (one of them 25m long), sports hall, gym, crèche, café, and a wooden ceiling for those doing back stroke to admire.

The Castle Leisure Centre

The Castle Leisure Centre

There will continue to be havens of green space in the area, including a new Mobile Gardeners event and gardening space opening on New Kent Road called Grow Elephant.

The modernist Perronet House (between St George’s Road and London Road on the North roundabout) will join Metro Central Heights in being listed. See this article about one of the top floor flats.

Like The Duchy Arms, North Kennington’s Marcel & Sons will cease to be a best-kept secret and become a destination eatery.

As for East Kennington, Walworth Road could become a foodie haven if some of the establishments would just sort out their Food Standards ratings.

last minute Christmas shopping ideas, and the qubes at Marcel & Sons

If you have left your Christmas shopping to the last minute but don’t fancy leaving Kennington for the madness of Oxford Street then fear not, we have suggestions for you.

Sally White are doing Christmas hampers containing six mince pies, a Christmas pudding, a Christmas cake loaf and a robin (not a real one) for £37. They’re open tomorrow and Tuesday daytime.

The Beefeater Gin Distillery’s visitor centre is open every day except Christmas Day and has an extensive gift shop for the patriotic gin lover in your life.

Windmill Flowers have a range of Christmas gifts for plant lovers, plus chocolates and toiletries, and they’re normally open on Christmas Eve although we haven’t checked that.

We buy loads of gifts from the Kennington Bookshop and their Twitter has lots of ideas for presents. If you want to avoid buying from Amazon, they can normally get any book in the next day, but you’ve missed the boat for that this Christmas so you’ll be limited to what they have instore. They also sell wrapping paper.

LASSCO is open until 5pm on December 23rd and they have gift ideas for here for under £300 (if that sounds expensive then bear in mind this is the shop where an antique bath could set you back the best part of £10k).

And in our rave review of Marcel & Sons, we barely mentioned that as well as serving delicious Mauritian street food, they double up as a showroom selling a range of interesting artisanal gifts on behalf of boutique start-ups. They’re open until 9pm tonight, Tuesday and Christmas Eve (they’re closed on Mondays).

These are their “qubes” – they have 48 of them – 40cm cubed shelf spaces available to rent from £10 a week:

Qubes at Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

Qubes close up at Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

They also have six cases for jewellery and other valuables:

Jewellry cases at Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

Get them to give you some Mauritian biscuits with your purchase. They’re like mini sponge cakes:

Napolitaine biscuits at Marcel and Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

Finally, if you’d like to give something to those less fortunate then get along to Waterloo Foodbank, at Lambeth Mission St Mary’s, 3-5 Lambeth Road, SE1 7DQ on Tuesday from 11am to 1pm. They’re looking for donations of in-date, non-perishable foods.

Good luck and have a happy Kennington Christmas.

Marcel & Sons Mauritian tearoom and restaurant

Marcel & Sons is one of the freshest, most exciting restaurant/cafe openings in London, but, so far, one of the most low-key.

Andy Ng and Randy Tsang used to work in advertising (Andy was a creative director at M&C Saatchi), but they quit the rat race to start a Mauritian tea room, restaurant and showroom in Artworks, the shipping container park at the junction of Walworth Road and Elephant Road in North Kennington. Theirs is the dark green entrance in the bottom left:

The Artworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

Such is their aversion to their former trade of advertising that all they’ve done to publicise Marcel & Sons is start a Facebook and an Instagram account. When we went, we were the only customers in there, but the food and the welcome were so great that perhaps word of mouth will be enough to fill their tiny restaurant.

Randy, on the left, is a the fully qualified Cordon Bleu chef, and Andy, on the right, is the front of house:

Randy and Andy from Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you’re wondering what the cases and shelves on either side are, that’s the showroom element, but we’ll leave that for another day because right now we want to focus on the wonderful food.

We’d never had Mauritian food before and we were blown away. You’ll recognise elements from Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and Korean food, and Marcel & Sons’ take on it has some French Cordon Bleu influence with an emphasis on comfort food (they steer clear of certain Mauritian specialities like sea cucumber and octopus). We could see it catching on in a big way.

There are just three main courses on the menu, but they change every day. We had Bol Renversé which is a sweet yet savoury upside down bowl of rice with homemade Mauritian sausage, sweet wine, onion, garlic, choi sum, fried egg, spring onion and coriander. We liked it so much we even tolerated the shitache mushrooms. The packaging is great too:

Bol Renervse box from Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

But the real star dish was Bao Pao – crunchy strips of beef, mazavaroo aioli, pickled cucumber and watercress served in a delicious soft steamed bun:

Bao Pao at Marcel & Sons - kenningtonrunoff.com

The menu was quite meat heavy but they can do a veggie version of Nouik Nain (steamed chayote dumplings).

Drinks wise, the Mauritian speciality is Alouda Vanilla, featuring Madagascar vanilla, sugarcane syrup, basil seeds, agar and milk, and yes, it’s as sweet as it sounds. They don’t serve alcohol but you’re welcome to BYOB, or get a drink from the new Longwave bar which has just opened right outside.

They’re closed on Mondays because the market where they buy their ingredients is closed, but they’re open from 11am to 9pm every other day. Get along there quick before the queue stretches out of the door and they open their twentieth branch in the Westfield food hall.

Sidewalk Stories at Hotel Elephant

Last night we went to a screening of a wonderful, moving film, and it’s coming to (near) Kennington on Friday.

Sidewalk Stories is a largely forgotten silent film from 1989 that inspired the director of The Artist. Imagine The Kid by Kennington’s own Charlie Chaplin, but set in the New York of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. It features great performances from writer/director Charles Lane and his very cute young daughter, and a truly impactful ending.

Read more about the film here and buy tickets for the screening at Hotel Elephant on Friday at 8pm here.