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).
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
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.
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.
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 first event sold out, so get in quick before the next, coming up this Thursday, goes the same way – tickets here.
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
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 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.
It’s open to the public Wednesday–Saturday, 11am–5pm, and runs until February 28th. As for The Ragged Canteen, they serve drinks and cakes whenever the gallery’s open, plus lunch Wednesday, Thursday and Friday lunchtimes, and all-day brunch on Saturdays.
We had a green goddess pesto and roasted vegetable toastie, and this warm winter vegetable minestrone (actually more of a stew than a soup) with spelt bread, which is a typical Ragged Canteen kind of dish:
If you want Eggs Benedict or buttermilk pancakes, this is not the place for you, but if you’re in the mood for something hearty and vegetarian, you won’t do better than the Ragged Canteen. Plus the service is friendly, you’ll have no problem getting a table, and the building is great.
4. Aobaba pros: top quality Vietnamese food and loads of choice – who needs Kingsland Road?
cons: it’s a brightly lit cafeteria on the side of an Oriental supermarket so don’t come here for the ambiance hygiene rating: 4
3. The Ragged Canteen at Beaconsfield pros: super tasty vegetarian food and organic Monmouth coffee
cons: it’s not open that often (they serve hot food Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays from noon, last orders 2.25pm; at other times it’s drinks and cakes) hygiene rating: 4
2. Brunswick House pros: totally unique setting amidst LASSCO’s antiques, plus top quality seasonal food
cons: the staff can be rude, and if you want to buy the chair you’re sitting on, be prepared to remortgage your house first hygiene rating: 3
Beaconsfield, based in a former Victorian Ragged School, is the biggest and architecturally most impressive of the surprisingly large number of art galleries in Kennington, although it’s likely to be trumped by Damien Hirst’s new gallery which is due to open just up the road in 2014.
Art at Beaconsfield tends towards the modern and the conceptual, and they are funded by the Arts Council.
On weekday lunchtimes their Ragged Canteen serves really great vegetarian food (at other times they serve drinks and cakes). In an area with various good veggie cafes in surprising places – see also The Garden Museum and the Jamyang Buddhist Centre – The Ragged Canteen is the best. If only it were open more often and for longer.
The door is permanently locked – ring the bell to get in.