Tag Archives: Vauxhall

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.

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.

The Top Ten Best Lunch Spots in Kennington – no. 7 – Vauxhall Street Food Garden

Positives: Ingenious use of outside space bringing several new street food options to the area. Sometimes they offer free filter coffee. They’re open weekday day times from 11.30am to 9.30pm, but tomorrow is the start of their last week for the year due to inclement weather. See our original review here – but all the stalls have changed since then. Here were the menus on our recent visit:

Zingle Food - North African cuisine

Zingle Food – North African cuisine

Naughty Roti - Indian inspired burritos

Naughty Roti – Indian inspired burritos

Argentine Steaks & Burgers

Argentine Steaks & Burgers

Chinese food

Chinese food

Burmese food

Burmese food

Negatives: There’s no escaping the fact that this is the outside area of the Lightbox nightclub and not actually a garden by any stretch of the imagination. There aren’t too many veggie options. In fact there aren’t as many stalls as when the “garden” opened last year, and those that are there haven’t taken as much trouble over their appearance.

Vauxhall Street Food Garden entrance - kenningtonrunoff.com

Hygiene rating: N/A

Address: 6A South Lambeth Place, London SW8 1SP

Facebook page

Come back next Sunday to see what’s at no. 6.

Supper Club Frenzy

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

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 & Shoots

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.

Brunswick House restaurant - kenningtonrunoff.com

Brunswick House restaurant

The Top Ten Best Lunch Spots in Kennington – no. 9 – Tea House Theatre

Tea House Theatre - Kenningtonrunoff.com

Positives: They transformed a former pub into a tea house with a lot of personality. A convivial setting, on what is now called Vauxhall Walk Square, on the edge of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. At lunch, they do a good Welsh rarebit, a kedgeree, and just about every type of tea you could think of. Sometimes there’s live music, and it’s an events space at night, for everything from poetry to ballroom dancing to, yes, theatre. It’s Kennington’s most baby-friendly venue – they will roll out the red changing mat for you and your little one.

Tea House Theatre cakes and tea - kenningtonrunoff.com

Negatives: About those babies – if you don’t want to eat lunch surrounded by NCT groups, you’re in the wrong place. Being militant about tea, they don’t serve coffee. There’s a big choice of cakes but they are all intensely creamy and rich.

Cakes at the Tea House Theatre - kenningtonrunoff.com

Hygiene rating: 4 out of 5

Address: 139 Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5HL

Website

Come back next Sunday to see what’s at no. 8.

Po’ Boys – New Orleans pop-up restaurant

A good rule of thumb for pop-up dining experiences – the longer a pop-up runs, the more likely it is to be a professional outfit. We will never forget a visit to a very short-lived pop-up in Bethnal Green that involved drinking Aldi own-brand lemonade from water cooler cups while waiting for our undercooked stew to arrive. Po’ Boys, a journey through New Orleans cuisine set in a hidden steelyard in West Kennington, is running until September, and it shows. The venue – The Yard on Durham Street – has hosted a handful of food events since it opened last year, and while it’s no Creole townhouse, it felt a long way from the fringes of the West Kennington gyratory on a balmy Friday night.

Po Boys bar - kenningtonrunoff.com

Draped with Mardi Gras beads on entrance through a small speak-easy style door, guests are offered a potent New Orleans Hurricane cocktail in the cobbled hackers yard. Dining is at communal tables – Sathnam Sanghera was sat on ours; perhaps you’ll find Will Self trying another local dining option after his saddening time at Dirty Burger?

Po Boys table - kenningtonrunoff.com

When the food came, it was tasty without exception – Jalapeño Poppers pegged up on a steel washing line (above), sticky sweet Dr Pepper-doused ribs, tiny mason jars filled with pickled crawfish, an authentic-tasting gumbo (below), and a very heady Mississippi Mud Pie (further below). All to a soundtrack that stretched from the Kygo remix of Sexual Healing through to Bayou anthem Proud Mary.

Po Boys Wenny's Big Mamma Gumbo - kenningtonrunoff.com

Po Boys Mississippi Mud Pie - kenningtonrunoff.com

Tickets for a few of the dates are already sold out, but there are still plenty left with good availability.

Dates: Friday nights, Saturday nights & Sunday lunches on selected dates to 27th September. Cost: £35 for five courses plus cocktail.

Address: The Yard, 4 Durham Street, SE11 5JA.

The Foundry

Did you know that Kennington is home to a new, RIBA award winning centre for human rights and social justice organisations?

The Foundry is on Oval Way, next to the gasworks:

The Foundry exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The interior is particularly impressive:

The Foundry stairs - kenningtonrunoff.com The Foundry interior - kenningtonrunoff.com.JPG

Beaconsfield are curating a selection of relevant art in the public spaces of The Foundry over the coming year. The current exhibition is called On The Wire, after the Leonard Cohen song Bird On The Wire, or perhaps the Kennington-based concert promoters of the same name, and runs until Friday.

This was our favourite from it – Mathew Gibson’s Checkpoint, with its echoes of MC Escher:

Mathew Gibson - Checkpoint - kenningtonrunoff.com

Most of the art is for sale, priced between £700 + VAT and £3000 + VAT.

The Foundry is open to the public on weekdays between 9am and 5pm, and is located at 17 Oval Way, SE11 5RR.