When Kennington Bookshop closed down, we campaigned for Daunt Books to take over the site, at 306-308 Kennington Road, SE11 4LD. We even polled the people of Kennington and they unanimously supported this (except for four contrarians who we suspect are estate agents from Clapham). Daunt Books, on the other hand, completely ignored us.
But no matter, because today something better opened on the site – Vanilla Black Coffee & Books (no relation to Vanilla Black the vegetarian restaurant near Chancery Lane).
As well as Allpress coffee and some swanky looking teas, they serve a variety of cookies, croissants, cakes and muffins including some dairy and gluten free options, and some delicious Portugese-style blueberry custard tarts.
Their breakfast options range from £3.50 to £4.20 and include rolls, croissants, porridge, yoghurts, sourdough toasts, and Scottish smoked salmon and cream cheese.
We went for lunch and, in customary Kennington Runoff style, started eating before we remembered to photograph our food, which was a hearty portion of spinach and feta filo pastry quiche with a mixture of salads for £8 (veggies beware – one of the salads contained bacon).
They also do a beetroot quiche which is really good. We’re convinced it contains plums although they don’t mention that. And they serve toasted sandwiches and a soup of the day, plus some delicious freshly blended juices.
We said the downstairs would be a surprise – and the surprise is that it’s decorated like someone’s living room, probably in Chiswick, complete with a roaring gas fire.
It’s the kind of place you could spend hours, and there’s now a toilet downstairs to help with that (also decorated like someone’s house).
As for the books, they have a small selection of new ones, including some for children, but with less of a literary emphasis than Kennington Bookshop (Game of Thrones, Dan Brown, Dawn French….):
They have a much bigger second hand section:
The second hand section continues downstairs where there are sections on cookery, art and photography.
You can order books from them and if you’re lucky they will get them the next day. email firstname.lastname@example.org
They sell some very nice wrapping paper. If they could add tasteful greetings cards then we could start doing what we did with Kennington Bookshop and buying all our gifts from there (December 2015 edit – they are now selling Christmas cards). But this is already better than Kennington Bookshop, who never served blueberry custard tarts, and better than we’d dared hope.
Their opening hours as of November 2015 are Tuesday to Friday 8am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm, and Sunday 10am to 4pm (closed on Mondays).