Tag Archives: Review

Brunch at Ben’s Canteen

19th September 2013

One of the things I love about living in London is having great restaurants and shops within walking distance.  It’s even better when you can count somewhere as your ‘local’, because it’s just around the corner.

Ben’s Canteen is my new favourite local since I moved – a charming, cosy little place that describes itself perfectly as an ‘all day neighbourhood hangout’.  They do glorious brunches, yummy burgers, dinner and drinks.  You can find them a short walk up St John’s Hill in Battersea – it’s close to Clapham Junction.

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O and I wandered over for a brunch/lunch a couple of days ago.  When the weather’s nice, the doors are open onto the street, and you can sit on benches outside.  It was a bit nippy, so we settled down opposite the bar and scanned the menu.

I’ve been enough times now that I know what I want pretty quickly.

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                                     Quirky salt and pepper dishes and water carafes

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Are you ready?  Ta da… el Breakfast Burrito…

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Just look at the melty cheese coming out of that bad boy.  We’re talking eggs, chorizo, cheese and coriander.  What a combo.  It’s so delicious that I actually took the idea home and made some myself – but that’s another story for another day.

This burrito is the ultimate hangover cure (+ Bloody Mary, if it’s really hurting).

O was sipping on cloudy apple juice and lime as his full English (the ‘Big Ben’) arrived.

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It comes with beans as well, but we asked for them on the side so that I could eat them!

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Because I am incapable of only ordering one thing at a restaurant, here’s what else we had…

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Unbelievable hash browns (these are more gratin-esque than crunchy for anyone interested).

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And a side of mac & cheese.  I am a big m&c fan – if it’s available you can be sure I’ll ask for it.  While this is good, I think that the menu should note that it’s quite mustardy.  I do like the flavour, but not everybody is keen and it was a bit of a surprise.

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We may have had slightly too much food, but managed to accommodate it somehow…

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The poached eggs were exactly right – look at the yolk.

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Please go and try Ben’s Canteen for yourself – the staff are all very welcoming and friendly and it’s a nice place to watch the world go by.  If I’m home, I might come and join!

P.S. I think it’s likely I’ll do another Ben’s post about the dinner menu soon – watch this space.

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Frank’s Cafe

16th September 2013

I probably shouldn’t say things like this (as it’s a bit embarrassing for me), but I do think that some places make you feel cooler than others.  When there’s an atmosphere, a location, a buzz that’s exactly right and appears effortless.  

Frank’s Cafe is one of those places.  Before I continue, just get a look at this view.

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine called some last minute birthday drinks and so a group of us met at Frank’s on a Thursday night.  This was before autumn set in, and the evening was clear and warm.

To get there, you make your way to Peckham multi-storey carpark, and then climb all the way to the Level 6 rooftop.  It feels a little strange pacing through the concrete slopes and stairs on foot, but as soon as you come out into the open air it all makes sense.

Frank’s Cafe is open from July through to September and is part of the Bold Tendencies Sculpture Project.  This means that there are some interesting pieces of art to have a look at if you go and visit.

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The sunset and city skyline were stunning, and the wide open space was full of Londoners enjoying the late summer weather.

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There is a bar under tarpaulin which efficiently churns out drinks (I am reliably informed that you can now download an app to place your drinks order before going to pick it up) and an open grill.  The food is specials that change daily along with an assortment of finger food – sardines, olives, smoky nuts and so on.

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We sipped on Campari cocktails and snacked on hummus with hunks of bread.

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And then settled in to watch the night arrive.

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You can find the Frank’s website here.  They’re closing for the year on September 29th, so you’ve still got time to go.  

If the chill has already got into your bones and you don’t fancy wrapping up, then make sure it’s on your list for next summer!

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Shrimpy’s

5th September 2013

My friend E recently found herself in need of a place to stay at short notice.  As luck would have it, I was off to Cervinia at exactly the right time.

So she moved in to my house and kept A company while I was away.   Ideal.

Anyway, the point of the story is that E very kindly took A and I out to dinner to say thank you for having her.  Totally unnecessary but extremely generous.  So I can now thank her again in this post… and tell you all about it.

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We had been talking about going to Shrimpy’s ever since it opened last year, and somehow never managed to make it.  This meant that it was with more than a little excitement that I approached The Filling Station at King’s Cross.

The reason it’s calling The Filling Station, is that it actually used to be a BP petrol station.  How’s that for alternative?  What’s been retained is a very cool, edgily industrial location for dinner and drinks.

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You follow the signs around the back and find Shrimpy’s with a long bar under an overhang ceiling, open to the air.  There’s inside restaurant tables as well, in a quirky and welcoming space.

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Think painted walls, brass pineapples and spiky cacti on the windowsill.  The tables are decorated with a mantra.

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I really like the retro water glasses.

Yummy popped corn nibbly things arrived, and I ummed and ahhed over the menu like always.  Shrimpy’s serves Tex-Mexy/American/Seafood type food.  Basically, it’s hard to put it in a box.

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And this is what we decided on…

Chicharon – if you like pork scratchings, you need these in your mouth.  They are a spicy, smoky, crunchy delicious treat, and the guacamole that comes with them works perfectly.

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Frickles – deep fried, pickled chillies – are you a gherkin fan?  These are like the naughty version of gherkins.  So, so moreish

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And now for the main parade – E and I had the soft shell crab burger and A had the cheeseburger in a bonnet.

The crab came with avocado and chilli and it more than met my expectations.  It was fab (fab crab, see) – if you go, definitely order it.

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Look, burger in a bonnet – too cute.

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On the side we had hot macaroni and fries.  The macaroni really rocked my world.

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I thought the service at Shrimpy’s was great – the staff were all lovely, water was constantly topped up and all of my silly questions about the food were answered.

The view across the way…

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Obviously, there was room for pudding.  If you go to Shrimpy’s make sure you leave room for pudding.

Banana and peanut butter sandwich

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Meringue, hibiscus syrup, chantilly and pineapple

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I think the photos pretty much do it justice.  I was way too full (but happy) by the time we were done.  Like this happy giraffe.

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That’s pretty much all, except to say thank you E for an amazing meal!  And does anybody want to go back with me?

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