Canova Hall revisited

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address: 250 Ferndale Road SW9 2BQ

telephone: 020 7733 8356

email: bookings@canovahall.com

https://www.canovahall.com/

We really want to like Canova Hall. The idea of having a local brasserie style place for casual dining, or just a morning cup of coffee, has a lot of appeal. But they do make it difficult, leaving on one side issues of gentrification, as it’s simply not as good as it ought to be.

We’ve been a number of times – see here, here and even here for a bacon sandwich. But our reaction has generallly been lukewarm at best. But hope springs eternal, so it seemed the right place to take a stranger to Brixton for a working lunch. See our earlier reviews for a more detailed description, but there’s plenty of space, despite its clear popularity for as a place to work over a cup of coffee. Based on this visit it looks like that they operate a fairly relaxed policy on how long they tolerate the time spent over a single coffee.

There’s no doubt that it did suit our purpose on this occasion. There’s plenty of room when we went around 1:00 pm; not too noisy, there’s a reasonable choice of popular dishes focussing on pizzas and pasta; and there’s no attempt to rush you out the door. We weren’t in a hurry, so the relaxed service we’ve found on previous visits was not a problem.

We both went for pasta, choosing the truffle tagliatelle (Gorgonzola, walnuts, mushrooms, truffle oil, pink peppercorns, salsa di noci and thyme) and the spicy ragu tagliatelle (Sicilian sausage & ‘nduja ragu, ricotta and parmesan). The spicy ragu was eaten enthusiastically, down to the last scrap. The truffle, as on a previous occasion, was a bit harder going as, while it’s tasty, it’s on the dry side, so some was left.

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As it was a work meeting we avoided alcohol but enjoyed their strawberry and mint sodas, although deprecating the continued use of plastic straws.

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So, it served our purpose at a cost of £39.37, including 12.5% service. Not very expensive but more than I want to spend for a regular lunch. Nevertheless, I’m sure we will be back, as it does offer the right space and the environment that isn’t really available elsewhere in Brixton. I just find it less than it could be. And, by the way, if you do want a bacon sandwich I can recommend the reopened Cafe Max, one of the first returnees in the newly renovated arches in Brixton Station Road.

Sam’s Cafe

Sams01Address: 85 Acre Lane, Brixton, London SW2 5TN

Telephone: 020 7274 4215

Opening times:
Monday to Friday – 6.00am to 4:30 pm
Saturday – 7:00am to 3:30pm
Sunday – Closed

Some of us might remember and miss the Goya, here in Acre Lane. But now it’s one of closest things Brixton now has to what’s called a greasy spoon, with formica tables and plastic chairs. Definitely for early risers and those wanting a hearty lunch, as it opens around 6.00 am most days and closes at 4.30 pm. The menu is on the wall and is a mixture of breakfast and lunch dishes, with a focus on carbs and fat. Just right for a wicked interlude in an otherwise blameless dietary intake. There is a daily special but we missed it and instead ordered liver and bacon with chips and peas, and sausage, mash and peas.

The portions are huge and the sausage was fatty and salty as you would expect. But the liver was a bit of a let down – a bit too much like cardboard. The bacon was great, however. The mashed potato and gravy were also a hit and better than some in high end restaurants. We both left most of the peas – all we can say is that they looked like peas.

sams03sams02It was all very great value, as the bill came to only £17, including a cup of tea and a Coca Cola. Next time we go we will order a bacon sandwich – see our review here.

Beb’s Kitchen

Address: 126 Acre Ln, Brixton, London SW2 5RJ

Phone: 074 4882 8139

Google Maps Link: https://goo.gl/maps/oPTGNrnJayj

Opening hours: ring for details

This restaurant is closed in the evening and we discovered the hard way that it is closed all day Monday as well. So we iterated to a Friday lunchtime and were surprised and very pleased we made the effort. It’s a bit hidden behind the bus shelter half way along Acre Lane and is an Indian which serves Goanese food. So plenty of coconut, as well as the usual chili and coriander. We only went in for a snack but ended up with a feast. Continue reading

Knife

Address: 160 Clapham Park Road, SW4 7DE London

Telephone: 020 7627 6505

Website: https://kniferestaurant.co.uk/

Opening hours:
Wednesday to Saturday: 6:00pm – 10:00pm
Sunday: 12 noon – 4:30pm

We were unsure about this restaurant, mainly because we didn’t like the name – sounded creepy. But we overcame our fears and headed out early on Friday night. But not early enough, as the place was already very full even by 7.00pm. So booking at the end of the week is essential. They describe themselves as offering “Serious Steaks & Sunday Roasts” and their USP is serving ethically sourced meat. They do have a veggie option, but I wouldn’t advise it as there would still be bloody corpses on adjoining tables. It’s small and intimate (read closely packed) and dark – hence the quality of the photos. Continue reading

A short bus ride away – Zumbura

Address: 36a Old Town, Clapham, London SW4 0LB

Website: http://zumbura.com/

Phone: 0207 720 7902

Opening times:
Sunday to Wednesday  –  6:00-10:00pm
Thursday to Saturday  – 6:00-10:30pm

This is a highly recommended, well staffed Indian restaurant in Clapham which is an offshoot of Mum’s Kitchen. It is a small restaurant that is popular with bar and table service – book at busy times. Tables are small and for two or four, with a couple that can accommodate a larger group.

They claim to offer “light, fresh and healthy meals”, with no butter or cream, so there are several dishes described as vegan. The menu is split into small plates (pakora, chaat, samosa and masala calamari), braised and stewed dishes (curry, dopiaza, masala, muttar – all with meat or fish), grills, vegetables (bindi, daal, aubergine etc cooked in interesting ways) and bread and rice.

Brightly coloured and delightful pickles and mild tomato dip arrive on the table with some assorted poppadoms to start us off while considering the menu.zumbura06We chose Railway Lamb curry, which had lamb that was really well cooked and layers of flavour in the sauce. Ghuggni chickpeas (black chickpeas braised in onion and mango powder), which was not as spiced or flavoursome as we hoped, compared to the khatte baigan-aubergine (baby aubergines spiced with tamarind and cumin), which was a definite hit. Both these small plates were vegan dishes. Then we ordered the chicken biryani (braised basmati rice cooked with chicken morsels in aromatic spices and rose water). This was a disappointment – the chicken was dry and the rose flavour a bit overpowering. To finish off the main dishes we had a chapatti which lived up to its description of wholemeal unleavened bread by being pretty heavy.

To finish we ordered a p[istachio kulfi which comes on a stick and a gajjar ka halwa. The kulfi was great, the warm halwa an interesting very sweet dish that tasted of very little.

So the whole meal was a good experience. A short menu, interesting sounding sets of ingredients, but it fell a little below our expectations. We will certainly return, but we will try a few other places before returning. The bill was £59.06 including service with one strawberry cocktail and an alcoholic lime soda (at £7.00).

Serendip Supper Club by Pol Boy

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address: c/o Brixton Pound Cafe, 77 Atlantic Road, SW9 8PU

website: https://polboy.co.uk/

email: thuli@polboy.co.uk

This was a Saturday night pop-up that took place at the Brixton Pound Cafe. Following a tip-off on Instagram, we booked on-line through the eatwith.com website, not really knowing what to expect.  What we got was food that’s described as being from Sri Lanka to the streets of London and is aimed being representative of all the different people who call Sri Lanka a home. It’s the brainchild of Thuli, who describes himself as a British-Sri Lankan. Continue reading

Salon

address:   – 18 Market Row, Brixton, SW98LD
telephone: 020 7501 9152
email:  info@salonbrixton.co.uk
website: http://salonbrixton.co.uk/
Opening times:
Monday                         Closed
Tuesday to Friday       noon–3pm, 6–11:30pm
Saturday                       10am–3pm, 6–11:30pm
Sunday                          10am–3pm

Salon won our eatinbrixton annual poll a few years ago and many of our foodie friends really rate it. Since the last lunch we ate here they have made changes. Gone are the uncomfortable chairs and the huge tables. Now there is a mixture of matching chairs and an upholstered bench which even had some back support – bliss compared to the previous rocky furniture.

We made up a foursome with friends. Upstairs in the main dining room they offer four course tasting menu, with only a choice of main course (baked celeriac or ox cheek). We also went for the wine pairing, so that took away even more of the worry and negotiation on what bottle(s) to buy. Continue reading