Visit to Ben’s Canteen, Clapham and El Rancho del Lalo in Brixton Village
British seasonal produce, potted ham, rhubarb, rumped venison, spiced pear.. VS Colombian home cooking, pork, chicken stew, plantain, fragrant beef soup with cassava
Don’t laugh at the title of my post today, but I wanted to encapsulate this post in one title and the only way to do it was to put it down as my South London Chow Down in the past week!
Since its been Easter Weekend aswell its been quite a food overload of chocolate, eggs, hot cross buns and more.. but in between that I have eaten savoury food! These outings have been in the form of visiting Ben’s Canteen in Clapham and El Rancho de Lalo in Brixton Village.
Last week I visited Ben’s Canteen with my lovely food fanatics and blogger friends FeelGoodFoodBook, Mondomulia and The Writing Type. Meeting at Clapham we hurried down to St John’s Hill where we entered the relaxed, dim-lit restaurant, with a gastro pub feel to it.
We managed to get a chance to chat to the lovely Ben who took us through some background history of how the restaurant came to be and the inspiration for the seasonal British food served here.
For starters we ordered platters of nut roast with beetroot dipping sauce, all day breakfast scotch eggs. However, that was not all but also the potted ham,piccalilli with toast and nut roast fritters with dipping sauces.
The scotch eggs were delicious, exactly like an all in one brekkie for dinner! My favourite was the piccalilli so pungent and flavourful, perfect with the toasts and potted ham in the jar. The nut roasts were as stuffing in texture, crispy balls but the beetroot dipping sauce was the winner of the dish.
The Pollack was a change to Sea Bream instead for the menu, just as tender and flaky, it lay on a bed of potatoes (could have been more), scattered with cockles and a parsley liquor which in my opinion was too salty! I’m not sure it was supposed to be like that, but I could not eat the rest of the sauce chose to comfort myself with the rest of the fish instead.
The venison was served with a potato fondant with chocolate and damson sauce , this faired much better, the sauce was delicately rich and floral with hidden depth from the chocolate it paired well with the meat. The potato fondant was crispy round the sides and fluffy in the middle.
The dessert was a poached pear with a hazelnut crust served with a rich chocolate ice cream. The pear had absorbed the flavours, when cut into its juices permeated out the pear fragrant with cinnamon and spices. The nut crust was the crisp texture it needed and the chocolate ice cream, heaven..
The rhubarb and ginger trifle, should of been called the rhubarb and rose trifle.. with a slightly overpowering taste of floral rosewater in the jelly with the rhubarb, it was still pleasant but slightly misleading on the menu.
The dessert list was exciting with Powerhouse Porter Cheesecake with Chilli syrup or a Rolo Tart with Spearmint Ice cream. I find the menu uplifting and exciting that they are trying to tweak and poke fun at British Classics, including seasonal ingredients and keeping it updated and fresh.
But the question is can they carry these dishes off well? I would come to Ben’s Canteen again, but hoping to be more amazed by the execution of the dishes.
Ambience – 9/10
El Rancho Del Lalo – Brixton Village
I had passed this restaurant before but had not tried the food, it’s always bustling with people inside its small space, it looks more like a family get together. With the area’s recent explosion in smart modern eateries, its simple approach to Colombian food still seems to be really popular. The restaurant is located on the Coldharbour Lane side of Brixton Village, its exterior still stands out, with wooden beams and a few tables outside.
We sat outside on the chequered tables, the service was friendly and we were served a traditional Colombian drink of sugar cane with lime drink, refreshing!
If I have to go back there it would be for the SOUP! However, I am inspired to try this at home!
The main was soft plantain, with rice, pork, chargrilled and accompanied by a beetroot salad. The chicken stew was accompanied by the same but cooked with a sauce (pollo sudado), the flavours were there, similar to some Mauritian uses of cilantro and tomatoes in a La Daube stew. The only BUT was the chicken was a bit cold, didn’t taste as fresh as would have liked but still delicious. I could get used to Colombian food if its like this..