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Monday 12 May 2014

Italo Deli - Craft Beer Co WC1 - Graphic Bar

A quick round up of a few bits and bobs from the last couple of days:

Friday May 9th - Bonnington Square is one of Vauxhall's best kept secrets, a peaceful retreat tucked away just a minute's walk from the station.  Amongst an impressive array of plantlife, you will find Bonnington Café (a charming vegetarian restaurant) and Italo Deli.

Bonnington Café is fairly well known for its rotating chefs (who you must email to secure a booking) and affordable prices (3 courses for £14, BYOB), but Italo Deli deserves attention too.  

I stopped off here for lunch, and found myself surrounded by several familiar products from my Saturday jaunts around Bermondsey.  Coleman Coffee, La Grotta Ice Cream and Kernel Beers sat amongst artisan cheeses & meats, fresh pasta, fruit & veg, pastries & Rococo chocolates.  I took a seat with a Coleman flat white, before filling up with a bowl of Conchiglie with Pork Belly & Creamed Peas.  There were several tempting lunch offerings including Asparagus Soup with Buttered Hazelnuts & Creme Fraiche and the mysterious Salad of beautiful things.

I had such a lovely time chatting away to locals that I found myself returning after work for an al fresco beer with colleagues.  It stays open til 7.30 on weekdays (2pm on weekends) so it is not intending to be a bar, but its a great spot for a couple of drinks.  The beers were sold at retail prices so Kernel bottles were a steal at £2.30.  They have just opened up a large pavement outside so it will really come into its own in the summer months.  Go and check it out next week when they are having a street party!

Vauxhall is very much on the up with railway arches providing the best spaces once again (much like Paradise Row in Bethnal Green).  Dirty Burger arrived a few months ago, Vauxhall have been running a pop-up cinema, and a new VauxWall climbing centre just opened.  In a couple of weeks time Dram & Smoke are rocking up with a Scottish pop-up restaurant in a Vauxhall steelyard, promising scran, bevvy and general flumgummerie - launching 23rd May, book tickets here.

Dram & Smoke Scottish Pop-Up Restaurant coming soon
After a couple of Kernels at Italo Deli, I made my way over to the new Craft Beer Co in Covent Garden, their 5th London site after Clerkenwell, Islington, Brixton and Clapham.  No need to go into great detail - it does what it says on the tin, only this time there are a whopping 45 taps! Alongside the beers is a superb spirits selection and the reliabley tasty Forty Burgers - don't leave without dipping some Bacon Dust chips into a pile of Bloody Mary Ketchup.

It was totally rammed, no surprise given its location.  There are a few tables tucked away downstairs which most punters won't notice though.  It's just down the road from the Cross Keys, one of the two Brodie's Beers pubs in Central London.  We ended up at the other, The Old Coffee House in Soho, after a failed attempt to try out the new Soho Grind espresso & cocktail bar (sister to Shoreditch Grind) which isn't quite ready to open in the evenings yet.  It should be open soon though, with their own coffee blend and a little speakeasy bar tucked behind a sliding door.

I was back in Soho again the next day for some drinks at Graphic Bar, well known for its extensive gin selection and cocktails in paint pots!  I intended to drop into Churchill's Port House pop-up for dinner beforehand but had a rare case of exhaustion and sent along some friends to check it out instead.

Tasty tapas is matched with Churchill ports over 3 floors in Greek Street.  The Salmon Tartare with Avocado and Crusted port in particular got a big thumbs up, as did the atmosphere & service.  I think I might need to go along myself soon...

Anyway, I made it in to Graphic Bar for a couple of drinks. It's a good looking bar with rotating urban art covering the walls. I have popped in during the day when it is nice and relaxed, but it was in full on bar club mode when I arrived - not ideal! That said, they were turning out some impressive drinks to big crowds - a bitter sweet Hanky Panky was particularly delicious, and there was some fun OTT Tiki bartending with smoking skulls and blowtorches.  If you are going for the gin, you might want to head to Juniper Club that takes place every Monday at 7pm.

Finally, as a Battersea local, I'm excited about the Fabulous Feast, starting this week on St. John's Hill:

Monday 12 May to Sunday 18 May 2013
St John’s Hill, Battersea 

What? A week long celebration of food & drink featuring exclusive menus for £15 and a food festival event 
When? Monday 12 May to Sunday 18 May 2013 - main event on Saturday 17th May
Who? The Traders Association of St John’s Hill, with support from the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership
Where? The bars, restaurants, pubs, cafes & eateries on St John’s Hill in Battersea 
Why? To invite people to enjoy the fantastic collection of eateries which line this popular South London street.

Back by popular demand the third annual Fabulous Feast on St John’s Hill. Reports from diners and traders were so positive, that they are pleased to announce the Hill will be hosting a third feast this year. Since last May, a selection of new food & drink venues have opened their doors on the street, so this year’s event promises to be bigger and even more diverse than the last. This event will take place from 12th until the 18th May 2013, with the big Food Festival event taking place on Saturday 17th. 

In the spirit of collaboration, the traders of the Hill have invited all quality food & drink producers to take part in this year’s event. They may not have local farms, but the brighter borough is full of fantastic food & drink producers and this will be an event that will showcase the delicious offerings from near and far.

This event will also feature the 2nd annual Great Battersea Bake Off. Bring your best baked delights to the Hill on Saturday 17 where award winning master patissier and international baker Eric Lanlard, owner of local cafe Cake Boy, will be judging this year’s winner. This tasty competition will be split into two categories: one for children and one for adults. Enter the children’s category and face this year’s challenge to bake something which celebrates the English strawberry! For the adult category, you must whip up your best Victoria sponge. We were overwhelmed with the amount of entrants last year so have your baking mitts at the ready! 

During the week long “feast”, each participating venue will offer an exclusive £15 menu to its diners. The eateries and drinking spots which line the Hill will use this as their opportunity to showcase their specialities. Each venue will offer something different for £15. A list of these offers will be published on the street website: These special menus proved extremely popular with diners and restaurants reported that they welcomed many new customers during that special week. 

On the Saturday, visitors will find the Hill filled with live food & drink events such as cookery demos, interactive classes and tutored tastings. There will also be a wonderful array of quality visiting food & drink stalls, including a selection of London’s well-known street food sellers. Learn to cook the perfect steak, mix a great cocktail and get hands-on with filleting fish alongside the experts from each venue kitchen.  This is the day for discerning eaters and keen cooks to enjoy the special events at the host venues on the Hill and to browse, taste and shop at the wonderful selection of top quality food stalls which will crowd the pavements from 11am til 5pm. 

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