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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Queenswood - Flour To The People - Ben's Canteen - Social Pantry

Every few months, enough stacks up around me in Battersea to justify a local round-up.

Let's start with Queenswood - a neighbourhood restaurant and bar from the same folk as Damson & Co., officially opening today in quaint Battersea Square.  

It's a stunning site, full of thoughtful interior design touches from Eloisa Cuturi including a playful drawing, spread over wall-mounted literature, a faux-Cocteau sketch, and numerous eye-catching lights.  

An airy coffee table destined for Royal College of Art students and their Macbooks welcomes you before you make it to a stylish cocktail bar and spacious counter for dining that The Palomar can only dream of. Two record-players lie in wait for relaxed Sunday sessions with a BYOLP system.



Let's talk cocktails. The bar is not an afterthought - in fact, it's just what Battersea Square needs.  Apart from Zocalo next door (a lively agave joint - get the Mezcal Negroni), we've not got a lot to work with (London House, Bunga Bunga, Doodle Bar).  Luckily, Queenswood's affordable £8 cocktail list includes some real winners:

Negroni - Rosemary-infused gin, Campari, Barolo Chinato, dash of Balsamic

Champ Honey - Sochu, Suze, Cocchi Torino & Cherry Heering

Hemp Old-Fashioned - Unaged Rye Spirit, Hemp Syrup, Bitters

Filbert's Treat - Monkey Shoulder, Cocchi Americano, Frangelico

Abstract Infusion - Mezcal, Fernet Branca, Creme de Apricot, Byrrh

Left : Negroni & Hemp Old Fashioned // Right : Elephant Fizz & Rocotos Pisco Sour

Queenswood Negroni - Rosemary-infused Gin, Campari, Barolo Chinato, Balsamic

Moving on to food, Queenswood have called on Parisian Aude Plocktor who has devised a menu that calls on many cuisines.  From Galician Octopus to Israeli Couscous via Squid Tempura and Thai Beef Slad, it's an odd collection of dishes!

Here's what we went for:

Octopus Nicoise - Green Beans, Saffron Boiled Potato, Cherry Tomato, Peppers, Olives Lettuce

Smoked Duck Salad - Bamboo Shoots, Green Beans, Orange & Grapefruit, Coriander, Sesame Seeds

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Ginger Pig Bavette Steak (x2) - served with Chips

Roasted Root Vegetables

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Baked Apple (x2) - Coconut Yoghurt, French Toast


The starters made a decent impression, but the glorious Ginger Pig meat stole the show.  Check the blackboard when you arrive to see how many steaks are left, and reserve a couple without hesitation.  The Baked Apple was also a real treat, beautifully presented, and much more interesting than the name suggests.  Alternative desserts of African Cacao Chocolate Souffle and Caramelised Pineapple with Mint & Ajowan Seed Syrup also deserve a go. 


Smoked Duck, Bamboo Shoots, Green Beans, Orange & Grapefruit, Coriander, Sesame Seeds

Ginger Pig Bavette Steak & Chips

Baked Apple, Coconut Yoghurt, French Toast

A Digestif : Filbert's Treat - Monkey Shoulder, Cocchi Americano, Frangelico

All in all, it was a very pleasant lunch, and Queenswood shows a lot of promise.  I'll be back again soon for more of Igor's cocktails, and to check out the weekend brunch menu.  Locals are bound to flock to it, especially in Summer when Battersea Square comes in to its own.

One of many delightful design touches from Eloisa Cuturi

Square Meal

Even closer to my flat is brand new Flour To The People, a sourdough bakery and brunch spot with evening plans in the works, located opposite my regular haunt, Park Road Kitchen.

I'm already addicted to their Olive Sourdough Loaf, which you'll want to pick up from them as soon as it comes out of the oven.


It's a small place, so a short wait for a table at weekends is likely, at which point you should go for a wander through the magical Battersea Flower Station garden centre opposite and drop in to cute La Moka Café for a pre-brunch Allpress coffee and some Kooky Bakes treats.

Battersea Flower Station

La Moka Café

Back at Flour To The People, Nude Espresso is the order of the day, brewed on a beautiful La Marzocco machine.  Next up, you'll want to get involved with Toast The People - unlimited freshly baked bread, homemade jams and their own hazelnut spread, plus an excuse to use the SEE-THROUGH TOASTERS which sit centre stage on every table.

Follow this up with Eggs Benedict-ish, so called as the perfectly poached (or however you want them) eggs sit on top of sourdough crumpets rather than the customary muffins - Note to self: start a band called The Customary Muffins.  

Alternatively, go for some Sourdough French Toast with sweet and savoury toppings, or The Slamwich - sausage, bacon, and grilled cheese omelette slammed together between slices of sourdough bread. Yes please.

Fresh bread at Flour To The People

See Through Toasters!

Eggs Benedict-ish with Sourdough Crumpets

Perfectly Poached Eggs on Sourdough Crumpets at Flour To The People

Avocados ready to be slammed

The breakfast and brunch menu runs all week, so locals may be able to skip the weekend crowds and squeeze in a visit before work.  In the near future, they hope to open in the evenings, ideally with sourdough pizzas and local beers.  I'll be first through the door when that happens.  Until then, you'll find me in the corner messing around with the aforementioned see-through toasters.

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On the other side of Clapham Junction Station from me, foodies head for Northcote Road and Battersea Rise where the likes of Brewdog, Franco Manca, Brew and Lola Rojo hold court. Those in the know will also make a slightly longer journey up St.John's Hill for Powder Keg Diplomacy, Kaosarn, Story Coffee and Birdhouse.  

Another popular hangout in this neighbourhood cluster is Ben's Canteen, and I popped in recently to sample dishes from a new food menu.  They have also just launched a premium G&T list, so I naturally started there.  

Mediterranean Gin Mare is always worth a go, and cardamom-heavy Opihr is rather interesting (if a little overpowering).  All of the Ben's Canteen G&Ts are smartly presented with a range of carefully chosen garnishes in photogenic glassware, but I find £9 a little hard to swallow for such a simple drink, especially in the suburbs.



Moving on to dinner, my eyes never made it past Ben's Epic Scotch Egg on the starters.  It's a great example of the genre - don't miss it.

For mains, we kept things meaty with 38 Day Aged Shorthorn Ribeye Steak topped with Café de Paris Butter and a magnificent Ben's Canteen Crunchy Chicken Burger with buttermilk spiced chicken, bacon and slaw. Both dishes were accompanied by enormous portions of delicious sweet potato fries, and I'm ashamed to say we struggled to eat them all.

Ben's Canteen Crunchy Chicken Burger

38 Day Aged Shorthorn Ribeye Steak with Cafe de Paris Butter

To finish, Smashed Biscuits & Honeycomb with rich honeyed yoghurt and salted pistachio went over my almond tolerance line, but it should appeal to most.  And you can't go wrong with Chocolate & Peanut Butter Brownie with peanut butter ice cream.

Smashed Biscuits & Honeycomb

Ben's Canteen is a lovely, local establishment that really rewards loyal customers and neighbours with frequent offers and loyalty clubs.  P.S There's another branch in Earlsfield if that's any closer to home!

Ben's Canteen

Square Meal

Ben's Canteen on Urbanspoon

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A couple of days after Battersea Arts Centre went up in flames (donate here), we dropped in for dinner at neighbouring café and catering company, Social Pantry, who have only just started serving food in the evenings (Wed-Sat only currently).

It's a charming little space, with room for a few small tables.  Folding chairs are efficiently stacked on the wall, with an array of cushions ready to go nearby.  When we arrived at 8pm they were doing good business, so you may want to ring ahead - 0207 924 4066



A locally brewed Belleville Commonside Pale Ale and a Social Pantry Vintage Spritz kept us company as we worked through a bunch of tasty small plates:

- Scotch Egg with peppered sausage meat

- Shredded Ham Hock & Cheddar Croquettes with Minted Pea Puree

- Homemade Cumin & Fennel Seed Flat Breads with Honey Glazed Shallots

- Slow Braised Ox Cheek with Roasted Carrot

- Sweet Potato Fries 

Everything was delectable, particularly the generous portion of Ox Cheek, and the shallow fried Sweet Potato Fries.



Before we knew it, it was time for dessert.  Head to the counter at your peril, where an enticing array of cheese and cakes awaits, including a Union Hand Roasted Coffee and Dark Valrhona Chocolate Cheese Cake.  I stuck to my guns and ordered the Pain Au Chocolat Bread and Butter Pudding with Cinnamon Ice Cream which was simply outstanding - melt in your mouth heaven in a bowl.

Pain Au Chocolat Bread & Butter Pudding w/ Cinnamon Ice Cream at Social Pantry

Go for the buzzy, friendly atmosphere.  Stay for that pudding.

That's all for now folks.  East Londoners - you can open your eyes again.

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Other things I've been eating and drinking recently:

- Roast Brixham Monkfish at The Botanist
- Everything from Park Road Kitchen
- Craft Beers at The Hop Locker 
- Smoked Cocktails (new toy)
- Lindt Bunnies


Matt The Trips - A small team is off to Paris this weekend, and I've just booked flights to LA for a two-week West Coast America road trip in August.  If you known any places that I should check out, leave a comment or send me an email at matt@mattthelist.com

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