Positioned about half way up St. Johns Hill in Wandsworth, not far from Clapham Junction, Ben’s Canteen certainly seems the place to be if you fancy a breakfast/brunch. In fact they serve their brunch menu from 9 – 5, 7 days a week. We popped down at about 12.30 on a Sunday afternoon and it was packed so much so we had about 15 minutes wait for a table. So we perched up at the bar, where my girlfriend had a smoothie (served in a milk bottle) and we watched the very skilled and serious barista as we waited, my flat white was fantastic.
We were slightly peeved that there was a reserved sign on the table near the window, when on the website it says that brunch is on a first come first served basis. This rule doesn’t apply to one of the world’s best chefs it appears, as to our surprise Gordon Ramsay and his family came in for a brunch. I’d be interested to see if he agrees with this review!?
So onto the important stuff: the grub. I ordered the Big Ben – sausage, bacon, beans, black pudding, mushroom, tomato, toast and two eggs done ‘your way’; I choose poached eggs. All this sets you back a round £10. My initial thoughts when it arrived were “oh the big ben isn’t all that big is it?” It was served on a fairly small plate, but it was stacked up high, and actually it was quite substantial.
The star of the show was the black pudding; it tasted very fresh and was subtly spiced with cardamon. The bacon also had a good flavour and I had three rashers loaded onto the plate. The eggs were cooked well and the sausage was good, without being outstanding.
I enjoy a breakfast where the individual items come together and are enjoyed together. However, I know some people prefer to keep certain things apart (e.g. the beans) so if you fall into that camp this might not be the fry up for you.
On an aside from the fry-up, I saw the table next to ours had ordered some hash browns and so having seen them and getting massive food envy and I had to get some myself. They were homemade and tasted great, not to mention MASSIVE!
One thing I didn’t try, but I think is worth a mention is the Bloody Mary’s served here. They certainly look like the real deal and according to their menu, it you tweet a picture of yourself at the restaurant with the #benscanteen, they will give you one for free!
A really good fry-up, with excellent black pudding in a buzzy atmosphere . To score higher I think I would need a higher quality sausage and just a bigger plate (but not any more food!).