I have been a regular visitor to Ben’s Canteen whilst previously living in Wandsworth; we accidentally discovered this place during a walk around the neighbourhood when we first moved into the area! The endless queues outside the Clapham branch was enough of a giveaway as to the popularity of this place. Once I tried their weekend brunch, I was hooked; come rain or sunshine, my Saturday mornings were forever committed to queuing outside this place. BC’s burgers, loaded fries and Bottomless Brunches are epic and need no introduction, especially if you live in South West London.
When I heard they have introduced steaks to their dinner menu , it was music to my ears. When Ben contacted me to see if I would be interested to try them out, my reaction was HELL YEAH! For a change, we decided to try out the Earlsfield branch.
We were there on a late Saturday afternoon and the restaurant was cacophonous with the happy chatter and revelry of locals enjoying their very popular bottomless brunch. There was definitely a boozy buzz in the air.
We kicked things off with some cocktails. I had the Lavender Fizz (Bison Grass Vodka, Lemon Juice, Apple Juice, Lavender and Sugar), while Kris opted for the BC Old Fashioned (Glenfiddich IPA, Drambuie, Liquer 43, Disaronno Amaretto & Angostura Bitters).
We kicked things off with a sample of their starters and small plates. For £15 you can get any three, which is a great way to try different dishes if you can’t make up your mind.
The Beer Battered Fish Tacos, Pickled Cabbage, Avocado Créme, Coriander were some of the most beautifully plated tacos I have seen. The fish was soft and meaty and the underlying pickled veg added a vibrant colour and sharpness to the plate. The avocado creme was revelatory. Kris thought the dish could have done with a bit more zing, but I personally was pretty pleased with the taste.
The Dusted Kung Pao Calamari, Pickled Ginger, Cashew Nut, Sesame was a fusion-tastic dish of Chinese and Thai influences. It had some really fresh and fragrant herbs, a thwack of spice topped with some cashew nuts for a nutty crunch.
The Halloumi Fries are a must order here. I have tried them before and they are epic, although on this occasion I felt they were slightly overcooked. If you like fried cheese, this is pretty much your kind of dish. I also loved the little delicate diced vegetables at the bottom (red onions, pomegranate, cucumber) finished with a deliciously sharp chutney – so good!
On to the main event: Kris opted for something different and picked the vegan-friendly Bhaji Burger – Potato & Onion Bhaji, Curry Ketchup, Vegan Raita, Baby Spinach, Coriander, Crispy Sev, served in a vegan bun. I only got a small bite of it as Kris doesn’t share. 🙂 To be honest, I don’t blame him as it was pretty good. The patty was tasty and the raita added a lovely dimension to the whole ensemble.
We couldn’t have left Ben’s Canteen without ordering one of their loaded fries. The Korean Pork Belly Fries – Skin-on Fries with Spiced Pork Belly, Kimchi, Crispy Seaweed, Korean Hot Sauce and Garlic Mayo is one of my favourite assemblages. It comes main sized so it can be a meal on its own! The little pork belly bites add a lovely punch of saltiness alongside the fiery kimchi, while the crispy kale on top adds great texture and the fries underneath are spot on.
The headline act was the 250g Flat Iron Steak (21 day aged British Steak served with watercress salad and roasted tomato, although I swapped the watercress for a fresh garden salad). The quality of the meat was excellent and the dish was expertly cooked, making for an exceptional meal. At £13, it was seriously good value and top notch fare.
Ben’s Canteen has been on my radar even before my Instagram and food blogging days. It is nice to think that it has been a wonderful neighbourhood eatery from the start and their quality hasn’t diminished over the years. In fact, judging by their recent offering of steaks, it keeps getting stronger.
Location : Clapham and Earlsfield
N.B. I was a guest of Ben’s Canteen.