Walking around Battersea and Clapham Junction area, you can’t help but notice the abundance of our antipodean cousins populating the area whether it is local residents or in the coffee shops and restaurants. As soon as you walk into Ben’s Canteen, you notice this isn’t a traditional English pub but a relaxed neighbourhood hangout that could quite conceivably have been transplanted from Melbourne. Our gregarious host for our Sunday brunch had a charming, friendly Australian accent.
The weather was certainly antipodean with diners taking advantage of the rare sunshine by dining on their breezy outdoor terrace. The crowd was generally young 20s-30s and happy to spend the time to catch up with friends whilst enjoying quality food and cocktails.
It’s never easy to offer critique on brunch, as it is never really about the purée used or the accompaniments to a complex dish. It is about using simple, fresh ingredients. Poached eggs and the BC Hollandaise are omnipresent on their brunch menu and in this day and age, if you can’t poach an egg properly as a restaurant, then the government should be shutting them down. Thankfully, Ben’s canteen poaches heavenly eggs, with the golden orange yolk just runny enough to sip onto their artisanal sourdough bread. Both my guest and I opted for an indulgent breakfast: he opted for the crunchy but not overly oily fried chicken and I tried one fo their monthly specials, which happened to be Spanish for the current month. It was the eggs Costa Brava that had chorizo; I am not sure if I prefer this over a traditional Cumberland sausage, but the quality of the chorizo was undeniable.
We also asked for half portions of their best sellers: the smashed avo and sweet corn and courgette fritters minus their poached eggs of course. Smashed avocado and vine tomatoes might not be the most difficult dish to present, but the texture was fantastic and the vegetables market-fresh. Sweet corn and courgette fritters with halloumi and balsamic roast tomato chutney made what on paper sounds like a very healthy dish extremely palatable.
They have an extensive mixture of both healthy and adult beverage options to please the most demanding of customers. I enjoyed an antioxidant feast from the berry smoothie which contained blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and banana. If you are a gin and tonic fan, you will be pleasantly surprised by the lengthy offering which explores different garnishes to complement the classic cocktail.
Australians have great sportsmen, perfect weather and now I realise they are experts too when it comes to bringing the style and substance to a perfect brunch experience.