Take a pub. Mix the concept with a dinner’s. Add a few cocktails to the menu. That’s Ben’s Canteen. A beautifully sunlit room in Battersea, a mere 5 minutes from Clapham Junction train station, with a relaxed atmosphere, a neon heart on the wall, wooden furniture with a purposefully, poetic distressed paint effect. You find your place immediately – you know, the place you’d like to seat every time you come here. You’re already picturing it as your local, even if you don’t live in the area.
And so you start with a cocktail – they have a nice selection of G&Ts. Citadelle gin, gin Mare, Opihr… served with fever tree and each with a different garnish. Yes, gin and tonic, the way it should be! It seemed a justification enough for starters, although we did not expect the portions to be so generous. We’re talking super tasty Pulled Pork Nachos with creamy guacamole, spicy jalapeno ad roasted tomatoes, perfect for sharing… or even Ben’s Epic Scotch Egg, with high quality meat, a light outside crunch and superb, rich, golden yolk. And a touch of mustard that bring everything together.
But really, we had come to try Ben’s Canteen famous burgers, piles high and kept together by a steak knife, planted like a dagger. The Posh Fried Chicken came highly recommended and was so very well balanced – juicy meat, light batter, just the right amount of slaw, bacon to make it moreish. I went for the full extravaganza: the Christmas burger! It’s impressive: sage and shallot, buttermilk turkey breast, squashed stuffing ball, slow roasted honey and mustard ham hock, brie, cranberry sauce, buttered Brussel sprout and garlic mayo. The proper reaction to this is O.M.G. It’s impossible to bite into it, you have to deconstruct it, making different associations as you devour it. The meat with the slightly melted cheese. The stuffing with a touch of mustard and cranberry sauce, which go surprisingly well together. It’s decadent. It’s so much better than a boring “traditional Christmas lunch” served on a plate. It’s messy. But it’s SO satisfying. I dare you to finish it if you’ve indulged in a starter beforehand!
I couldn’t. I let my unfinished plate go with a sense of guilt. Well, not that much guilt… My appetite suddenly reappeared at the mention of the toffee apple milkshake. Looks plain simple, but it has that buttery Tatin taste and this whole milk super creamy texture. That’s exactly when you start wondering whether you should stay until dinner to try the rest of the menu!