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Bens Canteen has fast become a Sunday brunch staple of my and seemingly the rest of Battersea’s weekend. Walking up Plough Lane from my flat each week I can barely contain my excitement for what awaits. Such is the popularity of the restaurant that your experience often begins with a short wait at the long shabby chic bar perched on a metal stool. Accompanying you are crates of fresh fruits, plates of freshly baked pastries and breads, and other hungry customers. Time it right and your wait will not be too long, time it even better and you have the chance of rubbing shoulders with Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef extraordinaire and owner of new Battersea hotspot The London House.
Whilst you wait at the bar sipping a rich warm latte from a small glass you will not fail to notice the bustle around you. Glasses chink as the waiters make coffee after coffee from the impressive espresso machine. Conversation rumbles accompanied by the scrape of cutlery. Around you the bare walls, uncovered lightbulbs and mismatched furniture feels modern and metropolitan, a restaurant which would not look out-of-place on the streets of Brooklyn.
Bens Canteen focuses their efforts on brunch, taking advantage of the burgeoning trend of young Londoners to skip breakfast and lunch on a Sunday in favour of a meal in between. The menu has all the staples, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, bacon, full english, Eggs Benedict, the list goes on and on including some Bens originals such as the Eggs Pig Out, an Eggs Benedict with pulled pork replacing the ham. On the side you can commit a multitude of sins. Choose more bacon, smashed avocado, more eggs, or delicious homemade hash browns always crunchy on the outside and deliciously soft inside. My personal favourite is the classic Eggs Royale, poached eggs, smoked salmon, an english muffin all topped with fresh hollandaise sauce, accompanied with smashed avocado and hash browns. A brunch fit for a king, or a hangover. In all the time that I have been going I have never had an overcooked egg, the bright orange yolk oozes out with the first cut of the knife melding with the hollandaise to create a rich sticky sauce unlike anything you have experienced before. The delicate flavours allow the smokey salmon to really shine taking the edge off the dish. Smashed avocado serves its purpose as a wonderful palate cleanser between each mouthful, mixed with a little salt and lemon juice it really stands out beneath the decadent flavours of the main meal.
You will not come away from Bens Canteen unsatisfied. Their menu is not small, but also not so big that it is unmanageable. Every dish coming from the kitchen has a sense of home cooking about it, hearty not too refined. Having been here for both breakfast and dinner I would recommend sampling both. Their BC burger once held a coveted position on the TIme Out top 10 burgers in London, an enviable achievement, while the number of Gin and Tonic’s on offer cannot help but tempt even the strongest of wills.
Is Bens Canteen the perfect restaurant? No. The service can be a little slow requiring you to keep a careful eye out for your waiter if you need anything, and of course the wait for a table on the weekend can be infuriating when your stomach has already had to forgo its morning meal. When Gordon Ramsay does turn up the atmosphere does change and you get the impression that the preparation of your meal may suffer, but that is to be expected. Bens Canteen is well worth a try as a local brunch place and diner. Does it command you to come from miles around to sample its food? No. But then again that is not their purpose. At their best they deliver delicious, fresh, warming food in a bustling atmosphere. Just what you need on an easy Sunday morning.