What? Canova Hall has come to Brixton, turning what was once Le Bon Marche, Britiain’s first department store, into a new venue, whilst managing to keep the timeless feel of an old market canteen.
New? …ish. It officially opened its doors on the 22nd August 2017. Three months later and it still has that new and excited buzz about it, with its happy crowds and waiters rushed off their feet.
Where? 250 Ferndale Road, Brixton, Sw9 8BQ, www.canovahall.com
On the Menu: Having imported their authentic wood oven all the way from Modena Italy, you can expect some exceptional pizzas that promise 12/10 on the flavour scale.
The Look: On walking in the first thing I noticed, besides the hum of happy Friday night revellers, was the height of the ceilings and the size of the place (large). The décor featured rustic little tables and art deco details such as the diamond prints at the top of the tall window panes, and the beaded lampshades at the end of our table. Bare beams and ambient light, with a mixture of communal benches and private tables, the place really feeds into the warm and welcoming feel of an old market canteen.
What we ate: I’m not going to lie, I did struggle a little but only because it all looked so good and I was having a hard time choosing. In the end my friend and I decided on “Smoked Scarmoza and Pancetta Crochettas with Rocket Pesto”. As well as the “Njuda Frittatina with Salsa Verde”, to start.
The Crochettas came as four generously sized balls and were filled with a deliciously cheesy mashed potato. I did look for the smoked pancetta, and on close inspection I did find some, but it wasn’t a noticeable flavour. Which is a slight shame, as who doesn’t love pancetta? The pesto dip was a nice addition as it helped balance the density of the mash.
We ordered the “Njuda Frittatina”, because frankly I was fascinated by the idea of nibbling on a deep fried pasta cube. I know, I’ll say that again just in case you didn’t quite believe me. Cubes of squiggely pasta, coated in Njuda and deep fried in bread crumbs. I was excited. Then I took a bite, and it was as if my brain could not compute. The deliciously crisp outer casing gave way to a very soft pasta centre. The taste itself was fine, but it was the textures that had my friend and I unconvinced. It neither disgusted nor thrilled either of us, and on reflection we were glad we got to experience the little cubic phenomena but would not canter back to order it again.
The Crochettas on the other hand were a success. I was impressed and, particularly appreciative of the sizing of these sharing plates, probably because I’m a greedy piglet, but with two of each dish we were well on our way to feeling satisfied.
For the mains we had heard great things about the pizzas. I ordered the “London Field” – a tomato based meat ball concoction, whilst my friend ordered the “Smokey Bandit”, pancetta, truffle taleggio, lemon and sage wonder. Both utterly delicious, thin bases with doughy crusts, and flavours that packed a punch and made you tastes buds salivate for more.
By this time, I was full, but that never stops me, don’t you worry. Not when there are doughnuts on the menu. They come as a shared dish in various sizes. We opted for the smallest one, which was by no means measly. Arriving in a little paper bag with two ramekins one of Nutella and the other jam. Oh my, is that heaven calling? Out of the bag tumbled seven crystal coated orbs of fresh squidgy dough. Get in my belly, I could wax lyrical about these sugary delights for days.
What we drank: Tap water…just kidding. Canova Hall has an extensive drinks menu, and there were plenty of great sounding cocktails. Being a fan of gin, I tried the “Cucumber and Elderflower Collins”. Sadly, it tasted like they had forgotten the gin and got over excited with the cucumber instead. The “Canova Bramble” however, which comprised of Canova gin, Chambord, cherry bitters, fresh lemon juice and maraschino cherry extract, was awesome. The sweetness of the cherries juxtaposed with the bitter strength of the gin made for a perfectly balanced cocktail.
Go With: If you’re looking for a lively spot, with toe tapping tunes, a place where everyone around you is on the same happy buzz, then this is the place. Though the drink service is slower than one might like the vibe of the place is so ‘feel good’ you’ll be too busy catching up and having a good time to notice.
Final word: Would 100% go again. There were so many quirky details that made this place a pleasure to visit. Such as the loos, even they looked cool, once you worked out how to use the push peddle system. The food was delicious, but be under no illusion the bill could soon rack up. Finally a special thanks must go out to our waiter Thomas, a total gem, and downright hilarious, the cherry on top of a fabulous evening. Thank you Canova Hall!
Canova Hall: 250 Ferndale Road, Brixton, Sw9 8BQ