Ultimate vegan rumble showcases knockout street food: Kerb, London N1



Eight of London’s best vegan dishes faced off in a street food showdown – and a Venezuelan chip butty knocked out opponents to claim top prize.

The Living on the Veg munch-off, organised by street food impresario Kerb, took place under West Handyside Canopy in King’s Cross. For under 30 quid, ticket holders could sample the eight traders’ signature dishes, quaff a drink, then vote for the winner.

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What are the best pubs in Crystal Palace?

The three sides of the Crystal Palace triangle may only stretch to half a mile and seven pubs, so it’s one of the least onerous pub crawls in London, but there’s a villagey cosiness up at the top of the hill that makes you want to settle in for the weekend and tie one on. Like its Bermuda equivalent, it’s easy to lose contact with the outside world in this hilltop drinking haven. Also, after scaling that bloody hill from Crystal Palace station, you’ll need at least seven pints to slake your thirst.

The Grape and Grain


It’s all about the grain rather than the grape at this grand old hilltop Crystal Palace stalwart, LocAle-accredited and a Camra South London pub of the year in 2011.

It’s a great barn of a pub shielded by a thick hedge, hiding a kind of ramshackle Tudor drinking hall. At lunchtime, it’s quiet and musty with music played sporadically and at different volumes, as if the few punters in there are being subjected to CIA interrogation techniques. Three higgledy-piggledy rooms of wildly differing ceiling heights have been knocked through to make an extended hall you could easily play a game of tennis in. It has an easy-come easy-go farmhouse or travellers’ inn feel too, perhaps from its position at the top of the hill. Continue Reading

Elephant and Castle and Charlie Chaplin pubs, SE1: Review

The Elephant and Castle

The Elephant and Castle pub is arguably the most famous pub in London – the pub that gave its name to a tube station, a notorious roundabout, indeed the entire area.

photo-28-10-2016-17-32-07Open in one form or another since 1765, it closed down last year after a drinker was stabbed in the eye with a pen – those sudoku drive you mad, don’t they? It was always a bit of a lairy pub, with a chatty, drunken crowd, and its cheap Thai food, lager and outdoor pool tables gave it the air of a budget South East Asian holiday resort with shit weather.

A concrete council estate pillbox with a tower block on top, exposed to the filth and fumes of the roundabout and loomed over by Metro Central Heights, you couldn’t miss it, but in recent years it was looking quiet and tired. And now Antic Pubs has dragged the elephant back to its feet, breathing a bit of council estate pub whimsy into the old beast.

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Ales by Mail: First class craft beer in the post

I wrote a guest post for littlevbigv.com on vegetarian/vegan-friendly beers that can be delivered to your door.

Read the review and have a chance to win a case of booze

Borough back-street pubs: South London’s finest

Borough market attracts stampedes of tourists, and plenty of great pubs cater for them. Avoid the fudge-eating, double-buggy pushing, half-a-lager-ordering hordes at these classic Borough boozers off the beaten track

photo-06-10-2016-17-41-51The Rake

Size doesn’t matter, I’m reliably informed. It certainly doesn’t harm one of the tiniest pubs in London, which sits in one of its greatest locations – in the shadow of the Shard and Southwark Cathedral, at the corner of Borough market.

Occupying an admittedly slender piece of prime London real estate, it’s not rammed with tourists, unlike headline-grabbing destinations such as the Market Porter or the Wheatsheaf: squeezed between warehouses and office blocks, this bijou beer-mongers takes a smidgen of seeking out. The bar is tiny and bare, a stripped back pen with walls covered in graffiti – it’s like drinking in a Peckham high-rise lift. Continue Reading

Review: The Beefeater Gin Distillery tour, Kennington

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Beefeater sells 35 million bottles of gin annually. Incredibly, it’s all produced here at the Beefeater gin distillery in south London – by just four people.

In fact, more people work in the visitor centre here than produce the gin. But these aren’t machine operators pumping out widgets at the push of a button – they are long-standing master distiller Desmond Payne and his three distillers. They make the world’s most popular gin by hand, in copper stills located in a surprisingly small and distinctly lo-tech building down a Victorian street in Kennington, beneath the skeletal Oval gasholder. Continue Reading

Sips of the best: Six pubs to catch a drink at near Clapham Junction

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More people change trains at Clapham Junction than at any other station in the UK. But there are even better connections for beer at these big-hitting Battersea pubs, all within ten minutes’ walk of the station

The Falcon

The failsafe choice for a drink when a Londoner is marooned at Clapham Junction, but none the worse for that. The bar that snakes around this pub is, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the longest in the UK, and on a Friday night I’ve certainly made my own world record attempt at being the man waiting longest to be served. The Slug and Lettuce is nearer to the station exit on St John’s Hill, but don’t fall for it.

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London Vegan Beer Fest: Animal-free beer – at a cost

What sort of beer do vegans drink?

Well, for the most part vegans drink exactly what the rest of us drink – modern craft beer from London breweries such as Fourpure, Beavertown and Partizan. Sorry to disappoint those who thought they drank some kind of flat, pleasureless puddle water with twigs floating in it.

But at the Vegan Beer Festival in Hammersmith, they also got, the beer unpalatably warm, overpriced and only after a long frustrating spell in a queue.

Most big commercial breweries clarify their beer with fining agents such as gelatin or isinglass, which is made from fish bladders. So the younger craft breweries – with their smaller, more modern operations aimed at achieving flavour, with a more sensitive ethical outlook, and without the big business imperative to refine their beer quickly and cheaply – have happily filled the gap in the market for animal-free beer.

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Review: Dungeness Snack Shack, Kent

Cunningly secreted fish lovers’ friend in bleak but beautiful Dungeness

Photo 25-06-2016, 11 57 16Dungeness, on the very tip of the Romney Marsh in Kent, is a desolate expanse of shingle, loomed over by monstrous power stations, dotted with bleached driftwood, fishing nets and lonely cottages.

You can’t get a mobile signal, UKIP flags taunt the liberal London holidaymaker (yes, it seemed like a good idea on the weekend after the referendum delivered a ‘leave’ verdict to visit overwhelmingly Brexiteer Kent), and the only pub is a glum, kid-filled chip factory. It’s the end of the line, ninety minutes out of London, and it feels like the end of the world. But if it’s peace and quiet, glorious skies and sunsets and spanking fresh fish you’re after, you’ve struck gold.

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Review: Urban Orient, Crystal Palace SE19

All points south-east at this cheap and cheerful Vietnamese in the golden triangle of Crystal Palace

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High above the sprawling city, with soaring views, an enormous park – complete with bonkers Victorian dinosaur court – and a patchwork of thriving, independent coffee shops, restaurants and pubs, Crystal Palace is an authentic London village.

Thanks to laborious transport connections, its occupants have been allowed to evolve in isolation, like the animals of Madagascar. So there’s an independent book shop, a charcuterie and cheese place, a pleasing density of pubs, from the gastro variety to the Wetherspoon’s, lunatic-fringe churches, an aquarium-cum-lizard shop and a number of decent Oriental outlets on the Crystal Palace triangle. These include no-frills sushi at Edo, the always popular Thai Crystal and Urban Orient.

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