Carina Murphy grabs a millennial hot seat at Canova Hall
Much as I love to eat and drink, these days, I’m definitely (two kids and a lively going out history later) a restaurant rather than a bar person. So it’s testament to the lure of this new “bar” from Albion and East – the guys behind Martello Hall in Hackney – that I’ve already been back twice.
Situated in the old workers’ hall opposite Bon Marché (Britain’s first purpose built apartment store) on the increasingly hip stretch of road down the side of TK Maxx, the cavernous space works well for its all-encompassing modern all-day concept.
Strongly influenced by the building’s history, it’s become a bit of a cliché but utilitarian chic has been harnessed to good effect here. The peeling walls, retro green floor tiles and faded art deco glamour work well from early doors (8am) to closing time (1am at the weekend, and no, I wasn’t there, honest).
Booths with hospital bed curtains provide intimacy when the lights go down, but for the endless brigade of weekday remote laptop workers, they’re great for offering some privacy. Each has its own plug socket and lamp so the facilities are decidedly less Edwardian than the décor.
Hot-desking even has its own (great) value pricing structure – a tenner gets you bottomless free (and very good) coffee or fresh mint tea alongside your Wi-Fi for a day while £20 gives you all this for a week, £40 for a month.
The breakfast menu has generous, bordering on the greedy, portions of avocado, roast tomatoes, feta, chilli, lemons and pistachios on toast and silver dollar pancakes, maple syrup and crispy pancetta crumb.
The music is like Radio 6 on a good day (and I mean this as a compliment) while evenings and weekend are a bit hipper featuring DJs and live bands.
The all day/evening menu was equally spot on, if possibly a little knowingly on trend. But there’s no arguing with the cooking. Particularly good, from the sharing section, were crispy fried aubergines, stracciatella, lemon and mint, spicy nduja sausage roll, pickled chilli and hot mustard and moreish pecorino and mint croquettes.
48-hour fermented sourdough pizzas come out of the focal point wood-fired pizza oven along the back of the room and both the rock star margherita and almost worthy but not quite green goddess (pistachio pesto, broccoli, roast squash, beetroot, sunflower seeds and gorgonzola) are master classes in thin, blistered glory. Pastas made in house are simple but tasty.
Saving the best for last, they’ve taken their alcohol seriously here so customers can have fun with it.
The in-house gin distillery supplies an inventive cocktail list, although you can also opt for a cocktail trolley with all the ingredients to mix your own or use the book a bartender service to do it for you. Beer and wine drinkers are equally spoilt with house options on tap.
Judging by the number of playground parents who’ve accosted me to tell me I must check out Canova Hall, I’m clearly not the only mum on the block to rediscover bar life for the way we live now.
And the local millennials don’t even seem to mind sharing their new stomping ground.
250 Ferndale Road, SW9 8BQ | canovahall.com | 020 7733 8356 | @canovahall