Garratt lane offers a surprisingly wide choice of destinations these days for the bruncher to be. From Carluccio’s to Mel’s via the Double Bubble and Belle Amis there is something for everyone and Wandsworth’s most famous street is becoming something of a brunch Mecca.
Ben’s Canteen, Earlsfield, has been open a couple of years now. It’s a very pleasant spot located about 200 yards from the station and across the road from the aforementioned Mel’s. For many years it was a successful wine bar by the name of Willie Gunns. This went into rather a sad decline during its later period, but reputedly had such a loyal following, some of the regulars had to be removed by water cannon when the doors finally closed.
The Ultimate Rugby Fan (URF) and me, had been invited to try their Brazilian brunch, the latest in their special summer brunch menus and timed to coincide with the Rio Olympics. Never one to turn down a free brunch I immediately agreed.
Ben’s, Earlsfield is divided into two sections, a smaller bar area in front and a larger dining room towards the rear. The dining room is a nice spot to sit, surprisingly light and decorated in pale summery colours, it’s reminiscent of a casual beach and though it’s far closer to the Wandle than the sea, you can almost smell of salty tang in the air. It’s great space for both couples and groups.
Well enough of humming the scenery, what of the food. We were given a selection from the special brunch menu. First of all we sampled some papaya granola, served with Greek yoghurt. This was full of crunch and extremely fresh fruit, I liked it even though I’m usually averse to paying for anything that isn’t actually cooked for breakfast.
Next we had the Pincaha steak and eggs. Steak and eggs is a breakfast classic, and if you think about it actually probably better for you than bacon or sausages. The steak was well seasoned and served with truly delightful tasting eggs and chimichurri, I liked that a lot.
The last course was a Brazilian take on heuvos rancheros, which thinking about it is probably Spanish for rancher’s eggs, but what do I know, it might mean flambéed velociraptor for all my skills in foreign languages. This was good again, it helps that I like both cheese and avocado as these with conspicuous by their presence.
Both URF and me, had the steak and eggs as our stand out dish, and I for one would happily eat it regularly even when the Olympics weren’t on. Actually I’d happily eat all of it, but one dish does have to stand out.
Of course you don’t have to have the specials and Ben’s has a good selection of other brunch alternatives, though many of them very idiosyncratic. There’s burritos, pulled pork, pancakes and sweet corn and courgette fritters as well as more traditional brunch and breakfast fare.
The prices are middling with main brunches going from about £8 – £13, and with the quality of the cooking it’s deservedly popular, easily packed most weekend mornings. One thing I would say though is there’s a distinct lack of fishy alternate for breakfast, not even a sniff of the otherwise ubiquitous smoked salmon. Come on, everyone likes a bit of oakey smokey and eggs, especially with sourdough toast.
I hadn’t been to Ben’s for a while, and coming back made me feel like I was missing out. Next time it won’t be so long between visits.