Ben's Canteen / Clapham, London


“…it’s the second instance of DOUBLE BEEF we’ve encountered this year.”

South West London.

No, I don’t like it either since I am neither of Australiasian descent nor did I grow up in Surrey. However, sometimes we have to go there, crossing the length of the TFL network tolerating trains that stop at “Bookham” and “Berrylands” and other places that probably don’t actually exist.

But Clapham-gripes aside (and I could go on), we’re there to visit Ben’s Canteen.

Now Ben’s, with its stripped floor aesthetic and dog-and-pram wielding clientele feels much more like South West Goes East. It’s very relaxed and we arrive at midday on a Sunday so they have a full brunch menu as well as Roasts on the go. Things could be worse.

And so to the burger. It’s a fancypants take on a cheeseburger, and it’s the second instance of DOUBLE BEEF we’ve encountered this year (the first being the Ad Cod’s delightfully deranged Ox Cheek Chilli burger). A fine thick Angus patty sits atop tomato and lettuce, with a slice of homemade corned beef on top (not the tinned one you had at school) a violently orange secret sauce and a slice of smoked cheddar.

The genius of the double beefing on this occasion is that the cheese has melted into the corned beef. Dave the Chef preps his own corned beef by trimming and rolling a nicely aged topside of Orkney beef, brining it for 24 hours and then cooking it with stock and vegetables. Once the burgers are ready, it’s sliced and popped under the grill with the smoked cheese on top. The melted cheese warms the beef from the top, and then once it’s part of the burger, the freshly grilled patty warms it from the bottom. This gives the whole sandwich a nice consistent texture and temperature, and the bun which is considerable but soft manages to keep it all together somehow.

Ben's Burger Split

A quick Google of previous reviews of Ben’s Canteen and you’ll see the BC Burger has been under much revisioning in the few short months it’s been open. I think Dave has cracked it: different enough to stand out from the crowd, gourmet enough to please the locals and appease the price point and well constructed enough for geeks like me to walk away happy.

Looking down the length of the menu at Ben’s and you can really appreciate the wealth of choice on offer. We got to try the brisket sliders (which weren’t reeeeally sliders), the deep fried pork cheeks (totally excellent, especially the dip) as well as a few bonus hunks of their Sunday roast beef (flawlessly cooked and you really can taste its pedigree). On top of that, they do a mean eggs benny.

If there was only one flaw, it would be the comedically poor service from the French waiter. Long waits, borderline aggression and impossible to attract his attention, it was fortunate we didn’t have to be anywhere in a great hurry. We didn’t experience bad service from any of the other staff, but this guy is so bad it was almost a joke. Other folks I know have come across him too, and we’ve verified the OMG-Is-That-Guy-For-Real sentiment. So they should sort that really because he’s certainly not ‘on brand’, so to speak.

Go for the burger. Go for brunch. Go for Sunday roast. They’ve got it all.

Oh and the Scotch Egg is great.

  • Simon.
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Ben's Burger