At the gathering this weekend Marrers insisted I post about my experience with the Bonnington Café. I was going there that night as I am so totally popular I had two social engagements in one day.
The Bonnington Café is a small place near Vauxhall and Oval – walking distance from my house – with the novelty that there's a different chef each night. Their website lists email addresses and mobile numbers for their chefs. I phoned to reserve a table on the day. This was awkward; most restaurant reservations do not begin with "Erm, I got your phone number from the web – I understand you're cooking tonight?" But the lady at the other end (Anya) was cooking, and not the victim of an elaborate practical joke. The table was reserved.
I met my friend on the north end of Vauxhall bridge and we walked from there. It's a 5 minute walk from Vauxhall tube, or maybe an 8 minute walk from Oval. The interior reminded me of a public school's art department – single glazed windows in rickety wooden frames, an eclectic range of wooden furniture, a variety of photos and pictures on the wall. There's no background music and there were only a few people there, making it a poor choice if you wanted to discuss the results from the GUM clinic. The menu choices were limited – one starter, two main courses, two desserts – but I imagine this varies depending on the chef (and don't forget the menu will differ daily). Prices are flat-rate: £3 for a starter, £7 for a main course, £3 for a dessert. Neither of us ordered a drink so I don't know how reasonable they are.
My starter was a generous bowl of lentil & sweet potato soup. It was served with a bowl of french bread. It was creamy and tasty, and not too hot. I hate it when soup scalds my tongue. My friend and I ordered different main courses and split them. We had a raw 'pizza' and a vegetable stew. Both came with two varieties of side salad. The raw pizza was pizzaesque; the stew was unexciting but pleasant. In other words: the food didn't excite me, but it didn't disappoint me either. The stew was the kind of thing I would imagine making at home, if I could be bothered to do side salads. The raw pizza was more of a novelty. The base was crunchy, the cheesy sauce was nice, the vegetable toppings fresh. For dessert I had a raw banana pecan pie, and my friend got a fruit crumble. We split them again; the pecan pie was sweet but not insipid, with a weird moussey texture I've found common with raw food. The crumble was great – delicious, fruity, with cinnamon. I am a sucker for good crumble.
In summary: it's definitely worth a visit, and I'll be going back. It's the kind of place you visit for the overall experience – each meal is a one-off. The food's not going to knock your socks off, but it's reasonably priced, unfussy, and tastes good. If I ever try to seduce an art student, I'm taking her there.