A few weeks before Christmas, Ciaran and I visited a new local to us spot in Brixton called Canova Hall. In a nutshell, Canova Hall is an interesting concept in that it’s a jack of all trades – a cafe/workplace by day and an Italian restaurant/cocktail bar and club by night, located in what was once Le Bon Marche, Britain’s first department store.
We visited on a freezing Monday evening, both a bit tired from Christmas shopping and starving for a hearty dinner. The interiors, I thought, were a bit on the hipster side – rustic booths with hospital curtains draped across the windows, small beaded lampshades providing a warm ambiance on each table and an industrial open-plan kitchen with canteen-like seating toward the back. The restaurant is massive, with a huge wrap around bar as the focal point of the space. We took our seats at the front of the restaurant and browsed the menu.Canova Hall has a fantastic range of cocktails and a large selection of wines on tap. I went for a glass of red, whilst Ciaran ordered an Old Fashioned to warm up with.We struggled with our food order, as frankly the menu is huge and it all sounded SO good. We decided to go off the beaten path and went for the fried aubergines with creamy stracciatella, lemon and mint to start. An amazing choice, we both dove straight into the thinly sliced fried pieces of heaven drizzled with honey. The salty/sweet combo was addicting and there was a hint of spice from small chilis sprinkled throughout. The combination of flavours is quite unusual, but it worked and I’d go as far to say that it was a “lick the plate” good kinda dish. Oh, and the portion was huge – you could easily share this starter between 3, although you’d probably want to keep it all to yourself it’s so delicious.Moving on to mains, Canova Hall has an awesome wood-fired pizza menu and our love for pizza knows no bounds so we had to try one. When I was in college in Kansas, we all put honey on our pizza – the salty sweet goodness is my kryptonite so when I saw that the Samson pizza is served with hot honey I knew we had a winner on our hands. The thin-crust pizza is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, topped with salame toscana, red chilli, red and spring onions, mozzarella and drizzled with Canova hot honey and my days it was good. Most pizzas cooked in a proper stone oven are bound to be delicious and I have no doubt that all the other pizzas on the menu are equally as good as the Samson. If we were to go back, I would 100% just order a few different pizzas to share.
We also shared a plate of the Smokey Rigatoni pasta – smoked scarmoza, pistachio, salsa di noci, kale and rosemary. All of the pasta is made in-house and was cooked perfectly al dente. The Smokey Rigatoni lives up to its name and you can definitely taste the smokiness throughout, however, the flavours felt a bit muted in comparison with the pizza. It lacked saltiness and needed a bit more seasoning, but overall it was a nice pasta dish.By this point, we were both heaving from carb overload but for the sake of the blog, we carried on and decided to order Canova Hall’s legendary bag of Bamboloni with nutella to share. My oh my, this is a decadent dessert not for the faint hearted. Fried doughnut goodness smothered in sugar dipped in Nutella – what could be better than that? If you have a sweet tooth, I would definitely recommend sharing some of these heavenly doughnuts.
My final thoughts: I really liked Canova Hall and would likely go back for pizzas or starters with friends. The portions are huge, the prices are great for London and it’s a cool space with a nice vibe. If I worked from home, I would definitely go there during the day to get some work done – they do bottomless coffee for £10 which is a pretty great deal and I could imagine the atmosphere during the day is quite nice and relaxing.
*I was invited to review Canova Hall, but all views are my own.