Tim Firmager heads to London’s buzzing Brixton to find out whether newly launched Canova Hall’s pizza menu is up to scratch.
Launched earlier this summer, Canova Hall opens in what was the worker’s hall of Le Bon Marché. Canova Hall aims to offer an eclectic mix of all-day bottomless coffees and late-night cocktails and pizza.
Canova Hall’s corner location with 270 degrees of glass frontage, and towering grandeur cannot be missed. Inside, the space opens up into abrupt mix of industrial ruggedness mixed with faded Art Deco and vintage stylings by Red Deer (who also designed Bourne & Hollingsworth’s interior). The visual effect is somewhat balmy, a bygone Edwardian factory meets stylish mess hall. Atmosphere, likely due in part to the Brixton locale, is an inviting buzz spreading infectiously, so instinctively we knew a good evening was ahead. After a warm welcome from our Australian waitress, we took at stool at the bar central bar whilst our table was being prepared. A vast clock, atop a wooden drinks cabinet keeps track of the tempo of the evening’s frivolities.
Booths and regular tables are available, and if your party size fits we recommend the former. Perusing the menu, we were unfortunately informed that our first choices of both cocktail and starters were unavailable, so settled to nibble on some Pedron peppers with sea salt (£4) and succulent Zucchini fries with aioli (£5), whilst we contemplated main course – which was pizza, obviously.
Pasta and a small selection of house plates are also available, but pizza was our choice as the authentic wood oven is visible to diners, and bases are made from a 48-hour fermented dough. We chose the Say Cheese (£13) topped with smoked scarmoza, pecorino, pistachio pesto, pink peppercorns and lemon; and a Smokey Bandit (£13) topped with smoked pancetta and potato, truffle taleggio, mozzarella, lemon and sage. Both were impressively rich in flavour and hindsight taught us we should have chosen half-and-half toppings, which the chefs are happy to prepare.
The team also have a love of gin, having perfected their distilling skills at their sister site, and soon expecting their on-site gin distillery ‘Grace’. Careful consideration, balance and tasting has therefore been applied for the succinct gin menu at Canova Hall, with prices starting at £8.60 for G&T mix. We preferred the punchy “Hackney” G&T from the East London Liquor Co. with Square Root Artemisia tonic, tarragon and lemon (£12).
Cocktails were fun rather than pretentious, albeit will set you back nearly the same price as a main course. Nevertheless, the Sweet Manuel cocktail (£12) made with El Jimador Blanco, Fraise and decorated with fresh strawberries, basil, lime juice and balsamic reduction was our favourite. Followed closely by the Kiwi Caipirinha (£10) with Abelha Silver Organic Cachaça, kiwi, limes and fresh ginger, and the Red Berry Spritz (£11) with Raspberry vodka, creme de mure, fresh berries, soda and frizzante.
We loved the interior and atmosphere at Canova Hall, quite frankly its infectious welcome is enough to cast aside and unwind from any kind of office stress. The pizzas at a delicious price point mean a starter and main come in under £20 per person. And a gin menu. Pizza and gin, what more could one ask for?
We were understandably disappointed that our first choice of food and drink was unavailable, perhaps an unforgivable crime for a Tuesday evening; however we’ll let it pass on this occasion as we still managed to submerse ourselves into moreish carb heaven.
Canova Hall is open everyday from early morning and until to 1am on Friday and Saturday.
Canova Hall is located at 250 Ferndale Road, Brixton, London, SW9 8BQ
For more information or to book a table, visit canovahall.com.