BAD VIBES AT THE BONNINGTON
Bonnington Square is a rather special part of south London, with an extraordinary atmosphere and a rare community spirit. I'm spending a fair amount of time wandering round there as I am trying to buy a house in the area, so far without any success.
Anyway, Bonnington Square and Vauxhall Grove that runs off it are lovely. In Vauxhall Grove sits the Bonnington Cafe, a charming vegetarian cafe. I had a nice, cheap lunch there with a friend the other Sunday and, though I'm not a veggie, will surely eat there again.
The people who run and cook at the Bonnington have no pretensions to be Gordon Ramsey - they are volunteers and enthusiasts and this is a little place serving the local community. So it was slightly odd of the Observer to send its restaurant critic, Jay Rayner, to review the place.
To be fair to Rayner, he is a Brixton resident and does review local places from time to time - it was through one of his pieces that I discovered the marvellous Gallery, a fantastic Portuguese restaurant in Brixton Hill. But sending him to review the Bonnington was a little like sending a theatre critic to write about a school play, or the chief football writer to report on a Sunday League game - all the more so since Rayner is no fan of vegetarian cooking.
So, predictably enough, Rayner hated the Bonnington and wrote what was pretty much a hatchet job over a page in today's Observer. That's his right, of course, but you wonder what the point of the exercise was, when he's clearly more at home in the Dorchester.
UPDATE: Jay Rayner has added a comment below arguing, reasonably enough, that I was unfair to say he hated the Bonnington. "Liked the place, hated the food" may have been a fairer summary.
And here's a view on the Bonnington and Jay Rayner's review from another blogger.