Monday 9th December 2013
At the time I visited this Pub-Restaurant it was a relative newcomer to the London drinking scene having opened in March 2013. It originally opened as a pub during the 1860s, a fact I found surprising as it looks a more modern building. I can't argue though, as the first reference to it was in 1869 and that is fact.
Its intermediate history seems to have been lost in the mists of time as I don't even know which brewery, presumably one from London, owned it in the latter half of the 20th Century.
During the 2000s and possibly earlier, it had become a Shepherd Neame (Faversham, Kent) pub. It was closed by them in 2006. It seems that Oakham Brewery of Peterborough showed an interest in 2007. I believe they made a planning application for some changes and then it was withdrawn. They must have kept the faith as they now lease the pub.
Oakham Ales commenced production in their namesake town in 1993 and in 1998 moved to Peterborough. There, they occupied a former Social Security Office that seemed almost purpose-built to be a brew pub. It was named The Brewery Tap, not unsurprisingly. Success in selling their beers meant that capacity had to be increased and soon it was said to be the largest brew pub in Europe. This oft-repeated proclamation was completely untrue as it was actually the largest brewery in a brew pub. This is not being pedantic as there are much larger brew pubs in many countries.
Eventually the 35 barrel capacity at the Brewery Tap proved to be inadequate again and the decision was made to build a new brewery on another site. This opened in 2006 and was of 75 barrels capacity. The brewery in the pub was sold and new, much smaller plant of 6 barrels capacity opened as a replacement. The company is very prominent in the free trade and operates several outlets in the Peterborough area.
Back to the pub; Oakham Ales kept their interest going and although suffering some setbacks in their planning application, eventually won the day and it was granted. Although Kennington is not noted up till now for its dining possibilities, this is a combination of restaurant and pub. The food is what is known as pan-Asian, which means it is literally from all over Asia. This restaurant side of the business is known as Oaka.
On entering, I could see that there was a definite division between the drinking area and the restaurant.
To the left I found quite a long bar with a decorated Christmas tree at the end, it was that time of year! There is quite a lot of seating in front of the bar. The entire decor is very smart and modern with lots of dark wood. It is obvious that a bit of money has been spent on it. I think it is a bit of a gamble with the restaurant and it has to become a destination with a good reputation. Its proximity to an Underground station may help in this.
The beer range is naturally from the home side and was as follows. The regular range was JHB (Jeffrey Hudson Bitter) (3.8%); Citra (4.2%); Inferno (4.0%) and Bishop's Farewell (4.6%). There were no seasonal beers but there were two Specials: Black Hole Porter (5.5%) and Attila (7.5%). These really are special as they are matured for six months until the yeast is completely worked out. Then a little bit of fresh beer is added and this restarts the fermentation. It is then casked and sent to the pubs. The process is known as Krausening.
They also now have a house cider called Oaple (5.8%). It is made with mostly cider apples from Warwickshire and Worcestershire with the addition of some Bramleys. They are working to produce a new variety of apple to be called Oaple. I suggest we have to wait a long time to see the fruits (deliberate reference) of this venture. Hogan's Cider makes the existing Oaple, which was on sale in the Mansion House.
I can't speak for the restaurant operation here, yet the beers were in superb condition. It's well worth a visit.
The Mansion House, 48 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4RS. Tel: 0207 582 5599
Open: Sunday to Thursday 12.00-00.30; Friday & Saturday 12.00-01.30
Food Service: Monday to Thursday 12.00-14.30, 17.30-22.30;
Friday 12.00-14.30, 17.30-23.00; Saturday 12.00-15.30, 17.30-23.00; Sunday 12.00-21.30
The pub is less than five minutes from Kennington tube station (Northern Line). From the station exit cross to the other side of the road, turn right on the opposite pavement. After a few hundred metres the pub is on the left. Buses that pass outside are: 133, 155, 333 and 415. There are also night buses N133 and N155.