ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!
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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lost Breweries: D is for Devilfish

If I was a few years older, D would almost certainly stand for Devenish or Davenports, but as I'm still pushing back against the encroaching trouser-press of Fortydom, I'll take a tangential turn and talk about Antic pubs. For a bit.

Long-time readers will know my views on Antic - beloved and frustrating as they are in more or less equal measure. I like the quirky decor, the beer choice and quality is often superb and they usually ensure excellent food by employing creative, talented chefs.

Antic pubs are good enough to regularly feature in the Pub of Year, which is why it's all the more irritating that their business- and estate-management skills appear almost non-existent. Thriving, successful Antic pubs close at extremely short notice, quality staff are shunted around apparently at random and sometimes even the shortest of short-term leases aren't seen through to completion.

The Catford Bridge Tavern even won PotY in 2013, shortly before closing, and just down the road, we recently lost the Ravensbourne Arms, another PotY finalist. Yes, Antic run some truly great pubs, but one simply cannot rely on them to even still be there tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Lost Breweries: C is for Cains

It's unusual for a Victorian-era regional brewery to simply close. Normally they either keep plodding along, producing nondescript beers for an aging local populace, or they get taken over by someone bigger and run into the ground.

The relatively recent demise of Cains was a truly bizarre case of fiddling while Liverpool burned. Even as brewing ceased, the owners were in denial and 'highly confident' about the direction of Cains, citing a forthcoming modern new microbrewery on the site and a bright future for the brand, neither of which have materialised in the three years since.

This was the latest (and, it would appear last) chapter in a convoluted history of ownership, and exactly what happened to cause its sudden closure remains something of a mystery. When the final ownership team - the Dusanj brothers - took control back in 2002 they were the first Asian owners of a British brewery and certainly talked a fine game. Previously the brewery and brand was owned by Boddington's of Manchester, giving them a presence in Merseyside, before they themselves were taken over by the Whitbread group (and thereafter InBev) and gave Cains back its independence.

But was the beer ever any good?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Drink up and move on

Six years ago, when I first started this blog - yes, it really has been that long - I worked in Canary Wharf and lived a few stops down the DLR. Ben Viveur was largely a food blog aimed at the lunchtime crowd 'On the Wharf'.

Things change. I moved offices a few times and the BV remit expanded to include the whole of London, and, occasionally places further afield. Which is probably a good thing. Christ knows how bored I'd be if I was still searching for the best sandwich in Canada Square now.

Well now, I'm leaving London. Moving house. Becoming a responsible homeowner for the first time. Woo. Scary. Things changing bigly.

So is this the end of BV as we know it? The end of the London Pub of the Year contest? The end of London restaurant reviews? (Not that I've done as many of them as I could lately)

No, of course it fucking isn't. I'll only be technically just outside London - Caterham, to be specific - and in all likelihood I won't spend any less time eating and drinking around the capital than I do now.

But with the move coming up, I've had to knuckle down and start drinking up the various samples that I get sent. And a couple of them were rather interesting and a little different to the standard pale ales that usually arrive on the doorstep.

(I know, I'm really very bad at reviewing the stuff I get sent to review. Hopefully this will make up for it a bit.)

Friday, August 19, 2016

BV London Pub of the Year 2015-16 - the results

Winning stuff is great.

Team GB is having the best overseas Olympics ever and might even pip China to second place in the medals table which would be a bloody fantastic achievement. If any of our medalists are reading - I'll buy you a pint. And that goes for all those unlucky fourth-place finishers too. Maybe there should be some sort of Tin medal for them or something?

Dominating the competition...
Now we can all safely forget about how shit England were in the footie, and enjoy some real sport. Watching the athletics always makes me want to go out and buy a load of javelins.

But it's not the only big competition exciting us this Summer - there are trophies (well, a trophy) to be awarded in the BV London Pub of Year.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Brewdog brings back real ale - sort of

The big announcement last week in the beer world came from Brewdog. So far, so normal. They like to do 'big announcements' on a regular, predictable basis.

I'm surprised they haven't brewed a triple IPA called 'Big Announcement' then done a big announcement about it, frankly.

But unlike most of the news coming out of Fraserburgh (or Ellon, or wherever it is they've had to relocate to now because they've increased another 300% in size in the last six months) this was actually important stuff.

Introspective and self promoting, obviously, because we wouldn't expect anything else from them, but important, paradigm-shifting news nonetheless. (And, yes, I am going to try to work a dig at Brewdog into every sentence, thank you very much!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BV London Pub of the Year 2015-16 - part two

The other day we revisited the top five pubs from last year's competition. Now comes the arguably more interesting list of the five new challengers on the 2015-16 shortlist.

Narrowing it down to five was a challenge. Trying to ensure all parts of Greater London are represented is borderline impossible, while there is always a strong temptation to include more pubs that are undeniably great but similar to those already in the competition - such as another Craft Beer Company outlet.

I've tried to pick pubs that I think are worthy of entry in the competition whilst retaining a bit of variety, and this is what I've come up with:

Friday, July 22, 2016

BV London Pub of the Year 2015-16 - part one

So, it's that time of the year again. That half-way point in the calendar when I pick my Pub of the Year, which is probably the same as it was last year. You know the drill by now.

Except that things are a bit different this time.

Rather foolishly I committed myself at the start of 2016 to visiting every single brewery in London, with a view to putting out a book on the subject. That's going alright. Sort of. I've done just about half of the current total, so I'm just about on schedule.

The thing is, once you've one brewery (ok, a few) you really have seen them all. You start to see sacks of malt in your dreams. You try to find something that makes this fermentation vessel different from those fermentation vessels you saw last Saturday. All those American Pale Ales start to blur into one continuous stream of golden hoppiness. Another day. Another railway arch. Another industrial estate...