Bensoir! It's me, Benjamin. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You may have read stuff I've written elsewhere, but here on my own blog as Ben Viveur I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others, so pretty much anything goes.

BV is about enjoying real food and drink in the real world. I showcase 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. And as a critic 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!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Cheeseburger pizza crust - greater than the sum of shit parts?

Sometimes you can whack two indifferent things together and produce something that's pretty good - better, indeed, than its constituent parts.

And sometimes when you fuse desirable components, from the collision emerges a whole that is truly fucking awesome - as happened at the Titanic brewery on the day they decided to combine dark stout, chocolate and vanilla to create the amazing 'Velvet Curtain', one of the silkiest, smoothest, lusciousest dark beers of all time.

But a lot of the time, when the inspiration is less than divine, putting one and one together simply results in a mangled hybrid, like when you go to the toilet and do both at the same time, or, as I call it, a number three.

And so I expected it to be with Pizza Hut's latest base-fad: the cheeseburger crust.

That's right. Cheeseburgers in a pizza crust. According to the promotional wank it's 'a fun sharing pizza with 10 succulent 100% British Beef burgers baked in the crust, smothered with melted mozzarella. Hurry! Limited time.'

Hmm. Sounds really fun. And succulent. And Limited time...

You know I love great burgers and I love great pizzas, but this is an experiment that was never going to end well. Still, the proof of the pizza is in the eating, so I felt I ought to give it a go...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Capital Breakfasts

You might remember, way, way back at the very dawn of the year, I enjoyed a rather fine breakfast at Duke's Brew and Que and resolved to seek out London's other great breakfasts to see if the Duke could be matched or perhaps even bested...

It went the way of most resolutions made at that time of year, obviously.

Yes, I know. I've let my readers down, I've let myself down, but most of all, I've let breakfast down.

It's the-most-important-meal-of-the-day, so it is, and I've done gone and let it down by utterly failing to stick to my pledge.

Well, until now that is.

Look, I'm not really a morning person. It's a lot of effort getting up and leaving the house before I've even properly woken up. It's hard enough on work days. And I don't even have an appetite until lunchtime usually.

But enough excuses. You've had to wait a long while, so, to celebrate Ben Viveur post No. 150,  here's a double review of the breakfast fayre from two of London's big meaty heavyweights: Simpson's in the Strand and the Hawksmoor Guildhall.

Can silly money buy the best breakfast in London or just the most expensive?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back to my roots

It was three years ago that I first began to think about writing this blog.

I was eating my lunch in Singapore Sam, in the little food courty bit above the Tescos next to Canary Wharf DLR station. I think it was beef in black bean sauce. Maybe sweet and sour chicken.

Anyway, Singapore Sam (and indeed the little food courty bit above the Tescos next to Canary Wharf DLR station) has long since gone the way of all flesh... but the blog liveth on!

Back then, I had no idea I'd last for three years, or that I'd be awarding a Pub of the Year trophy, or that I'd find myself being recognised in restaurants from time to time. Indeed, I first conceived the blog as a modest guide to navigate a world of bustling anonymity.

It started out, in my mind, as a simple and fairly unambitious idea - go around reviewing all the places to eat lunch on the Wharf; Where to get the best sandwiches, the best coffee, why you should avoid Bene Bene because it's a pile of cheap shit and the sandwiches are slimy. That sort of thing.

Oh, and why Birley is one of the best things about Canary Wharf, obviously.

I hadn't come up with the masterstrokingly brilliant 'Ben Viveur' pun at that point, and was thinking of calling the blog 'The Wharf Foodie' or something equally mundane.

My strapline could've been 'Where the Financial Services Industry go to read about places they might like to get their lunch'.

Or maybe not.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Now that's what I call a trophy!

Ben Viveur London Pub of the Year is a pretty damn prestigious thing to be, and I've felt for a while that it needs to go beyond a congratulatory blog post.

I'll have a large one, please
Not being the sort of person to do stuff by half measures, I didn't think the winners should have to settle for some piddly certificate either.

Pubs might be closing like never before, but there are still several thousand in London, and being the best of the best is surely an accolade worthy of a big fuck-off trophy.

'Trophy shopkeeper', I said to the trophy shopkeeper, 'I'd like to see the biggest, fuck-offest trophy in your shop, if you please, Sir'.

As it turned out, nothing in the shop was big and fuck-off enough, so they ordered one in especially from the World of Trophies Trophy Warehouse. Or something.

And as of last night, that trophy has pride of place behind the bar of the Catford Bridge Tavern.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Miami Rice

Some years ago, back when the internet first ceased to be the sole preserve of cybergeeks and porn-lovers, there was an invasion of 'cool stuff'.

In those days, 'cool' usually meant a dancing Jesus or a photoshopped hamster with big eyes made to look like it was saying something cute. Oh joy.

Every time we think those dark days are behind us and we've moved on, someone somewhere comes up with another tedious meme that spreads like Leukemia. Keep calm and post another fucking picture of a sunset with 'motivational' words on it. That sort of thing.

And stupid pictures of kittens with banal, anthropomorphic sentiments. The suffragette movement may have achieved a lot of advancements, but they have a lot to answer for here!

If people truly like this cacksome drivel then that's all well and good and fine and dandy'n'shit. My worry is that anything I might actually find entertaining or interesting gets lost under unfathomable piles of mindless cock.

You have to feel for all the people who never get to read Ben Viveur because the internet traffic is backed up with cunts re-tweeting Stephen Fry and asking for ploughs in Farmville.

I'm about to share a great recipe for leftover roast pork, for example, but hardly anyone will get to see it. All too busy keeping calm, I shouldn't wonder...