Although no foodie’s London pilgrimage would be complete without a trip to Borough Market – touristy and expensive though it has become – there is another food mecca that gourmands really ought to visit while strolling through Southwark of a Saturday. Bermondsey’s Maltby Street Market, which started life in 2010 amidst a groundswell of support for independent food and beverage producers in the area, is now perhaps the better destination for groceries or weekend brunch and lunch.
Over the past decade Bermondsey has become a dining destination in its own right. Where once there were warehouses and dodgy boozers, now there are loft conversions, gastropubs and restaurants. This week we highlight some of the best places to eat out in SE1 and SE16…
At the higher end of things…
This large but “friendly” hang-out takes some credit for helping to make Bermondsey the “buzzy” place it is today. The restaurant reopened last year after a major refurb, which included the addition of the Little Room private dining space, two new cocktail bars and a casual ground floor canteen.
Tom Sellers’s “sensational” food with a “theatrical” twist (“everyone will want to try the dripping candle”) has made his “NOMA-style” spot the best of the 2013 newcomers – brave the “awful” location, south of Tower Bridge, and you’ll find an “interesting” Scandi-style room where staff simply “buzz with enthusiasm”.
““The best-kept secret in Shad Thames!”; this “welcoming”, “no-fuss” Italian has “quite a reputation on the gourmet trail” for its “proper” cooking (pasta in particular).
Mid-price, but certainly not mid-range…
The Garrison SE1
A “very busy” Bermondsey gastroboozer, with a “lovely interior” and a “great vibe”; the food in general is “very decent”, with the “dependable” brunch a particular highlight.
“London’s best Italian” – Sam Harris’s “phenomenal” Bermondsey three-year-old is “on a par with the River Café” yet “at a fraction of the cost”; it’s a surprisingly “civilised” experience too (for which you must book months ahead).
““Wonderful on all levels” – José P’s Bermondsey “gem” is a “passionate” undertaking, serving tapas “almost as good as in Barcelona”, and “interesting” wines too; unsurprisingly, it “can get very busy”
Cheaper and oh so cheerful…
““The only serious competition for Barrafina”; with its “divine” tapas, “wonderfully diverse” wines and sherries, “super-efficient” service, and brilliant vibe, José Pizarro’s tiny Bermondsey corner-bar is “worth the hype, the squeeze, and the inevitable wait”.
Casse Croute SE1
We’re really sorry we didn’t get to visit this new Bermondsey bistro before this guide went to press – it’s been widely reviewed as a top-value destination ‘of the sort you don’t get in France any more’. Situated just opposite José Pizarro’s eponymous restaurant on Bermondsey Road, the queues are just as mind-boggling here as they are at the crowded tapas joint.
40 Maltby Street SE1
“Basic, but totally cool”, this wine bar – located “under the arches” of “the ‘new’ Borough Market” – offers “excellent” tapas-style dishes, complemented by “adventurous” natural wines that are “always interesting”.