Review: Artusi, Peckham SE15
January 12, 2016
No checkered table cloths and enormous priapic peppermills in this local Italian favourite on Bellenden Road. Artusi is a simple, slender neighbourhood restaurant where the prices are as stripped back as the decor. The hipster hordes of Peckham can count themselves very lucky. Continue Reading
The daytime drinker’s guide to… the Walworth Road
January 3, 2016
Because beer tastes better when you should be at work
Pubs in the daytime often have a desolate air, even at lunchtimes, as workers reject a one o’clock pint for a meal al desko. It’s this sense of being forgotten, of letting the world go busily by outside as the clock noisily ticks in a quiet pub that makes daytime drinking such a treat.
Walworth, that shabby square of South London bordered by Kennington, Camberwell and Bermondsey, seemed a promising place to start a daytime drinking tour. If you want peace and quiet, to be left alone, but to feel the unspoken camaraderie of other drinkers at the tables around, it seemed like the old school pubs of Walworth would provide happy hunting grounds for fuzzy and progressively less comprehending reading time.
Unfortunately, the invaluable pubology.co.uk maps out Walworth as a graveyard of fallen pubs – closed, converted or demolished. In the last few years alone, I have mourned the loss of several of them.
Review: Cockneys of Croydon
December 8, 2015
Pie and mash is my hangover food of choice. It’s cheap, with no sharp edges, and it’s usually dished up in a compact, bright white tiled space, so it’s just like staying safely put in your own bathroom. But with food. How comforting is that? Okay, so you often have to share a table with strangers, but in a pie and mash shop at midday on a Saturday, they’re normally more hungover than you and will avoid your eyes as well.
Review: Sunday lunch at Sylvan Post, Forest Hill SE23
December 1, 2015
Stylishly converted from a post office into a boozer, does Sylvan Post, in laidback Forest Hill, deliver? Continue Reading
Review: The Ivy House and Old Nuns Head, Nunhead SE15
November 25, 2015
The Ivy House in Nunhead, with its narrowly rescued Grade II-listed exterior, impressive range of real ale and craft beer and palpable sense of community, seems to blueprint the future for local pubs. And that future is full of kids. Damn.
Review: Sunday Lunch at The Camberwell Arms, Camberwell SE5
November 9, 2015
It’s all swell in Camberwell, not least around our belt buckles, after a gut-busting, button-popping blow-out of a Sunday lunch at gastropub The Camberwell Arms. If Sunday lunches are designed to do anything it’s to put you flat on your back until well after the Antiques Roadshow. Fiona Bruce was already looking like a long shot halfway through the main course. For that alone The Camberwell Arms deserves thanks.
Review: The London Particular, New Cross SE14
November 2, 2015
Herman Melville, visiting London in 1850, described his walk through a choking and poisonous “London particular”. It was an “old-fashioned pea soup London fog – of a gamboge colour.” Gamboge is a mustard-coloured pigment used to dye Buddhist monks’ robes and varnish violins. And it’s roughly the same colour as the murky split pea soup that the “London particular” loaned its name to. Fog no longer shrouds the capital, and split pea soup is rarely seen on its menus. But on a cold and drizzly night in New Cross, we still have the cockle-warming bistro The London Particular, a short dash across the bridge from the station.
Unfortunately they weren’t serving that famously comforting soup, but a display of fine, fast and reasonably priced English home-style cooking was more than enough to soothe our disappointment. In a comfortably care-polished and intimate setting, friendly staff serve rib-sticking seasonal dishes to a communal table and a few precarious-looking stools at the walls.
Twenty hilariously awful TripAdvisor London restaurant reviews
October 26, 2015
Judging by the glossy metropolitan food supplements and awe-struck newspaper reviews, you might think London is a dining-out nirvana where every earthly cuisine is served up at its finest. Luckily for the schadenfreude-seeking, TripAdvisor and its diners’ reviews teach us that there are still pockets of resistance, where hygiene is unheard of, customer service is just a rumour, and twelve-and-a-half per cent is silently added to your bill however appalling an experience you suffered. What did I learn from scouring the dregs of London’s culinary disaster areas? Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and Spitalfields are particularly happy hunting grounds for the gastronomic masochist. Avoid afternoon tea, all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets and anywhere you eat with a Groupon or Wowcher offer. You have been warned.
1. How not to greet customers – by the staff at an Ethiopian restaurant in Camberwell.
2. Gordon Ramsay gets both barrels from a proud parent who thought their six-year-old would prefer a seven course tasting menu to a bucket of Haribo.
A swill time at the Croydon Craft Beer Festival
October 18, 2015
Thirsty Londoners lapped up a banquet of pale ales, wheat beers and milk stouts at the first Croydon Craft Beer Festival this weekend. And it seemed another indicator of outer London’s growing cultural chops.
In the old reference library of Braithwaite Hall in central Croydon, beneath a hammer-beamed roof and stained glass windows extolling the virtues of reading, we joined hundreds of enthusiastic punters poring over closely-typed tasting notes. These “beer menus” were clearly whetting appetites to a keen edge – some labels had already been drained by late Saturday afternoon. And by eight p.m, unfortunately for some, the beer had been completely exhausted.