Bermondsey is strung out over several distinct neighbourhoods that stretch from London Bridge. There’s the ‘street of dreams,’ as locals term Bermondsey Street, all post-punk, PJ Harvey, and cobbled Victoriana. There’s the ‘street of nightmares,’ or Tower Bridge Road. And then there’s the railroad, where some of the food industry’s most venerable producers and importers work the long line of brick arches reaching to the old industrial district around the Biscuit Factory. Here, braziers get lit against the cold in winter, and the smell of gin and hops stains the brickwork. This is the backbone of the area, a rich vein of historical production that bleeds into the local restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, and bars — and, come a Saturday or Sunday morning, is tapped by Londoners in search of deliciousness, when traders open to the public for a few small hours.Read More
11 Superb Places to Eat in Bermondsey
Restaurants, yes — but this is a place where London’s best traders and producers sell their weekend wares
40 Maltby St
40 Maltby Street, home of importer Gergovie Wines, is a dream local. That said, chefs and restaurant people from all over town head here when off shift, looking for a slice of solace that probably comes with cream. It’s possible to lose whole afternoons perched around pallet tables of fritters, crumbed brawn and jellied eggs, oatmeal tarts and gelatinous cuttlefish; sponges, jellies and set creams. There’s often a little biscuit: shortbread perhaps, or ginger nut. And there’s never any hurry; the plates can loll at leisure without being rushed off, half eaten; the bar staff know the wine list like an old friend.
Black Swan Yard Coffee LTD
Bermondsey’s best coffee is as much a dark horse as a black swan. One could spend years walking Bermondsey Street and miss it — a counter in the inauspicious corner of a bike shop, behind a street hatch. The coffee, from Margate’s Curve, is so good in fact it almost feels irreverent to add a snack. But the pneumatic Snapery buns — cardamom, chocolate brioche — are very inviting, as are the açai bowls. There’s a long table, lush acoustics on the speakers, WiFi, and warmth. A freelancer’s dream.
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Omoide is where Angelo Sato — formerly head chef of Story Restaurant — went next, via a pop-up in Old Street station. The chirashi served is a return to his Japanese roots, but there’s much continuity here with the Michelin-starred Story. Super slick, Michelin micro-detail and an enviable prep counter — all working for customisable shokuji rice bowls and dashi. The important things here are the bright, unmuddied flavours that speak of quality raw materials. Lunch only.
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Kin and Deum
Milder and less Instagram-frenetic than London’s spate of nu-Thai north of the river, Kin and Deum is more in the traditional vein — from three Thai siblings Shakris, Roselyn, and Bank Inngern. The site’s the inheritor to their father Suchard’s restaurant on Tooley Street — still there — and it nods back to a past both classic Thai, and classic British. Thai green curries are rarely seen on new menus today and most new operators would baulk at dishes which have all but lapsed into cliche. But the perennial truth of why cliches become such to begin with — because they are loved and delicious — seems to be behind the menu choices here. Signs of a kitchen finding its own footing, between past and future.
Where Dongbei meets Sichuan, around one of London’s best dry hotpots. Pick a mix for the pot, steering wide of the higher heat levels — they run from one to four — which are palate-razingly hot. Outside the pot, Dongbei dishes are particularly strong: braised aubergine in yellow bean sauce; a dry-fried, waxed Chinese sausage with a curiously, then compulsively chewy texture; tea tree mushrooms with the delicious texture of slightly decomposing meat. On the Sichuan side, get the fried green beans with minced pork. This is a place to embrace intestines, pigs trotters, secret sauce. Bear in mind that it’s also a homing device for London’s Chinese student population, so get there early or book.
The second outpost from the folks at Casse-Croute is a rather gauche looking pavilion in the corner of Bermondsey Gardens. More 1980s retro than classic bistro, but the same head chef scurrying between the two. Expect swooping marble countertops, rotisserie chicken strung up in haute-looking bondage gear, piped butter rosettes and frozen pineapple desserts. Breakfast is the standout, perhaps, its omelettes composées, milk-fed brioche, croque monsieurs and chansons aux pommes (apple tarts) the sole French breakfast in the capital to hit both classicism and excellence. That chicken can be ordered in advance, to go — give or take an hour if it is a busy evening.
One of London’s best daily-changing blackboards, written entirely in French — yes, but the staff’s translation skills are excellent, and there’s an undeniable frisson to those Gallic words. Aim for a seat at a bar stuffed with trinkets, littered with old “favours” — cards imprinted with past patrons’ lipstick — and manned with the best kind of theatre. Menu standouts include rabbit or hare, pissaladière and eggs en cocotte.
Hedone hides out in wine importer Dynamic Vines’ arch at Spa Terminus — perhaps this is why its existence is still wondrously under-discovered. Just a single table of viennoisierie and patisserie, plus a shelf of bread. The sourdough-method viennoiseries and the breads are the strongest showings, particularly sweet, pearled sugar brioches and custard-webbed canelés, pains aux raisin soaked in banyuls vinegar, gummy crumbed sourdough and weathered rye. Saturday mornings only.
Little Bread Pedlar
Little Bread Pedlar is one of the Spa Terminus elders, dating back to when this stretch really was an industrial wasteland. The bakers no longer pedal their own pastries across London at 5am, and some of the originals have moved on, but its maverick, pioneering spirit remains. Expect a queue of around 30 people minimum here for their baguettes — also found at 40 Maltby Street — ficelles, rye made with beer from neighbours Kernel Brewery, focaccia, and a host of perfectly laminated pastries. Saturday mornings only.
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Lechevalier Wine Bar & Shop
Halfway down an anonymous stretch of the Tower Bridge Road, sometimes things get thirsty. That’s when Le Chevalier appears as a knight in shining armour with a life-saving raft of well-sourced, democratic, and globally representative bottles. Take away, or drink in at the bar, where there’s a changing wines by the glass list that can reveal some one-off gems. Wednesday is free corkage night.
There are two famous hams on this stretch: one is glazed, pink and served with mustard at 40 Maltby Street — the other is Bar Tozino’s jamón. Tozino is an unassuming little space, but inside this wooden den, often awash with Maltby Street revellers, the staff are fiercely proud of their hams. Tapas is fine, but diners are really here for a plate of the Jamón Bellota — acorn-fed, black-footed Iberian pig, cured and carved to order, served with Snapery baguette and had with a fino sherry. Perfect interim eating.
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