Bermondsey area guide

Walk along the Thames or hit Bermondsey Street, and find the best restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do

Once an important part of London's river trade, Bermondsey sat derelict for several decades, until the area's wharves were renovated in the 1980s. Now it's a lively part of town, with some exceptionally good restaurants and coffee houses, although they can sometimes be a bit tricky to find. Bermondsey also has plenty of excellent bars and pubs, usually packed to the brim with visitors and regulars. Bermondsey can turn Londoners into tourists: The Scoop in particular attracts both out-of-towners and locals to its free quality events.

What are your favourite Bermondsey haunts? Let us know in the comments.

Bars and pubs in Bermondsey

Bars and pubs

Hide Bar

Venue says: The Hide has been serving great cocktails, local beers and carefully selected wines in The Wine & Spirit Education Trust building on Bermondsey Street since the start of 2007. Cocktails are our speciality, and with more than 500 of the world's best spirits on the back bar, we're happy to tailor them to your specifications - whether it's in a vintage sazerac or a smoky mezcal punch. We love our local Bermondsey gin from Jensen's and craft beers from the likes of Fourpure and Kernel, and along with them, we try to source as much as possible from local producers and distributors. The Hide is open from Tuesday-Saturday from 5pm-late (1am-2am). We are seated only, so please make a reservation, particularly later in the week when we can get very busy.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Woolpack

The Woolpack is a down-to-earth alternative to the Garrison opposite, even if its website witters on about ‘unwinding in the heart of bohemian Bermondsey’. The location is prosaic – a side street branching off from the London Bridge rail estuary – but that shouldn’t detract from what’s a quality two-floor pub-restaurant. Beer-wise, you’ll find the likes of Kirin Ichiban, Leffe and Thwaites Nutty Black, while the dozen-strong wine list (by the glass and bottle) includes a few unusual offerings. Mains are of the beer-battered haddock and chips or Cumberland sausage and mash variety, and cost around a tenner. The smaller, tiled downstairs space feels lived-in and traditional, while upstairs is even more relaxed.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs

Mayflower

Venue says: The Mayflower is a traditional, typically English pub and restaurant boasting a great view over the River Thames from the outside, decked jetty area. The building is the oldest pub you'll find in London on the Thames, full of history and the original mooring point of The Pilgrim Fathers' Mayflower Ship. It's kitted out with original features, wooden beams and an eclectic mixture of antiques, paintings and taxidermy. Upstairs you'll find an intimate, candlelit restaurant with stunning views across the river and a list of the passenger names from the first voyage in 1620. The menu throughout the pub and restaurant serves delicious British gastro-pub dishes and European-fusion style food, cooked fresh to order by top chefs. The main bar has a great range of well kept ales and lagers and tastefully chosen wines. This is a great place for a celebration, family meal or quirky date with the cosy snug area perfect as a function room for a gathering of around 20 or you can hire out the upstairs restaurant for sit down meals of up to 45 people. Serving food all day Saturday and Sunday and on week nights from 6pm until 9.30pm, The Mayflower is very popular and it is advisable to book a table in the restaurant. The nearest tube is Rotherhithe station on the orange line, just a two minute walk away, or Canada Water & Bermondsey stations are just ten minutes away on the Jubilee. Email for a booking: mayflowerrotherhithe@gmail.com Visit the website: www.themayflowerrotherhithe.com

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Boot & Flogger

‘JHn. Davy Free Vintner’ reads the sign on the wall of an empty Borough side street, above an 071 number. It may as well read ‘Southwark 1184’ for all the modernity present within. ‘Hello, Sir,’ calls out Peter Common from behind a hatch as you enter, admiring the beautiful wood-panelled interior and occasional finely upholstered chair amid the wooden ones. A bowl of water biscuits awaits on the counter, where the promise of rare sirloin and cured ox tongue cold cuts is chalked up alongside game pie and fresh Newlyn crab meat, white only. The wine selection is concise: affordable house French red or white among a dozen by the glass; another dozen half-bottles; and a premium list of limited-availability reds and magnums of claret. A sign says that the Boot & Flogger offers ‘port, sherry and Madeira direct from the wood’; but alas, the glasses (around £4.50) are no longer filled from the cask. Among the decorative pictures is a notice calling for men to join the Light Brigade; indeed, this is the kind of place officers would have gathered before the fateful journey to the Crimea.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Things to do in Bermondsey

Museums

Design Museum

Opened in 1989 (following its original incarnation as the Boilerhouse established in the V&A by Terence Conran), the Design Museum by Tower Bridge encompasses modern and contemporary industrial and fashion design, graphics, architecture and multimedia. The smart Blueprint Café has a balcony overlooking the Thames. You can buy design books in the museum shop, as well as products related to the exhibitions. Exhibitions are usually accompanied by a programme of workshops for children.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Things to do

The Scoop

An outdoor ampitheatre poistioned in between London and Tower Bridge, The Scoop plays host to all manner of activities and entertainment - from daily get fit classes to dance and theatre.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Attractions

HMS Belfast

Europe's largest cruiser from WWII, HMS Belfast is now a floating naval museum, a landmark on the Thames near Tower Bridge, with its nine huge decks, including gun turrets, punishment rooms and an operating theatre. 'HMS Belfast in War and Peace' tells the story of the HMS Belfast from her inception in the mid-1930s to the decision to save her for the nation in 1971. Original artefacts, documents, plans and drawings (as well as contemporary paintings, photographs, models and audio-visual displays) give a detailed account of the life and times of the warship and the men who served in her.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Shopping

Maltby Street Market

During the summer of 2010, a quiet bubble of gastronomic intent was swelling under the railway arches in Bermondsey. This unlikely south-east London backwater quickly became a popular destination for a Saturday morning wander with a bit of grocery shopping along the way. A few years on, many new traders have got involved, the recently Ropewalk has become a full-on street market, and some of the original bunch have moved down the road to Spa Terminus. Find out about the gastronomic delights that await beneath the arches. Ropewalk is now open 9am-4pm Sat and 11am-4pm Sun but Spa Terminus is still strictly Saturdays only (around 9am-2pm for most producers), so that’s the day to take it all in. Statisfy your appetite at more of London's food markets

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Restaurants in Bermondsey

Restaurants Book online

Zucca

A couple of pumpkins on the open kitchen counter reference the restaurant’s name and provide a touch of warmth to Zucca’s super-sleek interior. Gentle refurbishment has seen hard surfaces softened and, with light streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the room has a sophisticated Sydney vibe. Eat at the bar and you’ll look awkwardly conspicuous to the roomful of people behind; it’s best to book a table in advance. Our meal was mostly good. Own-made breads were followed by burrata with broad beans in a garlicky dressing, and clean-tasting spider crab served prettily in its shell. The own-made pasta is superb and a sweetly earthy sauce of lentils, walnuts and basil was entirely successful; cod with chickpeas was dull by comparison. Service was initially brisk but ran out of steam through dessert; we were there a good 30 minutes longer than we needed to be. The wine list has many admirable bottles but, despite a proliferation of maps, is generally unhelpful and starts at an elitist £26 a bottle – that’s how much Bermondsey has changed in the past decade. Zucca’s owners plan an offshoot for the site next door: Farina will focus on pizza and ice-cream.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Restaurants

José

José Pizarro (formerly co-founder and head chef of Brindisa) has done a fine job here of creating a very genuine, slightly rustic local Spanish bar. The decor is plain brick, timbers and tiles; seating is mostly on stools, with barrels to stand glasses on; and there’s a no-bookings, doors-wide-open attitude, albeit while being firmly planted in trendified Bermondsey. This, his TV appearances and books have cemented his position as the most prominent Spanish chef in Britain, but what stands out here is his expert attention to sourcing and getting the basics right, ahead of culinary adventurism. You won’t find any great innovations, but you will be treated to perfect, fantastically fresh renderings of the kind of classic traditional tapas that are too often let down by routine reheated preparation, such as crisp-outside, creamy-within croquetas, deep-flavoured tortilla and saltily bittersweet padrón peppers. Prawns came perfectly flash-fried in powerful but never overpowering garlic and chilli, and the renowned Ibérico ham and other meats are from Maldonado, one of Spain’s most esteemed artisan producers. Wines cover a desirable fine-quality range, all available by the (well-priced) glass. The admirably unflustered staff are experts in space management, but we wonder how long a place so regularly packed can stay in such a small setting.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Restaurants

The Maltings Café

The Maltings Café is a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Located on the south side of the Tower Bridge in London, this chic, chilled venue serves up simple and delicious Mediterranean dishes alongside an extensive old world wine list. The sunny, friendly dining room – with blond wood floors, vanilla-hued lamps and exposed brick walls – is popular with both locals and city types for business lunches and intimate evening meals, and the daily menu is prepared with the finest ingredients using authentic regional recipes. We love the Napoli sausages served with canellini beans and sage; the linguine with meatballs, tomatoes and parmesan cheese; and the grilled squid served with lemon.

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Restaurants

La Grotta Ices

Kitty Travers’ tiny ice cream van is an unassuming vehicle for a range of unusual ices, with flavours that defy all conventions. She can usually be found pitching up at Bermondsey’s Maltby Street on Saturday mornings; the ‘menu’ frequently changes depending on what ingredients Travers has sourced (direct from farmers, from contacts or from foraging herself) during the week, while milk and crème fraîche come from Ivy House Farm. Elderflower, cucumber and sour cream, blackcurrant custard and peach leaf ice creams have all featured at some point – while a pink gooseberry and hazelnut crumble offering is one of her newer creations. Check www.lagrottaices.tumblr.com for updates and locations.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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