One of the owners of Sylvester tells me they chose a gender-neutral, disco-honouring name for the bar while he pours me a glass of natural wine. It’s like Peckham has spilled into villagey East Dulwich. And the locals seem to love it. This combo of wine bar, pizza joint and nightclub was bubbling over midweek, and excitable chatter melded with bass-heavy tunes. Wednesday could be the new Friday – but my hunch is that the bar’s neon is luring in the area’s rule-breakers.
The whitewashed walls and wooden tables of a Greek taverna get a clubby purple hue from that squiqqly neon, and plants suspended from the ceiling are very London 2019. I’d describe the basement, where they host karaoke and DJ nights, as more ‘functional’.
Serving low-intervention wine a few doors down from Terroirs (a bar group who pioneered drinking the stuff in London) is a bold move, but this is a party-ready way of doing it. I knocked back a Gewürztraminer, followed by a meaty French red that paired well with a salami-strewn pizza. My friend had a pre-batched Negroni, on the menu alongside a family of Spritzes and local beers from Gipsy Hill and Brick Brewery.
I thought we’d hit a bum note when, after waiting a while for our bill, it arrived with missing details. But our revised receipt came with a glass of red on the house for our honesty. It’s that kind of personal touch that made the bar stand out. And the ladies’ loo has the most random cluster of portraits on the wall: Amy Winehouse, Kim Gordon, Aphex Twin and Drake joined by Margaret Atwood, Spike Lee and more. I guess they’re all doing things a bit differently – which may tell you all you need to know about Sylvester.