Zeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners

Bars and pubs Vauxhall
3 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(8user reviews)

In October 2007, this spacious Victorian pub in an almost comically isolated spot behind Lambeth Bridge was spruced up by new German owners. They retained the ornate central bar, but the periphery was reupholstered in black banquettes, and the walls were painted matt black.

A few German flags brighten up the pub – not something you would have seen in the middle of the last century, when this part of Lambeth was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe.

The main attraction, of course, is the list of German beers, which contains few familiar names (Beck’s is about it) and covers most styles, from aromatic weiss varieties through light pilsners to darker brews. Occasional beer festivals further increase the variety.

The food is just as Teutonic: schnitzel, sausages and other hearty fare constitutes the lion’s share. The bar’s popular with German expats, who gather to watch Bundesliga matches on two big screens.


Venue name: Zeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners
Address: 49-51 Black Prince Rd
SE11 6AB
Opening hours: noon-12.30am Mon-Thur, noon-1am Fri, 1pm-midnight Sat, 1-11pm Sun Food served: noon-10pm daily
Transport: Tube: Vauxhall tube/rail
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Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:3
1 person listening

Best pub in the area for watching football matches and hanging out, really nice staff, good food also.

Super friendly staff, great German food, great variety of German beers and loads of German Bundesliga! Simply the best place to watch German football in London!

Sad to read such unrealistic reviews here for what is something of a rarity - a specialist establishment NOT charging like a wounded bull for good food, good beer and a pleasant atmosphere. Quite why Time Out allows a one star review from someone who by her own admission has never visited the establishment is beyond me. 

I have been here 3 times, each time the service was good, the food was excellent and in plentiful quantities and the bill was very reasonable. I've tried the frikadellen, and 2 different kinds of schnitzel. Neither were "swimming in oil" or under/overcooked. I despair when people give a pub a bad review because they don't offer table service! It seemed pretty obvious this was what was on offer, but for the avoidance of doubt (gasp) I asked one of the staff. 

We go there after football on Mondays. Lovely staff, pints for under £4, dodgy 80s music on the big screen, Premier League action on the small ones... We love it so much we're having our Christmas party there. 5 litre barrel of Bitburger? Vielen dank

When it comes to food...No star for that pub whatsoever and certainly not from me! They managed it perfectly to insult our tastebuds with their poor attempt to serve German food. As their menue is overloaded with pork - pork here pork there, pork everywhere and within only a meagre choice of non porky food options (German cooking is not all about pork, I know German food, I love it, but what you'll find on the Zeitgeist menue is a poor range of German dishes), me and my husband opted for Gulasch with bread dumpling slices and Käsespätzle. The first should be normally a hearty tasty dish with chunks of good beef in a sauce with lots of paprika and the latter should be normally a hearty tasty noodlelike dish with cheese - NORMALLY. What we received was disaster on a plate. The Gulasch tasted like something out of a cheap tin with very low quality beef in a bland untasty sauce. It tasted reheated. The bread dumpling slices were partly burned and bone-desert-dry. Yukk! The Käsespätzle resembled nothing I ever had before. They really managed to serve the most ridiculously bad Käsespätzle I ever ever had. Brownish-greyish noodlelike thingies in a disgusting grainy sauce which remembered very distantly of cheese but with no cheese anywhere in sight. Probably something made out of some gravy powder. Well this culinary experience left us both with considerable bloating and stomach pain and even my skin reacted badly with an outbreak. The service is not the best either. As there was a menue on the table we assumed a waiter or waitress would take our order. Nothing happened for at least twenty minutes. Meanwhile the waitress stood nearby chatting with a guest, ignoring us. We were literally running after her only to hear that it is self service and immediate payment to be made at the bar. Outside in the little courtyard were we sat - an uninspiring small yellow painted place with benches and tables and a ladder lying around - there was no sign that said self service whatsoever. The staff clearly has a problem to listen properly. We ordered coke glassbottles from the fridge and the waitress tried to give us wobbly plastic cups with coke from the tap. Rather frosty we insisted on the glassbottles. The whole Zeitgeist experience ? A waste of time and money, an insult to German cooking and to cooking in general and an attack on our tastebuds. If you want to eat proper German food better try to cook some recipes yourself or get yourself some German friends who can cook or make a trip to Germany. But do not try Gulasch or Käsespätzle from that pub. Please!

Sadly not what I expected... No warm nor friendly welcome from anyone behind the bar & why is there a coffee shop in a pub??? The food seems soked in oil, chips not done... And on top of that you can see that the owner has no passion for the venue as it looks rather run down, not what one would expect from German management... Typos in the menu & spelling mistakes on the blackboards make it look worse. Hope it picks up at some point!

0 of 1 found helpful

This is not a review as I have never visited this establishment however I do have a suggestion for the owners and the chef  (a rather obvious one for German food lovers in London I think) but here goes:- 

Judging by the 2 reviews posted here (one from 2012 and the other 2014) it would seem the quality and variety of food served is poor to say the least.

You are located perfectly to access the renound Borough Food market where you could obtain fresh authentic German produce on a daily basis. It might even be possible to arrange delivery to your premises.

There's absolutely no excuse for low quality meals which are clearly being offered here at Zeitgeist which is such a bad reflection of the German culinary experience.

I was excited to learn about the existence of your pub and the availability of good German beers accompanied by some delicious food however based solely on the 2 reviews, regretfully, I shall give you a miss. 

Time to shake things up Zeitgeist, you're missing out on a massive opportunity to become the best German pub in London serving the best food which, in turn, becomes a magnet for returning customers.


Disappointed of Dulwich.