Home to the city’s fast-rising grime stars, a new proliferation of upmarket flats and a rapidly increasing number of young families, Brockley is an area in flux. Nowhere is that more embodied than on the central stretch of this south-east London jewel: Brockley Road. A stone’s throw from New Cross and a ten-minute train ride to London Bridge (depending on what kind of mood the trains are in), it’s a street that’s noticeably going through some kind of phase. But for every symbol of gentrification you spot here, there’s a much-loved, long-running local favourite too.
Another thing: if you think about it hard and swap the palm trees for night buses, Brockley Road is south-east London’s answer to LA’s Sunset Boulevard. Famous faces past and present have called this place home: Kate Bush used to live round the corner; a skint Chris Tarrant slept in his car between shifts teaching at a local school; and soul singer Gabrielle’s (property) dreams came true when she invested here. The jaw-dropping Rivoli Ballroom is a magnet for Hollywood film shoots: Scarlett Johansson was recently spotted there, filming a scene for the next instalment of the ‘Avengers’ franchise.
Yep, Brockley isn’t just the subject of steaming hot vegetable puns. But like all healthy greens, this fun and culturally thriving patch south of the river is undoubtedly good for you.
The signature pulled pork bap at London Beer Dispensary, whether you’re a craft beer know-it-all or not (though they also have an on-trend selection of booze).
The traditional rendang dish at Malaysian Deli, a friendly and cheap rainbow-coloured café.
Jerk in coco bread from Jerk Garden, which fills Crofton Park with the gorgeous, summer scent of Caribbean chicken.
A non-stop, towering supply of cute Portuguese cakes at Fred’s. It’s also a hotspot for local mums and laptop-hugging freelancers.
Delicious fish and chips, always served fresh, at Brockley’s Rock. Definitely worth the admittedly hefty price.
The in-house Volden beer selection at Jam Circus, which also has the best south-of-the-river pub quiz – and art deco decor to die for.
A Brockley Sting cocktail at swanky new bar Brickfields. Don’t lose your keys while you’re there, though – it’s basically pitch black inside.
A pint at Brockley Jack, a Victorian pub-turned-theatre that houses a surprisingly affordable bar.
Two-for-one mojitos at The Gantry: the perfect refuge for knackered commuters – it’s situated right outside Brockley station.
Gourmet vegetables and crusty loaves at newly opened deli Jones of Brockley.
Posh scented candles and kids’ shoes and clothes at the eminently browsable Gently Elephant.
Vintage designer threads at Paraphernalia. The staff here know their stuff. Dig deep and you might strike gold.
Spend a Saturday sipping on the best of what the popular Brockley Brewery has to offer, while beermakers do their thing in the background. Or pick up some bottles for takeaway.
Experience SE4’s creative side every June at the Brockley Street Art Festival, when virtually every shopfront gets its own unique design. Even the launderette ends up looking stylin’.
And if you only do one thing…
The ’50s-tastic Rivoli Ballroom needs to be seen to be believed. Take your pick from an old-school film screening, ’80s disco or big-name gig to experience it for yourself.