Good old Berm, with its working-class roots, its foodie rep and its penchant for craft beer in railway arches and high-proof cocktails in Victorian basements. If you’re not lucky enough to live or work round here, you’ll want to visit so you can eat well and get sauced. And Bermondsey Street is at the centre of it all.
In earlier centuries, Bermondsey was big on food production (being near the Thames, where the imports came in) as well as leatherwork and tanning. Now on Bermondsey Street you’re more likely to find pitted olives, media types, design studios and street art. The swanky, glass-fronted destination restaurants (some with history-nodding names like Tanner & Co) are as big a draw as the street’s booming drinks micro-scene, which spills into boozy brunches on mornings after.
But although it’s fond of a drink or six, Bermondsey Street isn’t a 3am warzone like Shoreditch: its bars are classily laidback and interspersed with pretty old churches and green spaces. Its villagey vibe is especially apparent at the annual Bermondsey Street Festival, run every September by community volunteers, offering street food, live music, maypole dancing and a dog show. It’s not at all what you’d expect in the shadow of The Shard.
Squid ink croquetas and fresh, fat, orange-stuffed olives at the very-classy-indeed tapas bar José.
Bottomless Sunday lunch on pommel-horse benches at the old-school-gym-inspired Tanner & Co.
Crab mac ’n’ cheese at Village East, a New York-inspired Bermondsey Street institution.
Classic French fare at Casse-Croûte: it’s wonderfully Gallic.
A G&T flight at 214 Bermondsey, where there are more than 100 different gins (including local ones).
A fucking great flat white at sweary-but-friendly café Fuckoffee.
An omu cooler (the new negroni) at new, sustainable bar Nine Lives, round the corner on Holyrood Street. The bartenders here waste nothing: even the lemon pith becomes liqueur, hand soap or compost for the herb garden.
Local beer in the garden at The Woolpack, which provides outdoor drinkers with blankets if it’s chilly.
An ‘Anchorman’-inspired ‘I Love Lamp’ cocktail, with cashew-infused bourbon and rosemary bitters, at The Hide Bar.
Hone your serve at the free, no-booking tennis courts in Tanner Street Park. Roger Federer and Serena Williams have graced the hard courts here.
Be sartorially inspired at the fittingly orange and fluoro pink Fashion and Textile Museum.
Catch an arthouse movie at Shortwave, a 52-seat indie cinema just down on Bermondsey Square.
Impress your boozy friends after taking an evening class at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
Reclaimed industrial metal table lamps and other one-off homewares at Bermondsey 167.
Beans for your Aeropress from The Watch House coffee shop. In a former life it was a hangout for nineteenth-century guards protecting the churchyard graves.
And if you only do one thing…
Catch an exhibition for free at White Cube, with its blocky Berlin-style exterior and bright, white interior. It’s currently hosting ‘Dreamers Awake’, a mind-bending show of surrealist-influenced women artists.