Like that Stealers Wheel song, Lewisham Way is stuck in the middle. Stretching from New Cross past the imposing Goldsmiths College, it jostles through leafy St Johns, skims bougie Brockley and stops just short of Lewisham’s busy town centre. It’s not grand: aside from Goldsmiths you won’t find much ornate architecture here. It doesn’t have an illustrious history like neighbouring Deptford: Christopher Marlowe didn’t do much drinking along Lewisham Way. But what it does have, in bucketloads, is an offbeat and quirky spirit.
While New Cross and Lewisham have seen the arrival of chains and gastropubs, the Way retains its south-east London spirit. Strolling down the road is like wandering through a curiosity shop where you never know what you might find: you’ll pass the secret Stone House, built in 1773, a charming café posing as an appliance centre and a farmers’ market in a car park. Ten years ago a papier-mâché elephant looked down on the street from a dilapidated Victorian house-cum-squat (now demolished). Now, rumours are rumbling that beloved salvage yard Aladdin’s Cave is under threat of development.
But this is a street of resource and ingenuity: the kind of place where phone boxes are turned into mini libraries. Lewisham Way won’t give up its eccentricity without a fight.
A silky flat white from kooky café Birdie Num Nums. Head along for Sunday brunch and you might catch some live jazz with your meal.
A few jars at independent boozer The Fat Walrus, with a plate of its moreish popcorn halloumi.
A strong cuppa in quirky china at The Copper Tea. Its sign may say ‘New Cross Appliance Centre’, but rest assured there’s a tiny little café serving banging breakfasts behind those quaint floral curtains.
A glass of red wine with Rover at dog-friendly watering hole The Talbot, where poochy portraits line the walls and the pub owner’s dog is often to be seen.
The best bibimbap this side of the river at Korean joint Paranhodu.
Anything from the charcoal grill at buzzing Turkish restaurant Meze Mangal, with pide on the side.
A banging burrata pizza kneaded in front of you and stone baked at Pizza Verde.
Seriously special tapas and charcuterie washed down with beautiful organic wine at always-packed Spanish joint L’Oculto.
See an experimental gig (someone played a mop bucket as a drum the last time I came here), take in an exhibition or get stuck into a craft workshop at Lewisham Art House.
Join a weekend open day at Celia Hammond Animal Trust to meet loads of cuddly cats and kittens and maybe even give one a new home.
Squeeze into Lewisham Micro Library, a classic red phone box now housing shelves of books.
Cut some shapes to reggae classics at The Flower of Kent pub’s famous Thursday night Vinyl Meltdown.
A chandelier, odd pair of dining chairs, Victorian fireplace, jukebox or anything else you can imagine at the teeming Aladdin’s Cave.
Top-notch bits and bobs for your steed at independent bike shop Rad Bikes.
And if you only do one thing...
Hit up Brockley Market on a Saturday morning, when stalls selling artisan booze, wild game, fish, cheese, chocolate and hot food pop up in Lewisham Southwark College car park. Our tip: make a beeline for Kooky Bakes’s ‘pimped-up brownies’.