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Barnes area guide

Find out what Barnes has to offer with Time Out's guide to its best pubs, restaurants and things to do

Ben Rowe

Barnes lives up to its semi-rural, villagey reputation, isolated from the rest of South London by the huge sweep of the Thames. At its centre is a large duck pond and adjoining green (site of a popular annual midsummer fair), surrounded by a mix of independent shops, great pubs, like Ye White Hart and restaurants, such as Orange Pekoe and Annie's. To the south is the buffer zone of wild and wooded Barnes Common, while the London Wetland Centre (an expansive bird reserve converted from defunct reservoirs) sits to the east of Castelnau, the long spine that leads to Hammersmith Bridge. Enclosing it all is a sharp loop of the Thames, offering riverside walks, pubs and rowers aplenty. 

Love London Awards: this year's winners

Olympic Café & Dining Room
Restaurants

Olympic Café & Dining Room

A new café and restaurant serving a predominantly seasonal British menu with European influences, and open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's part of the new Olympic Cinema complex, which has transformed the historic Olympic Studios in Barnes (legendary recording studios for the likes of the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix) into a brand-new cinema and private members' club. Open mid October.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Barnes Green
Attractions

Barnes Green

A lush bit of greenery with a duck pond.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Ye White Hart
Bars and pubs

Ye White Hart

Right on the river, this capacious barn of a bar makes best use of its prime location. It’s a Young’s pub, so it’s well looked after, providing the usual range of ales from the brewery stable, as well as reliably satisfying steak pies and Sunday roasts. What really brings in the punters, though, is the chance to sink into a chesterfield by the fire, or find a spot to stand on the river-view first-floor veranda, down a pint and talk about the rugby match that’s just played out on the big screen. On Boat Race day, the towpath resembles Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve, crowds packed around a hog roast and staff working like stevedores. On the other 364 days of the year, it’s busy but civilised, the dark-wood interior lending a slight sense of grandeur.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 2 out of 5 stars
See the full results of this year's Love London Awards

Restaurants in Barnes

Orange Pekoe
Restaurants

Orange Pekoe

In good weather, you can be sure the outdoor tables at this perennially popular café on the Barnes/Mortlake border will be taken. Probably the indoor tables too: Orange Pekoe isn’t big, but it is bright thanks to a skylight and white-painted brick walls, prettified with a few decorative teacups and some statement wallpaper. There are no seats in the front room, which is dominated by the coffee machine and a counter displaying cakes and sandwiches, alongside a wall lined with black and gold tea canisters. More than 50 loose-leaf teas (black, oolong, green, white, yellow) and herbal infusions are available to buy: from a house breakfast blend for around a fiver per 100g, to a premium Japanese green tea at over £30. However, a pot of any tea costs £3.90 – a brilliant way of trying out new or unusual varieties. Food is excellent, from breakfast goodies (pastries, granola with prune compote, assorted egg dishes) via lunchtime savouries (ploughman’s and vegetarian platters, a daily soup, tart and salad) to afternoon tea of plump scones and finger sandwiches with or without champagne. Pekoe Royal – two poached eggs on a toasted muffin with spinach leaves and a big heap of high-quality smoked salmon – was indeed a regal treat.  

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Riva
Restaurants

Riva

It’s just a short hop across the bridge from bustling Hammersmith, but Barnes’ village-like ambience is immediately relaxing. Riva has been serving the neighbourhood for 20-plus years and little has changed in that time. The small dining room, decorated in terracotta and olive tones, has a rustic, lived-in feel. The food sticks to simple traditions, and adventurous diners may need more persuasion than the plucky wine list to part with their cash, as prices are high and there are no set menus to alleviate the pain. We started with a tried-and-true combination of ravioli with crab and peas; for £13, we’d hoped for more than a few strands of crabmeat. Presentation is satisfyingly earthy, however; witness roast milk-fed lamb studded with rosemary and simply paired with cubes of roast potato.The maal concluded with a boozy crêpe served with prunes stewed in grappa. Reception from the owner was frosty, but the atmosphere soon thawed thanks to the friendly disposition of his waiting staff.  

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Book online

Annie's

A popular restaurant in Barnes, well known for its eclectic decor. 

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Depot
Restaurants Book online

Depot

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ could be the motto of this riverside restaurant, which continues serenely through its third decade. Originally part of the stables and coach house for Barnes Council refuse depot (hence the name), it’s a handsome spot, all gleaming wood, bare brick and striped banquettes, with a separate bar at one end.A skeleton boat hangs from the ceiling, and the window tables are much sought after (inevitably, the place is packed for the Boat Race). It caters for all kinds of diners, from loved-up couples to multi-generational family groups. The menu majors on comforting brasserie staples done well – bavette with chips and béarnaise, smoked chicken caesar salad, an exemplary fish cake – with the occasional inventive twist (goat’s cheese soufflé with saffron-poached pears) or seasonal ingredient (wild garlic). Desserts have always been a strong point: tangy lemon posset with blackberries and crumbly shortbread was a treat, but it’s the sticky, creamy, indulgent eton mess that always wins us over. Sunday roast lunch is something of a local tradition. Drinks run from cocktails to a fairly priced wine list, and there’s always some kind of set menu or special deal. Staff are friendly, but can get overwhelmed when the place is full.  

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Book online
See all restaurants in Barnes

Things to do in Barnes

London Wetland Centre
Attractions

London Wetland Centre

The London Wetland Centre is a 105-acre city wildlife area created by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the year 2000. The four disused Victorian reservoirs tucked into a loop in the Thames have been softened by landscaping and weathered by nature to become an extensive landscape of lagoons, islets and pastures. At intervals along the serene walkways are hides where you can perch on a bench, push open a small window and gaze at all manner of birds up close through your binoculars – kingfishers, falcons, herons, sandmartins and sparrowhawks are some of the species spotted here. The centre offers all sorts of other entertainment for all ages including guided walks and courses for those who want to learn more about the birdlife or the flora, bat-spotting walks, wildlife photography courses and pond-dipping sessions. There are lots of places to picnic and a café with an outdoor terrace.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Chiswick House & Gardens
Things to do

Chiswick House & Gardens

Chiswick House is a neo-Palladial building found very close to Barnes. It's architecture is sleek and very aesthetically pleasing, and the gardens are perfect for a little wander, especially when the sun's out. Make sure you pay a visit, it's worthwhile anytime of the year. An oasis in suburban London.

Bars and pubs in Barnes

Ye White Hart
Bars and pubs

Ye White Hart

Right on the river, this capacious barn of a bar makes best use of its prime location. It’s a Young’s pub, so it’s well looked after, providing the usual range of ales from the brewery stable, as well as reliably satisfying steak pies and Sunday roasts. What really brings in the punters, though, is the chance to sink into a chesterfield by the fire, or find a spot to stand on the river-view first-floor veranda, down a pint and talk about the rugby match that’s just played out on the big screen. On Boat Race day, the towpath resembles Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve, crowds packed around a hog roast and staff working like stevedores. On the other 364 days of the year, it’s busy but civilised, the dark-wood interior lending a slight sense of grandeur.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 2 out of 5 stars
Brown Dog
Bars and pubs

Brown Dog

Little changes at this gastropub in the backstreets of Barnes: from the cordial welcome to the pleasing decor to the well-judged menu. Chunky wooden tables and green leather banquette seating, stripped floorboards and cream panelling provide an upmarket yet friendly look; big windows make it bright by day, while copper globe lights and a polished red ceiling give a cosy glow at night. At the back is a sunny courtyard. There are two real ales and a decent wine list, but most customers are here to dine. Simplicity is key to the shortish menu, which makes a virtue out of unfussy seasonal dishes that require minimal preparation and have wide appeal – an approach other pubs could emulate. So you’ll find oysters, a half pint of prawns, dressed crab, steaks and straightforward fish dishes, with plenty of salads and chips. A succulent burger with fluffy chips, and leek and mushroom pie with smooth mash and crisp french beans – both hit the spot. Puds combine comfort and richness to pleasing effect, majoring in chocolate, seasonal fruit and top-notch ice-creams. If you’re in the West End, consider sister pub the Duke of Wellington in Marylebone. Design and vibe are similar to the Brown Dog’s, but turned up a notch, so the upstairs restaurant sports white tablecloths and a fancier menu.  

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Mawson Arms
Bars and pubs Book online

Mawson Arms

Notwithstanding a recent modest refit, little has changed at this pub for many a year. Key to its appeal is the location: down towards the Thames, a fair trek away from the nearest tube station, it’s in the shadow of the Fuller’s brewery, and thus plays host to many drinkers before and after tours of the grand old factory. Alongside the expected range of Fuller’s beers – Discovery, Honey Dew, London Pride and others – there’s also uncomplicated and cheap food: burgers, sandwiches, fish ’n’ chips, and an assortment of pies (steak and ale, chicken and leek). Note the unusual opening hours: maybe Edwardian licensing laws still apply to this most traditional of pubs.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Book online
Sun Inn
Bars and pubs

Sun Inn

Unlike some of its local rivals, the Sun Inn doesn’t enjoy a view of the Thames, but it’s got the next best thing: from the large front terrace, drinkers can gaze out on to Barnes Green and its village-like duck pond. The interior amplifies the old-fashioned nature of the place, with bar staff and customers on first-name terms in the cramped, low-ceilinged space. Although it feels like one of those City pubs rebuilt after the Great Fire, the Sun Inn doesn’t make much of its history but lets the drinks do the talking: ales such as Sharp’s Doom Bar, Adnams Wheat Beer and Timothy Taylor Landlord are all attractive finds on draught. There are a few treasures by the bottle, too, mainly Belgian: Duvel and Vedett, for example. Wines start with a cheapish but acceptable Italian at £13; tippling is encouraged over conversation with strangers on Wednesdays at the pub’s In Vino Veritas theme nights.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
See all bars and pubs in Barnes

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