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Bermondsey area guide

Walk along the Thames or hit Bermondsey Street and find the best restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do

Celia Topping / Time Out

Once an important part of London’s river trade, Bermondsey sat derelict for several decades, until the area’s wharves were renovated in the 1980s. Now its a lively part of town, with some exceptionally good restaurants and coffee houses, although they can sometimes be a bit tricky to find. Bermondsey also has plenty of excellent bars and pubs, usually packed to the brim with visitors and regulars. Bermondsey can turn Londoners into tourists: The Scoop in particular attracts both out-of-towners and locals to its free quality events.

What are your favourite Bermondsey haunts? Let us know in the comments.

The best bits of Bermondsey

Negronis, indoor climbing and doughnuts: it's the best bits of Bermondsey
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Negronis, indoor climbing and doughnuts: it's the best bits of Bermondsey

Beer, markets and foodie delights: Bermondsey is buzzing. What’s the vibe? Once a slum area and the backdrop for Dickens’s 'Oliver Twist', today Bermondsey has been transformed into a post-industrial dream, boasting more galleries, restaurants and pubs than you could ever need.   Sounds delicious, where do I start? Bermondsey Street is the main artery and you’re spoilt for choice. For sandwiches and sweet things pop into B Street Deli and ogle at the rows of salami and heaps of pongy cheeses. Further along you’ll find tiny French eatery Casse-Croûte with its menu of Gallic classics. Other hits include Zucca for elegant Italian fare, and rustic Spanish bar-eaterie José (set up by José Pizarro).   How about a drink? The area has become synonymous with craft beer. Connoisseurs of all things hoppy have been flocking to London’s new brewing heartland around Druid Street, where six microbreweries have made the railway arches their home. If you’re so inclined you can visit each - Kernel, Fourpure, Brew by Numbers, Partizan, Anspach & Hobday and Southwark - on a Saturday. Want a more traditional drinking spot? The Angel (Bermondsey Wall) offers beer with a view, where you can enjoy a bevvy with the Thames flowing beneath your feet. Alternatively there’s The Royal Oak (Tabard Street), a quiet Victorian watering hole that’s just the right mix of scruffy and charming.        Enough of drinking. Where can I go for some culture? White Cube opened its expansive exhibitio

What to eat at Druid Street Market
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What to eat at Druid Street Market

There’s a new market in town and it’s making us drool. Druid Street Market launched in July, and is strolling distance from nearby Maltby Street and Bermondsey markets. Taking place every Saturday from 9-4pm, this new fella offers up a mix of regular traders as well as guest spots and the odd cookbook signing. The market rather whimsically takes place beneath the Bermondsey railway arches and is the brainchild of Toast Magazine's Miranda York. We think this latest addition makes it official; Southwark is London’s prime borough for weekend guzzling. Here are the Druid Street stalls you’re most likely to find us at this Saturday - and probably every Saturday for the foreseeable future. <img id="92e5c69e-b44d-bdba-9386-3bc6fbaaaf7d" data-caption="Weligama" data-credit="" data-width-class="" type="image/jpeg" total="2216037" loaded="2216037" image_id="102853061" src="http://media.timeout.com/images/102853061/image.jpg" class="photo lazy inline"> Weligama   Weligama Never heard of a hopper? Now’s your chance to dive headfirst into one of these vibrant Sri Lankan pancakes heaped with eggs, coconut and spices and topped with chilli salt. These babies are cooked up by Ducksoup veteran Emily Dobbs, who describes the snack as a ‘a flavour bomb’. This is the only hopper pop-up in London right now, but we smell a new craze in the works…   <img id="daf27043-cb06-ff76-408e-d74c5c6aecc7" data-caption="Butter Culture" data-credit="" data-width-class=

Five great Bermondsey breweries to check out
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Five great Bermondsey breweries to check out

Railway arch microbreweries with a BYO food policy are the name of the game on the Bermondsey Beer Mile. If you're a fan of top-notch craft beer, here are five you should check out. Photograph by Michael Kelly | Courtesy of The Kernel  The Kernel If you've never tried anything from the original Bermondsey brewery, add its Citra IPA or Chinook Pale Ale to your spring beer list. Unlike its brewing brothers, The Kernel opens its doors solely as a bottle shop on Saturdays from 9am to 2pm, allowing the brewery to focus on what it does best. Courtesy of Brew By Numbers Brew By Numbers Brew By Numbers founders Dave Seymour and Tom Hutchings met in Asia. On their return to the UK, Dave started homebrewing, while Tom – an old friend of Toby from The Kernel – was drinking their craft beer, wondering how he could do something even better. Along came Brew By Numbers in 2011. Their numbering system is distinctive – the first two numbers refer to the style of beer (saison, porter, IPA, etc.), while the second two denote the specific recipe and hop variations. If that sounds confusing, don't worry – everything they brew is utterly delicious. Courtesy of Fourpure Brewing Co Fourpure Brewing Co Fourpure was founded in 2013 by brothers Daniel and Thomas Lowe. In 2014, it became the first British brewery to can its beers – a move that's slowly becoming the industry standard. They've just launched their new brew, Flatiron, a moreishly malty red ale.  Courtesy of Partizan

Why a foodie must walk down: Bermondsey Street and Square
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Why a foodie must walk down: Bermondsey Street and Square

Bloggers What Dad Cooked share the best bits of their favourite foodie streets in the capital.  In the shadow of the Shard lies Bermondsey Street and Square – two strips full of restaurants, bars and cafés. We like it for its contradictions: it’s hyper-trendy, but still rough round the edges; über-cool and modern, yet oozing history. Gentrification is running amok but the independents are still hanging on. Here's why you should explore it this weekend.    Erik the moose at Hej Coffee There's excellent coffee Hej Coffee is a welcome bolt-hole from the over-concreted Bermondsey Square. The coffee and the food are excellent at Hej (order the 'viking balls', a WDC favourite), which brilliantly crams its space with scandi decor. This includes the very Swedish sculpture-in-residence Eric the Moose. Cocking a snook can be good for business. Elsewhere, the nearby Watch House is a favourite and sells luxury artisan coffee and food in its converted guardhouse. Further down the road you can order a cup of ‘shit storm’ (that’s coffee by the way) in the controversially named F*ckoffee.   Scarlet Rosita’s stall sells food that is gluten & wheat free, dairy & egg free with no added sugar or fat. Bermondsey Square’s markets are brilliant Bermondsey’s Friday market has always been a magnet for antique traders. They famously set-up at 4am – a tradition harking back to a time when they could legally sell ‘dodgy’ goods before sunrise. On Saturdays the Square hosts a farmer

Restaurants in Bermondsey

Zucca
Restaurants

Zucca

A couple of pumpkins on the open kitchen counter reference the restaurant’s name and provide a touch of warmth to Zucca’s super-sleek interior. Gentle refurbishment has seen hard surfaces softened and, with light streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the room has a sophisticated Sydney vibe. Eat at the bar and you’ll look awkwardly conspicuous to the roomful of people behind; it’s best to book a table in advance. Our meal was mostly good. Own-made breads were followed by burrata with broad beans in a garlicky dressing, and clean-tasting spider crab served prettily in its shell. The own-made pasta is superb and a sweetly earthy sauce of lentils, walnuts and basil was entirely successful; cod with chickpeas was dull by comparison. Service was initially brisk but ran out of steam through dessert; we were there a good 30 minutes longer than we needed to be. The wine list has many admirable bottles but, despite a proliferation of maps, is generally unhelpful and starts at an elitist £26 a bottle – that’s how much Bermondsey has changed in the past decade. Zucca’s owners plan an offshoot for the site next door: Farina will focus on pizza and ice-cream.

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

José

José Pizarro (formerly co-founder and head chef of Brindisa) has done a fine job here of creating a very genuine, slightly rustic local Spanish bar. The decor is plain brick, timbers and tiles; seating is mostly on stools, with barrels to stand glasses on; and there’s a no-bookings, doors-wide-open attitude, albeit while being firmly planted in trendified Bermondsey. This, his TV appearances and books have cemented his position as the most prominent Spanish chef in Britain, but what stands out here is his expert attention to sourcing and getting the basics right, ahead of culinary adventurism. You won’t find any great innovations, but you will be treated to perfect, fantastically fresh renderings of the kind of classic traditional tapas that are too often let down by routine reheated preparation, such as crisp-outside, creamy-within croquetas, deep-flavoured tortilla and saltily bittersweet padrón peppers. Prawns came perfectly flash-fried in powerful but never overpowering garlic and chilli, and the renowned Ibérico ham and other meats are from Maldonado, one of Spain’s most esteemed artisan producers. Wines cover a desirable fine-quality range, all available by the (well-priced) glass. The admirably unflustered staff are experts in space management, but we wonder how long a place so regularly packed can stay in such a small setting.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
The Maltings Café
Restaurants

The Maltings Café

The Maltings Café is a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Located on the south side of the Tower Bridge in London, this chic, chilled venue serves up simple and delicious Mediterranean dishes alongside an extensive old world wine list. The sunny, friendly dining room – with blond wood floors, vanilla-hued lamps and exposed brick walls – is popular with both locals and city types for business lunches and intimate evening meals, and the daily menu is prepared with the finest ingredients using authentic regional recipes. We love the Napoli sausages served with canellini beans and sage; the linguine with meatballs, tomatoes and parmesan cheese; and the grilled squid served with lemon.

La Grotta Ices
Restaurants

La Grotta Ices

Kitty Travers’ tiny ice cream van is an unassuming vehicle for a range of unusual ices, with flavours that defy all conventions. She can usually be found pitching up at Bermondsey’s Maltby Street on Saturday mornings; the ‘menu’ frequently changes depending on what ingredients Travers has sourced (direct from farmers, from contacts or from foraging herself) during the week, while milk and crème fraîche come from Ivy House Farm. Elderflower, cucumber and sour cream, blackcurrant custard and peach leaf ice creams have all featured at some point – while a pink gooseberry and hazelnut crumble offering is one of her newer creations. Check www.lagrottaices.tumblr.com for updates and locations.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars

Bermondsey highlights

Design Museum
Museums

Design Museum

Opened in 1989 (following its original incarnation as the Boilerhouse established in the V&A by Terence Conran), the Design Museum by Tower Bridge encompasses modern and contemporary industrial and fashion design, graphics, architecture and multimedia. The smart Blueprint Café has a balcony overlooking the Thames. You can buy design books in the museum shop, as well as products related to the exhibitions. Exhibitions are usually accompanied by a programme of workshops for children.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
The Scoop
Things to do

The Scoop

An outdoor ampitheatre poistioned in between London and Tower Bridge, The Scoop plays host to all manner of activities and entertainment - from daily get fit classes to dance and theatre.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
HMS Belfast
Attractions Buy tickets

HMS Belfast

Europe's largest cruiser from WWII, HMS Belfast is now a floating naval museum, a landmark on the Thames near Tower Bridge, with its nine huge decks, including gun turrets, punishment rooms and an operating theatre. 'HMS Belfast in War and Peace' tells the story of the HMS Belfast from her inception in the mid-1930s to the decision to save her for the nation in 1971. Original artefacts, documents, plans and drawings (as well as contemporary paintings, photographs, models and audio-visual displays) give a detailed account of the life and times of the warship and the men who served in her.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Buy tickets
Maltby Street Market
Shopping

Maltby Street Market

During the summer of 2010, a quiet bubble of gastronomic intent was swelling under the railway arches in Bermondsey. This unlikely south-east London backwater quickly became a popular destination for a Saturday morning wander with a bit of grocery shopping along the way. A few years on, many new traders have got involved, the recently Ropewalk has become a full-on street market, and some of the original bunch have moved down the road to Spa Terminus. Find out about the gastronomic delights that await beneath the arches. Ropewalk is now open 9am-4pm Sat and 11am-4pm Sun but Spa Terminus is still strictly Saturdays only (around 9am-2pm for most producers), so that’s the day to take it all in. Statisfy your appetite at more of London's food markets

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars

Bars and pubs in Bermondsey

Hide Bar
Bars and pubs

Hide Bar

The Hide Bar has ridden out the credit crunch with aplomb, filling to the gills from Thursdays onward with nine-to-fivers happy to be sinking quality mixed drinks near a transport hub. Most cocktails are priced in the £6.50 to £7 range, including house specials such as the Passionate Englishman (Hendrick’s gin stirred with passion fruit purée), the Bermondsey Martini (Jensen’s gin and Noilly Prat) and the American in London (Knob Creek bourbon infused with Earl Grey tea, peach liqueur, Peychaud’s bitters and sweet vermouth). Seventy-odd other options are available, drawn from a selection of spirits that would put most bars in London to shame (and all sold by the glass to boot). Wines are equally well sourced: you won’t find Mezcala tinto (a Bordeaux-style Mexican blend) in too many places. There are a few mains but the platters are more intriguing – the Southbank pairs soft-shell crabs, stuffed baby squid and gravadlax with mango, mint and tomato salsa.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Woolpack
Bars and pubs

Woolpack

The Woolpack is a down-to-earth alternative to the Garrison opposite, even if its website witters on about ‘unwinding in the heart of bohemian Bermondsey’. The location is prosaic – a side street branching off from the London Bridge rail estuary – but that shouldn’t detract from what’s a quality two-floor pub-restaurant. Beer-wise, you’ll find the likes of Kirin Ichiban, Leffe and Thwaites Nutty Black, while the dozen-strong wine list (by the glass and bottle) includes a few unusual offerings. Mains are of the beer-battered haddock and chips or Cumberland sausage and mash variety, and cost around a tenner. The smaller, tiled downstairs space feels lived-in and traditional, while upstairs is even more relaxed.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Mayflower
Bars and pubs

Mayflower

Dating back to 1620, the Mayflower certainly looks the part: appearing suddenly along the Thames path, its white and black-timbered frontage set with diamond-leaded windows positively oozes tradition. Inside, beyond the counter, the small main bar area (cosy alcoves, open fire) leads to a deck outside at the rear. So far, so apparently authentic, but the prices tagged both to the drinks (a fairly uninspiring selection of beers punctuated by the odd real ale) and the food (fish a speciality of sorts) are pure 21st century, and the nagging suspicion of being in a tourist trap is hard to shake off. For all that, the pub has been a thriving local over the years: in the front room, brass plaques on the back of the dark wooden seats commemorate deceased regulars and serve as a testament to the loyalty that the Mayflower once inspired. A waterfront terrace makes up for any disappointment.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Boot & Flogger
Bars and pubs Buy tickets

Boot & Flogger

‘JHn. Davy Free Vintner’ reads the sign on the wall of an empty Borough side street, above an 071 number. It may as well read ‘Southwark 1184’ for all the modernity present within. ‘Hello, Sir,’ calls out Peter Common from behind a hatch as you enter, admiring the beautiful wood-panelled interior and occasional finely upholstered chair amid the wooden ones. A bowl of water biscuits awaits on the counter, where the promise of rare sirloin and cured ox tongue cold cuts is chalked up alongside game pie and fresh Newlyn crab meat, white only. The wine selection is concise: affordable house French red or white among a dozen by the glass; another dozen half-bottles; and a premium list of limited-availability reds and magnums of claret. A sign says that the Boot & Flogger offers ‘port, sherry and Madeira direct from the wood’; but alas, the glasses (around £4.50) are no longer filled from the cask. Among the decorative pictures is a notice calling for men to join the Light Brigade; indeed, this is the kind of place officers would have gathered before the fateful journey to the Crimea.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Buy tickets
See more bars and pubs in Bermondsey

The perfect weekend in Bermondsey

Eat: Maltby Street Market
Shopping

Eat: Maltby Street Market

Gorge on gourmet street food in a bustling marketplace

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
See: White Cube Bermondsey
Art

See: White Cube Bermondsey

Contemporary works from cutting edge artists

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Drink: Five great Bermondsey breweries
Blog

Drink: Five great Bermondsey breweries

Sip the day away at railway arch microbreweries

See: Fashion and Textile Museum

See: Fashion and Textile Museum

Exhibitions with both style and substance

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Buy tickets

Love London Awards: last year’s winners

José
Restaurants

José

José Pizarro (formerly co-founder and head chef of Brindisa) has done a fine job here of creating a very genuine, slightly rustic local Spanish bar. The decor is plain brick, timbers and tiles; seating is mostly on stools, with barrels to stand glasses on; and there’s a no-bookings, doors-wide-open attitude, albeit while being firmly planted in trendified Bermondsey. This, his TV appearances and books have cemented his position as the most prominent Spanish chef in Britain, but what stands out here is his expert attention to sourcing and getting the basics right, ahead of culinary adventurism. You won’t find any great innovations, but you will be treated to perfect, fantastically fresh renderings of the kind of classic traditional tapas that are too often let down by routine reheated preparation, such as crisp-outside, creamy-within croquetas, deep-flavoured tortilla and saltily bittersweet padrón peppers. Prawns came perfectly flash-fried in powerful but never overpowering garlic and chilli, and the renowned Ibérico ham and other meats are from Maldonado, one of Spain’s most esteemed artisan producers. Wines cover a desirable fine-quality range, all available by the (well-priced) glass. The admirably unflustered staff are experts in space management, but we wonder how long a place so regularly packed can stay in such a small setting.  

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
The Watch House
Restaurants

The Watch House

A coffee house and café serving artisan roasts, sandwiches and salads. 

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Maltby Street Market
Shopping

Maltby Street Market

During the summer of 2010, a quiet bubble of gastronomic intent was swelling under the railway arches in Bermondsey. This unlikely south-east London backwater quickly became a popular destination for a Saturday morning wander with a bit of grocery shopping along the way. A few years on, many new traders have got involved, the recently Ropewalk has become a full-on street market, and some of the original bunch have moved down the road to Spa Terminus. Ropewalk is now open 9am-4pm Sat and 11am-4pm Sun but Spa Terminus is still strictly Saturdays only (around 9am-2pm for most producers), so that’s the day to take it all in.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
White Cube Bermondsey
Art

White Cube Bermondsey

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
See the full results of last year's Love London Awards

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