Forest Hill and Honor Oak area guide

Keep busy in SE23 with Time Out's guide to Forest Hill and Honor Oak's best restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do

Despite direct Overground links to Hoxton and Shoreditch, Forest Hill has resisted becoming studiously hip and remains a laidback area popular with artists and actors. Families benefit from one of London’s most eccentric and child-friendly museums, the Horniman (its gardens have some of the best views across London and a bijou farmers' market), and a new swimming pool and leisure centre.

Neighbouring Honor Oak – named after a tree in the nearby woods – is a bit of a ratrun but its Overground station has been attracting young professionals who are slowly adding a bit more life.

Love London Awards: this year's winners

Bona Sourdough
Restaurants

Bona Sourdough

A sourdough pizza joint that does cheese-less and tomato-less (bianca) versions too.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
St David Coffee House
Restaurants

St David Coffee House

The locals of SE23 really dig this cheerful, homely café in the centre of Forest Hill – and the owners feel the same way about them (their Twitter feed is one big genuine love-in with customers, the artwork decorating the walls is by a local and all for sale, and freelancers see their usual spot as a home from home). Coffee is St David’s passion and Square Mile Roastery its bean of choice – fans swear theirs is the best cup in London. The eclectic, inventive menu, meanwhile, sees you through from breakfast to afternoon cake, with brunch options spanning the likes of homemade lemon and maple granola, herb-strewn poached eggs or rib-sticking creamed corn served with hunks of sourdough bread, and a range of lesser-known sandwiches and toasties available to fill you up at lunchtime (try the deep-fried kale paired with rosemary with oozing Sardinian cheese). St David’s opens until late from Wednesday to Friday, with a raft of residencies providing the food – laksa Thursdays, run by South East Asian street-food outfit Nyonya London, are particularly popular.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
The Butchery Ltd
Shopping

The Butchery Ltd

A high street butchers with friendly staff and free range, dry aged, pasture-fed meat.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Horniman Museum
Things to do

Horniman Museum

An anthropological museum set in 16 acres of landscaped gardens, the Horniman has a traditional natural history gallery – dominated by a bizarre, overstuffed walrus – where the exhibits are displayed in traditional cases with no computer touch-screens in sight. There's also an aquarium, a permanent gallery dedicated to African, Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian art, and a collection of around 1,600 musical instruments, with an area where people can play some of them and a display ('At Home with Music') where historical keyboards, dating all the way back to a virginals from 1555, are on show. The museum provides extensive facilities for families, including a nature trail, weekend workshops and a hands-on base where children can touch museum objects. Nature Base explores the natural world with exhibits including the Horniman beehive. Read about our favourite exhibits at the Horniman or see more great museums for kids in the capital

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Sylvan Post
Bars and pubs

Sylvan Post

With retro and recycling being the flavours of the moment, how very on-trend of the Antic pub company to convert a former 1960s post office into their latest bar. Interesting spaces abound in this building, with back offices converted into a variety of kitsch snugs – my favourite being the one with the metal strong room door (presumably where bags of cash were stashed for paying out pensions and benefits). The main room has a European-beer-hall-meets-working-man’s-club vibe: cosy, low-lit banquette nooks to the side, while centre stage it’s all cheap formica tables and industrial-strength lino. A generous wooden bar emulates the original post office counter – albeit without the attack-resistant payment windows. A lively and mixed clientele seemed to be enjoying the great ska/indie soundtrack and excellent beers, from the likes of Meantime and Moor Beer Company. Sadly, the wine was uninspiring, and the food the wrong kind of retro: think school dinners circa 1970, that is, all lumpy mash, watery soup and chewy calf’s liver. The offer was marginally boosted by a half-decent burger and a surprisingly good pear and peach crumble, but we’d say this bar’s strictly for the beer drinkers.

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

Comments

2 comments
Georgie Tastemaker

My best friend has an obsession with One Tree Hill (the TV show), so for her birthday we took her to London's very own OTH down by Honor Oak so she could say she was IN One Tree Hill...

She didn't quite realise that is is actually a hill, so didn't wear appropriate footwear, but once we were at the top the foot pain subsided, we caught our breath back (it's actually quite steep and we are super unfit!) as we gazed at the London skyline which is outstanding! This is the Primrose Hill of the South, but with less people and a less convenient public transport service... but I loved it none the less. It might be my go-to picnic spot in the Summer!