Sydenham used to be dismissed as a bit sleepy and suburban, but the addition of the Overground, and rising house prices in Zone 2, have tied it securely into central London. Locals no longer have to trek up to Forest Hill or Crystal Palace for a drink or a decent coffee; low-key cafés and independent shops have begun to congregate along Kirkdale (inevitably being rebranded ‘Kirkdale Village’ with a council-led facelift in the offing). Upper Sydenham, leading down from Sydenham Hill, benefits from having pretty Sydenham Wells Park as its focus, with big houses mixed in with estates. Other desirable addresses include Lawrie Park (pictured above, its vista once painted by Camille Pissarro) and the Edwardian conservation area of the 'Thorpes' next to Mayow Park.
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La Petite Bouchee
This Sydenham Well's Park venue is certainly a little different from your typical French brasserie in London. The reason? The dining room is the interior of a cute little 1971 Citroën HY van with room for just four. The food is classic brasserie fare – think moules Provencale, croque madames, salad Lyonnaise, roasted turbot with Provencal potatoes, beef carbonnade and French onion soup. Charcuterie and cheese feature, too. They also do private events and catering, should you like what they're up to.
Restaurants in Sydenham
Friends of Flavours
There's a firm focus on authenticity at this Italian restaurant in Penge, with regional dishes from across the boot on a menu that looks like it could be good value. It's served in a restaurant with leather banquettes, exposed brickwork and art for sale on the walls. Flora climbs climbers outside. The menu is classic Italian all the way. Expect, then, dishes ranging from bruschetta, calamari fritti and asparagus and ricotta ravioli to penne arrabiata, linguine con gamberoni, pollo alla Milanese and padellata del pescatore - sea bass fillet, prawns, squid and shellfish served with garlic bread. Kids menus also feature.