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Sydenham area guide

Explore SE26 with Time Out's guide to Sydenham's restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do

Lawrie Park Avenue, Sydenham 2015

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.

Love London Awards: this year's winners

La Petite Bouchee
Restaurants

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. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs

Sugahill Cafe

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

Restaurants in Sydenham

On the Hoof Bistro
Restaurants Book online

On the Hoof Bistro

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
The Calabash of Culture
Restaurants

The Calabash of Culture

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Gurkha's
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Gurkha's

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Friends of Flavours
Restaurants

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.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Things to do in Sydenham

Kirkdale Bookshop
Things to do

Kirkdale Bookshop

Bookshop and gallery of nearly half a century’s standing, selling new and second-hand books as well as greeting cards and gifts

Museums

Crystal Palace Museum

Thw Crystal Palace Museum tells the story of the Hyde Park and Sydenham Crystal Palaces.Tells the story of the Hyde Park and Sydenham Crystal Palaces.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars

Bars and pubs in Sydenham

Dolphin
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Dolphin

It’s worth coming here for the garden alone, a formal criss-cross of box, privet and gravel around a central water sculpture, edged by apple trees. The pub’s occasional cultural event programme means you may find live theatre taking place, or a string quartet playing inside. The menu is less adventurous, however, offering pretty standard contemporary pub grub. Our starters of scotch duck egg and mackerel pâté – creamy, almost mousse-like, nudged along by sour capers – were both well executed, but there was more fun to be had with a main course of grilled sardines on toast. The dish showed a kitchen unafraid to go simple and get it right: moist fish, crispy toast and cheekily piquant salsa verde made for perfect alfresco eating. Lamb kofta wasn’t quite as impressive – good meat but the flatbread was a little unhappy – and the unexceptional house white was pricey at £13.90 a bottle. However, the pub has a reasonable range of beers and lagers (Adnams, San Miguel), though it’s poor on perry and cider. Desserts – a nicely paired lemon posset with shortbread biscuit, and a treacle tart with crème fraîche – were more than fine, so we left happy.  

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Book online
Bars and pubs

Dulwich Wood House

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs

The Golden Lion

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Dartmouth Arms
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Dartmouth Arms

For many years a community boozer, the Dartmouth Arms underwent a refurbishment which stripped away years of aesthetic apathy and created a gastropub on a street formerly famous for its takeaways. The front bar is now a well-aired, sepia-tinted space perfect for chilling out over papers or free Wi-Fi, plus there's an adjoining 'snug bar' (the red walls of which boast exhibitions by local artists) and a rear dining room for lingering over affordable gastro fodder. Cocktails are just £5.50 (champagne cocktails £6.25) and there's an extensive wine list, but beers are limited: Brakspear and Bombardier for ale heads; Staropramen and Kronenbourg for lager lovers.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
See all bars and pubs in Sydenham