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Wandsworth area guide

Riverside pubs and restaurants, independent shops and a leafy Common, all to discover in Wandsworth

The Alma004.jpg
© Elisabeth Blanchet

Right by the Thames and also boasting its own common, Wandsworth is a bucolic little neighbourhood in south west London. It would be a shame not to make the most of that riverside location, so pull up a pew at one of many pubs or restaurants along the river. Alternatively, saunter around independent shops in Wandsworth Village or delve into the area’s rich past as a hub for artistic crafts and trades at the Wandsworth Museum or De Morgan Centre.

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

Love London Awards: this year's winners

Ben's Canteen
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Ben's Canteen

An all-day brasserie and café Battersea, open for brunch through to dinner. There's a neighbourhood feel to things here, with a loyal local clientele making it their go-to hangout for weekend brunches, lazy long lunches and relaxed dinners. The brunch menu ranges from breakfast burritos, banana pancakes and full Englishes to sweetcorn fritters, toasties, burgers and Ben's smokey caesar salad - it's dressed in the house BBQ sauce. The burgers feature on the evening menu too, but are accompanied by small plates such as pulled pork nachos, calamari chips, chorizo with aioli and a mac'n'cheese scotch egg. Indulgent desserts - think chocolate and peanut brownie with peanut butter ice cream - do brisk business. Keep an eye out for special evenings, too. They currently include a collaboration with the Meantime Brewery (Meantime Mondays), a night dedicated to ribs, and a Saturday night burger offer. There's a loyalty card scheme, too.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Flotsam & Jetsam
Restaurants

Flotsam & Jetsam

Venue says: “Passionate about coffee? We hold fun, evening 'barista basic' courses each month. Find out more and book your spot via our website.”

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Shopping

Southside Shopping Centre

A shopping centre in Wandsworth, with a TK Maxx, Primark, New Look, Wagamama, GBK, Boots, Waitrose and a Cineworld.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Attractions

Wandsworth Common

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Cat's Back
Bars and pubs

Cat's Back

There’s a focus on quality ale at this dinky Victorian boozer between Wandsworth and Putney – it’s even got a gong from Camra to prove it. It’s not all about the booze though - expect decent food, cocktails, wines and a bunch of special events, too. The beer list goes big on Harvey’s, with Sussex Best, Old Ale, Wild Hop, Armada and seasonal guests on rotation, plus continental lagers, Guinness and Thatcher’s Gold on draught. A solid selection of whiskies and bourbons should keep those partial to a wee dram happy. The regularly changing food menu ranges from small plates of sausage rolls with homemade piccalilli or cheese and onion tartlets to larger plates of smoked chorizo and avocado salad, roast beef and ale pie or penne pasta with a homemade rocket and parmesan pesto. Cheeseboards and charcuterie platters are available, too.

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

Restaurants in Wandsworth

Chez Bruce
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Chez Bruce

Like a well-cut blazer, Chez Bruce may not be especially original, but it is largely reliable. In 2010 the restaurant expanded into the neighbouring site, but little changed (apart from the increased seating), and not much has altered since. With a pale colour scheme, tasteful framed art on the walls, proper glassware and staff in crisp shirts and ties, the look is a study in classic (if slightly dated) restaurant decor. The cooking is equally timeless, led decisively by the French school (foie gras, côte de boeuf), without much deference to culinary fads. Rillettes of wild sea trout, dill and crème fraîche were accompanied by a mouthful of smoked eel and a wide array of edible garnishes – from Lilliputian dices of apple to sprigs of watercress – to produce a plate of food that looked as good as it tasted. Tender, slow-cooked calf’s cheek served with golden braised sweetbreads and perfectly al dente baby vegetables was no less impressive. Only a dessert of cloyingly sweet caramel topped with two mousses (milk chocolate, salted caramel) and pieces of honeycomb was uncharacteristically misjudged. The formal service was also a touch over-attentive. Our advice? Immerse yourself in the wine list – one of the finest (and best value) in the capital – and any minor slip-ups will quickly be forgotten.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Fish Club
Restaurants

Fish Club

Though your waistband might complain, your conscience need not as all the fish at this great little London chippy are sustainably sourced, with coley topping the bill. And that ethical alternative to haddock and cod is popular for good reason: it more than passed muster, with flaky and tender flesh beneath a perfect honey-coloured batter. The twice-fried chips were good too: chunky yet crisp. Perhaps the chilli and garlic sauce on our whole bream was a little overpowering, but only because the fish beneath was delicately fresh, and in no need of adornment. Potted crab, smoked sprats and meat pies take their place on the menu alongside the likes of beetroot salad, beer-battered halloumi and sweet-potato chips, making for an interesting mix of the modern and the retro. Only the unsubtle aquarium-style decor misses the mark – but you’ll be enjoying your fish too much to notice.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Urban Gourmet
Restaurants

Urban Gourmet

By Tania Ballantine Barely bigger than a postage stamp, this café-deli only has a dozen seats, but it punches well above its weight. Gourmet groceries come from near and far: organic bread from the Celtic Bakers; truffled Salami from Italy; and ‘Silent Slasher’ bottled beer, from a brewery called (yes, you guessed it), Dorset Piddle. Urban Gourmet’s also one of the few places in the capital to find Bookhams’, a British rennet-free ‘parmesan’. Special dietary needs are certainly well catered for, with vegan savoury pastries and gluten-free cakes (lemon semolina, say). Yet the sell-out item (from Surrey cake-maker Flossy Cockles), is one of pure decadence: a double-decker chocolate ganache cake, fully encased in Maltesers. Owner Elizabeth Bell is an ex-Sydneysider who now calls Battersea home. On our visit, she was bustling away in the kitchen, popping out every so often to check the customers were happy. We were. Our ‘Greek’ salad was more a homage to Aussie Greek cooking than anything you’d find in the Aegean, but was zingy and full-flavoured nonetheless, combining crumbly, salty feta; chunky ripe tomatoes; and gutsy green olives with a tumble of lettuce, basil and parsley. We also enjoyed a warmly spiced spinach and lentil soup, served with dinky slices of terrific olive bread. Only a veggie pasty (billed as a 'samosa'), with its dry pastry and underseasoned filling, showed a momentary blip in proceedings. Urban Gourmet may be small, but on the whole, it’s beautiful.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Marco Polo
Restaurants

Marco Polo

This is very much a place to lunch on a summer’s day. Part of a new development off the Putney Bridge Road, it has extensive multi-level outdoor terraces with smart canopies, pretty planting and views across the river. Local friends and online comments had led us to rein in expectations as to service and quality of food, but we were pleasantly surprised by both. Despite a huge party arriving to fill a long table near ours, we had nothing but the most attentive friendly service throughout. Our starters were a totally delicious calamari fritti and a carpaccio cipriani, the latter very attractively plated, with a tent of parmesan shavings keeping the tasty beef slices cool. Spaghetti granchio (with crab) was pretty good but, although perfectly pleasant, the saltimbocca alla romana was distinctly odd, not tasting much like veal and with no evidence of sage or parma ham. Crespelle marco polo (crisp pancakes filled with mascarpone, chocolate, crushed amaretti and Tia Maria) and a quite perfect crème brûlée, together with the last glass of our Rovereto Gavi (£27), finished our Thameside reverie on a high note. Keep an eye out for attractive discounts offered online.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars

Things to do in Wandsworth

Wandsworth Museum
Things to do

Wandsworth Museum

This community museum celebrates the social and cultural history of Wandsworth, paying tribute to the traditional and contemporary skills of locals through artefacts and art works. Relaunched in September 2010, the museum features gallery and exhibition spaces, an audio-history archive, research library, community spaces, gardens and a café. Artefacts on show include the fossil of a woolly mammoth found at Battersea Power Station and a chieftan's shield, discovered in the Thames at Battersea Bridge.

De Morgan Centre
Things to do

De Morgan Centre

Re-opening after refurbishment on September 16 2011, the De Morgan Centre is dedicated to the Victorian ceramic artist William De Morgan and his wife Evelyn, a symbolist painter. There are around 250 objects on display including William De Morgan's 'Blackbird Bottle' (1888-1907), which reflects the Victorian fascination with the Middle East in terms of form and decoration, and his iconic 'BBB' thistle tile (1872-1904), which was produced in a range of colourways throughout De Morgan's career. 

Bars and pubs in Wandsworth

Alma
Bars and pubs

Alma

A landmark Young’s pub and rightly so, the large, Victorian-era Alma serves punters of all stripes gathered around a low, island bar. Some perch on barstools, others at tables nearer the windows: most will be gawping at the large, pull-down screen for big matches. Outside of these magic 90 minutes plus stoppages, the Alma attracts ale fans eager to sample Sambrook’s Wandle, Wells Bombardier or something from the regular Young’s range. Bar food is another plus: deli boards of cured meats, honey-and-mustard chipolatas, burgers with brie and bacon. For finer dining, head to the adjoining restaurant for the likes of honey-glazed Gressingham duck breast. If you don’t want to leave at chucking-out time, then stay: there are 23 hotel rooms here.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Cat's Back
Bars and pubs

Cat's Back

The land around the Cat’s Back is increasingly given over to modern residential developments, but this wonderful, bohemian community pub continues to plough its own singular furrow; it’s the kind of eccentric, genuinely alternative place that’s all too rare in this corner of the city. Locals gather conspiratorially round the cosy main bar, a fire-warmed cabin decked out with intriguing tat: photographs of Terry-Thomas, a Christmas greetings card from Robson-era Ipswich Town, a Johnny Suede poster and, in opposite corners, a piano and an acoustic guitar. The real ales might include Hepworth Dark Horse mild and Sambrook’s Wandle; eight wines are all sold by the glass. That whirr you hear in between three-minute snatches of indie din is a dumb waiter, lowering the likes of lamb kofta or rib-eye steak; you can also eat in an upstairs room where live bands play amid Nick Cave prints and vintage artwork. The cat’s miaow, and no mistake.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Grand Union Wandsworth
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Grand Union Wandsworth

Wandsworth pub/restaurant serving burgers, pizzas, ribs and chicken wings during the day. By night the venue becomes more of a bar with cocktails and DJs until late.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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The East Hill
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The East Hill

The East Hill sits in the heart of South London in Wandsworth; a homely country pub inspired by long weekends at the country estate (we wish!).With comfy leather sofas, walls lined with bookcases, rustic wooden scrubbed tables and armchairs in which to sink into, The East Hill channels a relaxed vibe, perfect for anyone wishing to seek refuge from the hustle and bustle of SW18.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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