This very urban slice of south London abuts genteel West Dulwich on one side and flows up and over the hill into Streatham on the other. At one end, under-appreciated Tulse Hill sits huddled around the train station and the South Circular’s one-way system, its Victorian terraces and light-industrial units housing glass-blowers and other local artisans. At the other end, slightly raised above the dust of Norwood Road and still exhibiting signs of its grander Victorian past, is West Norwood, dominated by Grade II-listed St Luke’s Church and the 40-acre South Metropolitan Cemetery (one of London’s ‘magnificent seven’). The long straight stretch of Norwood Road linking the two is where you’ll find the workaday shops along with an impressively multicultural selection of cafés. The classic middle-class catnip (organic cafés, gastropubs, vinyl stores, interiors shops) is up in the Knight’s Hill triangle around the church and station (roughly 20 minutes into Victoria) and served by plenty of buses.
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Restaurants in West Norwood
Bars and pubs in West Norwood
Designer Claudio Silvestrin’s showcase modernist restaurant is highly memorable, though not perhaps entirely as intended. At peak times, noise in the glass, porphyry and limestone interior can be overwhelming, and staff have to dance round the large white leather and chrome chairs to catch anything softer than a bellow. The food, however, is often sublime, carefully sourced and skilfully prepared. Beef tagliata was a beautiful construct atop a marrow bone pillar, and its magliocco sauce a pure essence of beefiness. Tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and truffle appeared artless by contrast, but once again the flavours were resonant, yet subtle. Chard and soft cheese tortelli with toasted hazelnuts was a perfect marriage of flavour and textural contrasts. These creations come at City expense-account prices, so any disappointment is irksome – a crab and asparagus starter, while delightfully fresh, was scant and not shell-free. Then again, the set menu with its verdant soup and palate-teasing liquorice zabaglione seemed a bargain. Wines run the gamut from cheery glassful to splash-out showcase, and staff serve even the most modest orders with grace and flair. A special request produced the proud claim: ‘We are Italian, we can do anything.’ Except, perhaps, soften the acoustics.