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May 12, 2008 08:17 AM

Restaurant recs in Camberwell, South London?

Despite living just up the road, I've never actually been to any restaurants in Camberwell. On Friday we're going to see some jazz at a venue there and would like to eat beforehand.

Can anyone recommend somewhere good?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Sun and Doves - 61 Cold harbour Lane, Camberwell. Nice and informal.

    1. Camberwell's not, ahem, overly well-endowed with decent eating places... I'm a resident and tend to eat either in Herne Hill or East Dulwich, or at the Dragons Castle (up the Walworth Road at the Elephant). The Sun and Doves is a nice boozer, with a sweet garden (assuming we're still having some of this sun by Friday). Food's OK but nothing to write home about. There is, however, a very good Indian - Safa, on Camberwell Church St. Food is standard fare, but freshly cooked and properly seasoned, no pour over sauces - it's worth a punt. I hear the Dark Horse pub on Grove Lane (the bottom end by Camberwell Church St) is not bad. Good luck!

      8 Replies
      1. re: SpikeyD

        Thanks for this - I think we've decided to try Safa. Have you ever been to the Vietnamese cafe, Hoa Viet?

        I have to say I don't think Herne Hill's that good when it comes to restaurants either. I like the Prince Regent (my local), and Number 22, but I recently had very mediocre meals at both Lombok and Cafe Provencal.

        1. re: greedygirl

          My neck of the woods so here goes:

          Dark Horse: Can be excellent, can be poor, on the low priced menu tends to be the latter, but can be a truly good gastropub. Its hard to say what I think of it, I've been there and had a properly top notch meal(usually with belly pork), and I've been there and they've been happy to serve curdled bearnaise (I'm sure we can all screw a sauce, but I wouldn't send it out to a friend, let alone a paying customer, it is worrying) so can't recommend it. If you live here you'll go there, I'd say resist the fixed price menu and pay more for best chance of good value.

          The Bear: new place by the bus garage, haven't tried but looks good (not much of a guide I know, but in Camberwell, take what you can- you may not have noticed it so just letting you know!) I will be trying soon and will report back.

          HoaViet: I really don't like it, think its very ropey, flavours high when they shouldn't be, others disagree with me but I just don't go there now and am not exactly spoiled for choice. I know those high/offaly flavours can be viewed as authentic, but it doesn't do it for me, I'm not talking good clean offal, I'm talking both offal and high at the same time if you see what I mean. I don't like them, I've never been to SE Asia so accept I am no expert, but I don't like them, and I don't get those unpleasant flavours at the places on Kingsland Rd that others more experienced than I recommend (and I like).

          Safa: OK, nothing more, its a decent local Indian, its not actually freshly cooked most of the time, but curry microwaves ok, I say its a decent local option which it is, its better than a lot of local Indians, but personally I don't bother. (When I first moved to London, I was amazed that people will eat mediocre locally when there is potential excellence 30 minutes away on public transport for the same or even less, I vowed I would not fall into that, inevitably I have, but safa doesn't stack it against the great suncontinentals of our city, so I'd rather takeaway from...see below...)

          OK, so now my real personal recommendation:

          Silver lake: Its a takeaway not a restaurant, but it has some of the best malay/singapore dishes I've ever had (but see above note on my non-travel to the area). If it was a restaurant I'd be singing its praises on my blog, its better than Kiasu and several others that have had a lot of critical attention. Great owners, you can see the incredibly clean kitchen, full of suprisingly high end kit, the owners chat whilst all food is cooked fresh, I can't really recommend a takeaway to people outside the area, but since your in the area, Silver Lake is great. It looks pricey for a takeaway, but consider this- its been in business for years, looking quite pricey for a takeaway and yet doing well in camberwell. There's a reason why! haven't had a bum dish, Beef Rendang is top notch, but there's a lot of interest on the menu, and the owners will guide you through it.

          And another two that are not in the same league and are completely only for a local:

          tadim cafe also on church st: could not recommend anyone travel for this, but the owner is nice, its authentic, and the (albeit reheated in a microwave) lahmacun for £1.60 is my go-to meal- why cook when you can get good flatbread with well spiced lamb and a mountain of salad for that price? Also decent baklava, a bit expensive and a bit heavy on rosewater but a world better than the stuff you can get in the shops.

          taste london (or something like that, on Church St)- lebanese place, the owner is a star, really very friendly, the food is not truly top notch but I often go ther for a container of hoummous and one of moutabel, both are better than pre-packed, the latter especially is actually really good. I stress that its a local recommendation though-but they are worth your custom or they'll close.

          Sorry i am off on one now but the greek bakery opposite, great greek bread for 79p a loaf...

          I'm having to move from London soon, and this reminds me why I'll miss it, Camberwell, a gastronomic dead-end in London terms, would put the large town I'm moving to to shame.

          I'm not finished (sorrry to bore non-camberwellians):

          Mozzarella e pomadora: a better than average local trat, really quite decent.

          Nice n Spice Bakery- Corner of coldharbour lane and denmark hill. Never heard of it, read of it etc. before moving here, but noticed it has a huge queue every weekend. when i went there I saw this was mainly people going to buy their families entire sunday lunch then take it home to serve. There's a reason why. Its simple stuff, but of its type this odd little place is up there with any other jamaican place in the capital. Its all a bit disorientating and you can never be sure whats available but its always very good. Takeaway again so only good for brixton/camberwell/denmark hill dwellers.

          Aah-I've been waiting to get that out of my system: local prejudice may play a part, but honestly if silverlake was a restaurant it would deserve to be packed with people from all over the capital, its a takeaway, you're local, so take advantage!

          1. re: Iestyn Morgan

            just noticed, you live 'up the road' all you needed was one recomendation for Friday, presumably going to jazz in the crypt. I got carried away- my fault. You've decided on safa- it'll be fine, nothing more, my number one option not available as takeaway only. I'd say Fri night, the good chef will be in, pay full wack at dark horse, it should be a decent gastropub style meal.

            1. re: Iestyn Morgan

              Thanks very much for those recs. We don't get takeaway that much, but I'll definitely give Silver Lake a try. Although we live just up the road in Herne Hill (Brixton side), we don't really go to Camberwell for dinner for obvious reasons. I'm really bored with all the HH/Brixton places, so it will be nice to explore a bit. And you're quite right, we are going to Jazz at the Crypt.

              BTW, for Indian takeaway, we've quite enjoyed Zest of India, on Coldharbour Lane.

              1. re: greedygirl

                GG - Have you tried Gyoza on Coldhabour lane? I had a duck ramen which was one of the best ramens i've ever had, subtley spiced with a nice degree of heat, the duck was soft and tender. I was initially skeptical as it a Chinese/Japanese joint, so you can imagine my surprise!

                How about Amazonica on Brixton road?

                I'm yet to try the Mexican food at the Dogstar - lookign forward to it, so I hope it doesn't disappoint!

                Have you been to Olley's in Herne Hill?

                1. re: Nii

                  I've been to Gyoza a couple of times, but not for a while. It's one of Mr GG's regular lunch haunts. I remember it being quite nice but not fantastic, like a lot of places in the area. I haven't been to Amazonica but a friend of mine rates it.

                  I've heard very good things about the food at the Dogstar, but am always put off by the venue!#

                  Have been to Olley's in Herne Hill but again, not for a good while. There was a positive review on here not long ago though.

              2. re: Iestyn Morgan

                BTW, have you been to the new place opposite the Sun and Doves on Coldharbour Lane - used to be a boozer called The Plough?

              3. re: Iestyn Morgan

                Nice n spice bakery - I was trying to think of its name. I LOVE the jerk chicken at this place. They do some good cakes as well.