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[London] What's in Southwark?

  • Lina Mar 27, 2009 01:57 PM
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I'm thinking of moving to Southwark but know nothing about the area.

What's the food scene in the area around the tube? Any grocery stores nearby? Even better, any ethnic grocery stores nearby? Restaurants to try?

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  1. Some places I like:

    Closer to London Bridge:
    Vivat Bacchus -- very drinkable south african wine list, well made modern european food, a dedicated cheese room with well conditioned cheeses
    Magdalen -- modern british cooking, inconsistent, but I really enjoyed their offal plate
    Tito's -- fairly good Peruvian, totally worth going for some dishes (e.g. pato de aji - duck with a Peruvian chilli pepper sauce)
    Delfina -- excellent fusiony cooking, open only for lunch, and dinner on Fridays.

    There's the Borough Market as well.

    Closer to Borough:
    El Vergel -- for excellent chacereros, a Chilean sandwich
    Hiba -- a good not great Lebanese place, roast meats and some mezze are worth getting

    Between London Bridge and Southwark:
    Tsuru -- for curry katsu at lunchtime
    Viva Verdi -- Italian hams and other cold cuts from Emilia-Romagna, the pasta are not bad, and I liked their polenta a lot
    Table -- a very good meat and potatoes kind of place, slightly more fancy at dinner time

    Around Waterloo and Southwark:
    La Barca -- old school Italian with a Tuscan and Calabrese bent

    1. Southwark is the name of the borough/council, as well as just the tube station - the area around Southwark tube station is more usually known as Waterloo/Bankside (don't mean to be pedantic but may make it easier when you're googling!). Immediately near the tube you've got the Anchor and Hope (really decent gastropub), Tas (Turkish, reliably good mini chain), Baltic (Russian I think, but I've never been), Cafe Madeira (Portugese, good pastel de nata). Plus a fairly decent pub in the Kings Arms, Roupell St, which is about a 10 minute walk away. It's also relatively near to Borough Market. The other side of Waterloo Road, on Lower Marsh, there's Green Market, which has Ginger Pig butchery, cheese, deli stuff etc and a regular grocery market.
      About a 15 minute walk away is Walworth Road, with a vietnamese grocer (Hiep Phat), Turkish/Polish grocer (Oli's continental food store, 24 hr), East St Market (mainstream food market, nothing too gastro, plus Afro-Carribean stalls). HTH!

      2 Replies
      1. re: babybat

        Thanks so much, this is great info! Really excited to hear there's a Vietnamese grocery nearby, I'll have to check that out. Near the Southwark tube station area there don't appear to be any decent groceries, just the icky Sainsburys by Waterloo. So I'm still on the hunt.

        Haven't had time to try any of the restaurants around but will give it a go soon.

        1. re: Lina

          The grocery mentioned in the post above (Green Market) on Lower Marsh is great - definitely worth checking out. There is also a pretty decent fruit and vege stall on Lower Marsh during the week (but not sure exactly which days)

      2. Don't forget:
        - Master's Superfish for the occassional excellent fish and chips.
        - Thai SIlk for decent local Thai

        1 Reply
        1. re: CTownFeedR

          I'm assuming that occasional is referring to the regularity with which one should visit Master's and not the varying quality of their (always excellent btw) f&c? :)
          Greensmiths is certainly a fine addition to the area, though their produce is expensive, and I would advise you to always visit the greengrocer who sets up next to the library first, as he is by far the best trader along the strip, and he's a great deal cheaper than Greensmiths. I would say this is true for everything Greensmiths does, that while it provides goods of a general high standard everything it sells can be got cheaper elsewhere, except perhaps the meat, which can only be got from other branches of the Ginger Pig at the same price. While I appreciate the convenience of having everything in one location, I don't think I'm quite ready to spend nearly ten pounds on one coffee, six sausages and a small bunch of parsley (though obviously from the odd selection it was necessary to plug the last few holes in my shopping list), or be charged five pounds for a jar of chutney (I didn't buy this, was just curious how much you can get away with charging for a jar of a few pennies worth of overripe fruit and veg if you stick a label with the Ginger Pig on the side). For pubs would recommend the Lord Nelson on Union St and the Kings Arms on Roupell St for drinking, and the Anchor for eating and drinking. This place really come into its own as a local, not in the sense that you can treat it like an extension of your living room and flop about, but that while the inability to reserve a table there is a problem if you plan on crossing town to eat, when you live close enough to wander by and peer through the window, well, that's a great blessing. While I'm about it, would also recommend Cooper's on Lower Marsh for all natural foods and cereals, Ruby Marsh for their cheap lunchtime curries (the vegetarian food is particularly good), the Mexican boys at the top of lower marsh for their tacos, which are cheap and delicious. They're there for lunch most days now. And Scooterworks, at the bottom of lower marsh, no longer sells reconditioned scooters, but operates as a bar, excellent for decent coffee, campari sodas and such, anytime, though particularly nice in summer. Also would second Limster's El Vergel recomendation, especially for breakfast when they're still quiet, their latin breakfast of beans, eggs and chorizo is great. Would also advise the short bus ride from elephant to Silk Road on Camberwell Church Street for Xinjiang food, and for heavyweight Ecuadorian/Bolivian food, a bus to the top of the Old Kent Road and Costa Azul. Finally, though slightly further afield, I love Perdoni's at the top of Kennington road (now officially called Riverside 2 after a refit which removed the beautiful old school fittings, but still a great place for a cheap bowl of spaghetti in the sun), and for take away recommend Morley's Tandoori, a friendly bog standard take out joint, which excels in certain areas. My flatmate, who has methodically worked through their menu, says that all the regular options are dreadful, but that everything ordered from the house specialities is prepared with real care and fresh ingredients, and from what I've tried I'd agree that it's surprisingly good. For all italian imported produce, I cycle to vauxhall and pick up from the cheap if slightly limited selection at Italo Deli on Bonnington Square. Their stuff is excellent quality, mostly imported with some made on site, and their sourdough comes from Franco Manca in Brixton. The guys seem laudably determined to remain a local store and refuse to charge much. Luigi used to run Di Lieto's in Stockwell, which was a South London institution when I was growing up. It is in some ways the anti-Greensmiths, and I'm glad I have both in my life to achieve balance.

        2. Jumping in with two questions: Where in Waterloo/Southwark can we find a local caff serving a decent, cheap fry-up for breakfast? Also, is the Anchor & Hope open for dinner on Monday nights? I heard they are closed Monday lunch. Thanks!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Kat

            Madeira cafe on the corner of Cornwall Road and Wootton St (under the railway arches) do a pretty good, cheap fry up, and good coffee to match.
            Anchor and Hope are open Monday evening

          2. Two of my favourite places in London are in Southwark:
            Magdalen in Tooley Street and Maltings Cafe in Tower Bridge Road.
            The latter is extraordinary .
            Also i used to love the cakes at the cafe in Southwark Cathedral,but i have not been in a while.

            6 Replies
            1. re: guyboxer

              What are your favourites items at Maltings Cafe? Looking forward to trying it soon.

              1. re: limster

                Difficult to say,since their menu changes daily.I've had many memorable dishes there: a plate of rabbit in stemperata sauce and a pasta 'ncasciata to die for.
                Also i love their sandwiches,my favs are the speck ham with rocket and roast mushrooms and the mortadella with salad and home made pickles.

                1. re: guyboxer

                  Many thanks, will look for an opportunity to try them soon.

                  1. re: limster

                    skut - you are totally spot on! my old stomping ground is Waterloo/Borough, I work in Southwark and now live down near Stockwell, and pretty much cant add anything to your list, except perhaps More on Tooley Street. What is Champour Champour like nower days? Do you ever get down to Estrella's? went to Silk Road the other month and thoroughly enjoyed it too.

                    1. re: justmarried

                      Grew up in Stockwell, so yeah, I love the Estrella, though I haven't eaten there in several years. My brother went back recently, said his meal was both faultless, and also pretty abysmal, which I took to mean the typical estrella experience of a sunny table, cheap beer and chewy greasy squid rings, the enjoyable feeling of picking the wrong cafe to visit while in a foreign city and not really being too bothered about it. Never been crazy about Hot Stuff, I like it for what it is but prefer to go further east for pakistani, or right out to east ham for other sub-continental treats. I also like Roti Joupa in Clapham North, which despite it's sign proclaiming it to be recently established is at least a decade old. There also used to be a few good value spots on the wandsworth road near the old south bank poly building, don't know what any are like now but Max's used to be the best old school caff in the neighborhood by quite a distance. I don't like to fetishise the whole greasy spoon concept but when you have a genuinely good one that scrambles it's eggs properly and brews good tea it can be a real comfort on fragile mornings. There also used to be an excellent Algerian cafe round there but I think that sadly went under some time ago and is now a pound shop, but I could be wrong.

              2. re: guyboxer

                guyboxer, thank you so much for recommending Maltings Cafe. First time I had ever heard of it was in this thread and I had been itching to try it ever since I read what you wrote about it around a week ago. I finally went today for lunch and it was fantastic. I had mackerel with roast potatoes, fennel and watercress, finished with olive oil. Everything was fantastic, very decently priced (£7.75 for a really good plate of food) and the staff were very nice.

                I wish I lived nearer, but I do study down the road, so I hope to go back soon.