It’s impossible to get from one end of Bermondsey Street to the other in a hurry. That’s partly because a) it’s actually very long, but also because b) there are just too many distractions en route. One of the world’s foremost contemporary art galleries? Yup. A bar specialising in drinks sourced only in London? Of course. Artisanal glassblowing? Duh. And that’s before you’ve counted off all of Bermondsey Street’s pubs, cafés and restaurants.
If you do manage to get to the southern end with time to spare, keep going and you’ll soon join the Bermondsey Beer Mile, where even more distractions await.
THINGS TO DO ON BERMONDSEY STREET
Glassblowing looks really easy in the right hands – a bit of puff here, a twizzle of the blowpipe there, and that’s all there is to it. It looks an absolute cinch when artist Peter Layton and his team are at work in their studio. Swing by, and you can actually drop into the workshop to watch them work their magic in front of the furnaces – then ogle the finished pieces in the gallery/shop.
Details: 62-66 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UD | Open Tue–Sat| For more information, visit their website here
There’s no missing the Fashion and Textile Museum – the bright orange and pink building sticks out on Bermondsey Street like a pair of Crocs on a catwalk. Within you’ll find a changing line-up of exhibitions, covering subjects as diverse as Swinging London and the evolution of underwear. There are workshops, too, if you like to get handy with the scissors.
Details: 83 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF | Open Tue–Sat | For more information, visit their website here
White Cube isn’t actually white or cuboid until you get inside, and then the unfeasibly white and enormous rooms reveal themselves as the perfect foil for the art on display. There are three galleries spread across 58,000 square feet here, and each showcases the work of contemporary artists. There’s a particular affection for the Young British Artists (YBAs), with pieces from Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin and the Chapman Brothers among others.
Details: 144-152 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ| Open Tue–Sun | For more information, visit their website here
OK, OK, it’s not on Bermondsey Street – but it’s so close, it’s acceptable to veer off track and have a look, not least at the giant ants that oversee proceedings from their perch on an old train carriage. Vinegar Yard is all manner of things – a beer garden, street food venue, flea market and a home to pop-up shops, comedy nights and art installations. Food-wise, take your pick from global dishes including Indian-inspired burgers and Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Details: 72–82 St Thomas Street, SE1 3QU | Open daily | For more information, visit their website here
BERMONDSEY STREET RESTAURANTS
With a CV that includes The River Café and Tom’s Kitchen, James Donnelly’s own venture was never going to disappoint. His long-term residency at the Bermondsey Bar & Kitchen is a sure-fire winner. Dishes make the most of the very best British produce in a varied menu that might include buttermilk fried chicken burgers or curry mutton, rice and peas. And that’s not all: there’s steak nights on Thursdays, bottomless brunch on Saturdays, and roasts on Sundays.
Details: 40 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UD | Open daily | Book here
Casse-Croute is the sort of sweet little bistro that feels like it’s been open on some Parisian back street for about 100 years– so it’s a little surprising to find it on Bermondsey Street, where it’s been dishing up a daily changing menu of French classics since 2013. The décor is classic, too, from the vintage Absinthe sign on the wall to the chequerboard floor and the gingham tablecloths. You’ll emerge feeling at least 50% more Français than when you went in.
Details: 109 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XB | Open daily | Book on 0207 407 2140
Spanish chef José Pizarro has a thing for Bermondsey Street. A short amble from his tiny tapas bar José, is the second half to his operation: Pizarro. Sociable dining is at the heart of both – at Pizarro, sit at the tiled bar and watch the chefs at work or join the conversation at the communal tables. A more difficult decision is what to choose from the menu – cod in Catalan sauce, suckling lamb and acorn-fed Ibérico pork are just some of the highlights.
Details: 194 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ | Open daily | Book here
If ever there was an advert to do one thing and do it well, it’s Flour & Grape. You come to the Italian restaurant, based in a former antiques warehouse, for fresh pasta – for silky ribbons of pappardelle served with beef ragu, and fat parcels of ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta. There’s a carefully curated menu of Italian wines, too, and a snug little downstairs bar (214) where it’s dangerously easy to lose track of time.
Details: 214 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ | Open daily | Walk-ins only – find out more here
CAFÉS ON BERMONDSEY STREET
Family-owned Chapter 72 is less a café than a love letter to the coffee bean. There’s everything you’d expect from a coffee shop, with brews made using ethically sourced beans, and the usual suspects with laptops hanging out on the stools inside. But the beans aren’t just going into a flat white or filter – there’s a list of espresso martinis on the menu, too, and workshops to show you how to shake your own.
Details: 72 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UD | Open daily | For more information, visit their website here
One of London’s best cafés, tiny WatchHouse occupies the old guard shelter for the neighbouring graveyard. There’s no waking those residents, but the excellent coffee should inject some pep into the most bone-weary customer, particularly if lucky enough to snaffle one of the ten seats inside. Almost certainly guaranteed to get the day off to a good start is an order of the life-affirmingly good bircher, breakfast burritos and sausage brioches, too.
Details: 109 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UW | Open daily | For more information, visit their website here
Despite the name, you’re positively encouraged to stay on the premises at Fuckoffee. It’s pretty easy to plop into a Chesterfield with a macchiato and a slice of rainbow cake and not get up again for a couple of hours. You’ll need that long to fully take in the décor, which includes various assorted neon signs, a decapitated doll’s head, a set of Minions and a picture of Arthur Scargill.
Details: 163-167 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UW | Open daily | Find out more here
PUBS & BARS
A relative old-timer on Bermondsey Street, Hide Bar has been keeping the good people of Southwark in cocktails since 2007. The industrial feel of the original remains, but the bar now focusses almost exclusively on pouring drinks sourced in London, with most “distilled, brewed, fermented or produced” within 2km of the capital. Avoid if you’re at all indecisive – there are 12 beers on tap and close to 100 spirits to choose from.
Details: 39-45 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF | Open Tues-Sat | Book here
Part deli, part wine bar, B Street is all parts dangerous – it’s impossible to enter and just get what you came for. Nip in to buy a bunch of flowers and a jar of olives, emerge three hours later having drunk a couple of bottles of fine Argentinean red and bulldozed your way through a platter of antipasti. If you want the good vibes to continue when you’re booted out at 10pm, buy a bottle to take home.
Details: 83 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF | Open daily | For more information, visit their website here
One of the loveliest pubs in London Bridge, The Woolly hits that pub jackpot of being a perfect option no matter the time of year. On sunny days, drinkers assemble from miles around to nab one of the picnic tables in the massive beer garden, one of south London’s best. In winter, the dark wood, leather banquettes and original tiled walls on the ground floor keep things cosy, as do hefty portions of Sunday roasts and sausages and mash. There’s an upstairs, too, if it’s looking rammed.
Details: 98 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB | Open daily | For more information, visit their website here
A lot has changed on Bermondsey Street since the Garrison flung open its doors in 2003, but it remains a trusted favourite in the area. It does exactly what every good gastropub should do, serving high-quality seasonal dishes in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, with a great wine list and decent beers on tap. It also does what other good gastropubs don’t necessarily do, with a free film club on Sunday nights.
Details: 99-101 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XB | Open daily | Book here
Bermondsey Corner is the sort of undefinable place that offers everything you want exactly when you want it. In the morning, swing by to pick up a coffee and a pastry. In the afternoon, pop in to buy a baguette and some gorgonzola (and accidentally come away with a ceramic candlestick and a pot plant). In the evening, you’re here for one reason alone – a seat on the cobbled terrace, a bottle of wine and a charcuterie board.
Details: 142 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TX | Open daily | Book here
While you’re in the area… swing by one of these great London Bridge restaurants