Hattie Lloyd 04/06/24

A Night of Cocktails & Comedy in Deptford

Itinerary Location: Deptford | Duration: 6 hours

Deptford gets a nod in the Canterbury Tales. It’s where Sir Walter Raleigh famously laid down his cape for Elizabeth I. In short, it’s the place of legends – which would be intimidating, were it not for the absolutely dynamite date idea that you’re about to slip into your back pocket.

Because when you’re looking for a fun-filled Friday night date, this south-east London neighbourhood is ready to deliver. There will be laughs (from professional comedians, and possibly even you). There will be nature’s greatest aphrodisiacs (oysters, and a drink named after Lionel Richie). And there will be ostensibly laid-back but surprisingly romantic venues by the bucketload. So sack off work early, and head straight for a warm-up cocktail at:

➊ LITTLE NAN’S | 5pm

little nans bar deptford

Little Nan’s opens at 4pm, and has a menu of over 90 different cocktails. If that doesn’t herald the end of the week with all the subtlety of a 20-strong brass band, we don’t know what does. You’ll find it housed in the revamped railway arches leading to Deptford station, with an abundance of outdoor seating if the weather’s good, and plenty of cosy nooks inside if (when) it’s not.

The Little Nan family of bars was christened in honour of the founder’s Eastenders-loving nana, and the interiors are a fitting visual cacophony of hyper-kitsch bric-a-brac. You will drink out of commemorative Jubilee teapots. You will sit in salvaged Chesterfield sofas and chintzy old armchairs. And you will almost certainly be encouraged to don a sombrero at some point (especially if you come back here later in the night).

For now, however, you’re here for a sophisticated pre-dinner apéritif – so peruse the felt tip menu, and order yourself a Sir Lionel Richie with spiced rum, vodka, strawberry purée and coconut cream, before heading to:


sharkbait and swim deptford

Sharkbait & Swim is Deptford’s smash-hit seafood spot from chef Steve McClarty, whose time spent cooking in kitchens around Europe is a constant source of reinvention for his menu of dishes designed to share. Oysters, though delicious, aren’t one of nature’s great lookers – but in McClarty’s hands they’re things of beauty, fried in crisp batter with rendang spices or perched on top of a Bloody Mary. Then there’s the platters of shellfish, the pint cups of whitebait and the larger plates like mussels with Goan curry… basically, if it’s spent at least part of its life underwater, McClarty can work magic with it.

On top of this, there’s a playlist of mainly 90s bangers, and some great tables outside to be had (luckily the odds are in your favour here – there’s only about four tables inside the railway arch, and about four times as many spilling out onto the yard). If you could design the perfect chilled-out date spot that nevertheless quietly impresses, this would be it.

Don’t linger too long, though, because you’ll need to dash down the road in time for:


the albany deptford

© Ellie Kurttz

Or, in fact, anything at The Albany. Because Deptford’s resident theatre is a bit of a chameleon, a space that stages everything from live gigs and stand-up comedy to cool, avant-garde new plays (one show during 2022’s LIFT Festival turned the entire space into a beach). It’s been a community-focussed arts centre since the 70s, and these days enjoys a reputation as one of the city’s highest quality fringe venues – where you can see great shows with plenty of change from a £20.

The monthly Bangers & Nash comedy night is a recent addition to the programme, headlined by skyrocketing rising star Chantel Nash (a finalist in last year’s BBC New Comedy Awards). Each month she’s joined by an exciting mixed bill of both ones-to-watch and established talents like Suzi Ruffell, Michael Odewale and Kerry Godliman. You’ll get two hours of solidly excellent comedy – with the chance to refresh your pint during the interval – for just £13, so you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank (or at least to the contactless card terminal).

➍ THE WATERGATE | 9.45pm

Leaving on a post-comedy high, there’s no way you’ll be ready to call it a night yet. On the way back to the station, both Little Nan’s and Buster Mantis beckon for more drinks and dancing, if that’s what the occasion calls for. But if you’re still too busy swapping favourite jokes from the show, carry on up past the station for a few minutes to reach The Watergate.

the watergate date spot deptford

The Watergate is a one-size-fits-all favourite for brunch, dinner, and late-night drinks. There’s another great terrace out front here, or you can head in to the breezy, artfully stripped-back interiors that mingle exposed brick with verdant plant life and soft-focus lighting.

Order something of the wine list (all natural, naturally) or a house serve like the Tang (a whisky sour with amaretto, peach and kumquat), and settle down with your date to regale each other with another tale or two…

…we hear The Wife of Bath’s a cracker.


The Itinerary:

➊ Little Nan’s | Arches 13-15, Deptford Market Yard, Deptford, SE8 4BX

➋ Sharkbait & Swim | Arch 11, 4 Deptford Market Yard, Deptford, SE8 4BX

➌ The Albany | Douglas Way, London SE8 4AG

The Watergate | 7 Watergate Street, Deptford, SE8 3HR

Looking for more inspiration? Try these excellent London cocktail bars on for size

Deptford Itinerary

Meet at Deptford Station, Deptford,