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Tuesday 22 September 2015

Homeslice Pizza - Spirited Sermons at Reverend J.W. Simpson - Lyle's - Highlights

Today on the blog: Monster pizzas, Mezcal masterclasses, Michelin madness and more...

Let's start with former street food traders Homeslice Pizza who recently opened their second permanent site on Wells Street in Fitzrovia, two years after launching in Neal's Yard. There's space for 70, plus some al fresco seating, meaning it's much easier to get a table at than the Covent Garden original.  That said, you can always get takeaway if all else fails.

If you can, grab a seat in front of the pizza oven to watch the chefs at work, though beware, you won't have a great deal of room to eat! You can order any of the top three pizzas on the menu by the slice (£4 each), or you can go all out and get an enormous 20" pie for £20, with the option to go 50/50 on toppings. It's more than enough for two people, and you can pack it up if you don't manage it all.

Homeslice always has some interesting combos going on, and we were almost swayed by Goat Shoulder with Savoy Cabbage and Sumac Yoghurt and Mackerel, Broad Beans, Peas and Mint. Instead though we went full veggie, opting for half courgette and artichoke, half aubergine, cauliflower cheese, spinach and harissa.  Both were delicious, though I'm not sure I'd have wanted many more rich slices of the latter.

London is spoilt for pizza choice at the moment (see Ben Norum's top picks here), and Homeslice's quirky creations are right up there with the best of them. I'm a big fan of the option to eat by the slice, and there aren't too many places that offer it - NY Fold and Voodoo Rays are your best bets elsewhere.

Homeslice's new site somewhat bizarrely also has a basement cocktail bar which was empty on our visit. Time will tell, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was an event space by the end of the year. For alternative booze nearby, grab a beer at the Draft House Charlotte Street before, and a cocktail at the World's Best Bar Artesian at The Langham afterwards. Sorted.

P.S. A third Homeslice will apparently open later this year in Shoreditch at 347-348 Old Street

Homeslice Fitzrovia -

Mon-Sat: 12pm-11pm / Sun: 12pm-10pm

52 Wells Street London W1T 3PR 

Square Meal

Homeslice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Post-pizza, I wandered back towards Goodge Street with Flatmate Maggie to confess my boozy sins at Reverend J.W. Simpson's underground abode.  This cosy, clandestine cocktail bar skipped over the previous brothel-based tenants for inspiration, and instead looked to 1963 when Rev Simpson, whoever he may be, moved in for a quarter of a century. The stained glass entrance hall is stunning once revealed, and the shabby chic décor downstairs works well when the bar is buzzing.


We dropped in to attend one of their weekly Spirited Sermons, a series of informal masterclasses taking place every Tuesday throughout the evening (roughly starting at 6pm and 8.30pm). 

Our night was all about Mezcal (loosely in honour of Mexican Independence Day) and agave expert Tom Bartram from Speciality Brands came down to give us a tutored tasting of four bottles and an introduction to Mezcal production. He spent a month in Oaxaca (Wahaca to us Masterchef fans), the home of Mezcal, and his unique travel pics from rarely visited distilleries were of great interest.

It all starts with the agave plant and a machete. The jimadors (harvesters) cut through to the piñas (the pineapple-shaped hearts) which are then cooked in the ground in covered fire pits for up to five days which gives Mezcal its unique smoky flavour.  

This is where it differs from Tequila production. Tequila is technically a Mezcal, made only from the blue agave plant in the Jalisco region, but it is cooked in large industrial ovens for the most part and therefore doesn't get that smoky characteristic.

The roasted piñas are then mashed and left to ferment naturally with water. The resulting liquid is then distilled, and you're done! It's a lengthy, artisan process, which might make you appreciate your Mezcal a little more when you are handing over a £50 note in Amathus or The Whisky Exchange.

Tom told a whole host of entertaining stories, the most memorable being that of Ilegal Mezcal. New Yorker John Rexer bought a bar in Guatemala when drunk (as you do), named it "Café No Sé", and began smuggling unbranded Mezcal over the border using a combination of uncles, priest outfits and porno - "Regalos para mis amigos and libros para los niños". The booze became popular and was eventually named Ilegal for obvious reasons. The FAQ on their website is a great read -

"No te preocupes. Yo tengo un tío."

We tasted two bottles of Ilegal, one aged in American oak (less common for Mezcal), along with some Derrumbes (sweet, spicy and boozy at 46%) and San Cosme (milky, almost chocolatey). The sweet and smokey young (joven) Ilegal was my favourite, just ahead of Derrumbes. Both have gone on the list for when I replace my almost-empty bottle of Del Maguey Vida (itself a great entry level Mezcal).

After the tasting, we also had a chance to mix our own cocktails with the Rev J.W. Simpson team, picking from a five-strong list of Mezcal Cocktails created especially for the Spirited Sermon evening by the bartenders. I kept it fairly simple with a Tommy's Margarita style Flor de Jamaica with Ilegal, hibiscus-infused agave, lime, and kaffir lime bitters, whilst Maggie got top marks for her Bandito - Ilegal, lavender, grape, herbal liqueur, and ginger, topped with champagne.

Bandito with a face

The Spirited Sermons are a fun and friendly way to get to know a spirit better whilst sipping on classy cocktails. They are continuing right through to the end of the year, so there are plenty of opportunities to make it down - I've included my top picks below:

/// 6th October 2015 - Rev Presents Spirited Sermon Special with Makers Mark ///

London Cocktail Week partners Makers Mark will be coming down for a Spirited Sermon Special. Guests can expect the usual exquisitely crafted Reverend cocktails, lashings of lovely bourbon, fascinating insights into the history and production of the spirit, and some good ol’ Kentucky fun.

/// 27th October 2015 - Day of the Dead Special with El Jimador Tequila ///

Dia de los Muertos is one of the great festivals in Mexico, where families and communities gather and dress up in parades to celebrate the lives of departed friends and family members, inviting the spirits back for a visit and helping their passage to the next life. A joyous time often lasting three days, skulls and skeletons are brightly coloured and detailed, with people spending a whole year working on their outfits and figurines. Expect face painting, dancing and raising glasses of Mexico’s number one tequila, El Jimador!

/// 24th November 2015 - Japanese Whisky, A Love Story – with Nikka Whisky’s Stefanie Holt ///

The birth of Japanese whisky is both beautiful and tragic, with the early attempts at recreating the magic nectar of Scotland in Japan finally coming to fruition with the birth of the two great Japanese whisky houses, and culminating in the incredibly intricate and complex liquids produced by Japan. These are recognised by experts and aficionados as some of the best whiskies in the world today.

Tickets are £25 (or occasionally £12.50 through Timeout) which gets you three cocktails, a tutored tasting of three spirits, and a spot of mixology practice. It's a no brainer. Get tickets here.

Autumn & Winter Spirited Sermons at Rev J.W. Simpson -

Arrive at 6pm or 8.30pm for tutored tastings, cocktail making and boozing

32 Goodge Street, London, W1T 2QJ

Back to food, the full 2016 Michelin Star and Bib Gourmand list was revealed a day early last week after a bookshop prematurely started selling the guide. Hot Dinners has all the info you need on the 2016 winners here.

Four of the six newly awarded restaurants are in Mayfair (Araki, Umu, Bonham's, The Goring) and are for the most part out of my price range. The other two are Fitzrovia's Portland (whose Game Pithivier nearly crashed Instagram), and Lyle's in Shoreditch - both big hits with the foodie community.

By chance, I went for lunch at Lyle's the day before they were awarded their first Michelin Star, and in all honesty, I was a bit disappointed. It was enjoyable but not thrilling; not one of the finest restaurants in London. Surely Robin Gill & co. deserve a look in first? Does it help to have a Sethi or Young Turk on board? What do I know? After all...

- Former Young Turk James Lowe wasn't in the kitchen - he was off being cheffy in Mexico
- I've only been once, and it was for lunch rather than the set menu dinner
- Several foodie friends whose opinions I value greatly rate it very highly
- I'd perhaps built it up in my head too much beforehand

Then again, it has a critics score of 6.5 on Hot Dinners compared to 8.5 for The Dairy, The Manor and Peckham Bazaar amongst others. Maybe South London isn't allowed Michelin stars... 

The décor has come in for some criticism, but I actually quite like the minimalist, almost brutalist layout at Lyle's, with huge windows allowing sunlight to pour in.  It seats 50 and opens early on weekdays (8am) when it does a roaring coffee trade.

Dinner is a £44 strictly set menu affair, but at lunch you can choose from ten or so dishes plus a few desserts.  At £30 or so for 3 courses, it's not bad value, though I'd rather be treated like I'm on a tasting menu at The Dairy with 4 courses plus treats for £24 at lunch.  Here's what we ordered:

- Duck Hearts, Cauliflower & Almonds - £6.90
- Blood Cake, Redcurrants & Dandelion (x2)- £7.50

- Saddleback Loin, Burnt Apple & Fennel - £16.50
- Dexter Flank, Onion & Pickled Walnuts - £16.90
- Monkfish, Greengages & Liver - £15.90

- Fig Leaf Ice Cream, Figs & Verbena - £6.90
- Treacle Tart & Milk Ice Cream (x2) - £6.30

Duck Hearts, Cauliflower & Almonds

Blood Cake, Redcurrants & Dandelion

Saddleback Loin, Burnt Apple & Fennel

Treacle Tart & Milk Ice Cream

My favourite bits? Probably the treacle tart (always been a sucker for it) with its fresh milk ice cream, followed by the complimentary bread and a bottle of Siren Calypso. The Blood Cake was no Bao, and the burnt apple really didn't do it for me or the saddleback loin it was accompanying. Dad's Duck Hearts were rather winning - I can't get enough of cauliflower at the moment - and his main of Monkfish, Greengages & Liver was the most successful large plate, though not something I would order myself.

Maybe it was just an off day, or perhaps the 40 minute Overground journey took its toll on me, but I won't be rushing to recommend Lyle's. For a different perspective, read Leyla's writeup on The Cutlery Chronicles. I wouldn't be adverse to returning, especially as the service was superb and the atmosphere very friendly, but there's plenty more on the to-do list so it may be some time. I should probably save up for Mayfair too, I hear they have some Michelin-starred restaurants there.

Mon-Fri: 8am-11pm / Sat: 12pm-11pm / Lunch: 12pm-2.30pm / Dinner: 6pm-10pm / Closed Sundays

Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ

Lyle's -

Square Meal

Lyle's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


10 restaurants currently on my hitlist: The Clove Club, Oldroyd, Craft, Typing Room, Naughty Piglets, Paradise Garage, Salon, Newnham Arms, The Marksman, Gymkhana


To finish on a more positive note, here are some of the best things I've consumed this week:

- A load of beers at the magnificent Trans-Atlantic Rainbow Project event at Beavertown's taproom
- Epic 48 Hour Short Rib Beef Kare Kare from The Adobros Filipino Supper Club
- Gizzi's Bananas Foster Waffles from Waffle On at The Watch House
- Tortilla with Paprika fresh out of the oven at Park Road Kitchen
- Mum The List's GBBO-inspired Peach Frangipane Tart
- A monster 20" veggie pizza from Homeslice Fitzrovia
-  Photogenic cocktails at Bermondsey Arts Club
- Flatmate Emma's Secret Chocolate Cake
- Lundenwic's Mini Chocolate Fondant

Friday 18 September 2015

Morden & Lea - Lobos Meat & Tapas - The Fire Station - News

Three relatively new openings to take a look at today - Morden and Lea / Lobos Meat & Tapas / The Fire Station

Translation: I actually went along a couple of months ago to all three when they were brand new, but then I skipped town for most of July & August. In my defence, I've since been to 200+ food and drink places in 60 days across West Coast USA, Edinburgh, Berlin and London, though I haven't written up any of those either. Search for #MattTheTrips on Instagram or Twitter for proof. Anyway, better late than never, right?

First up, Mark Sargeant's two-floor modern brasserie Morden & Lea on Wardour Street, "named after cartographers Morden and Lea, who were the first to map Soho in the 17th century".

Morden & Lea has a colourful, eye-catching frontage that's best approached from Lisle Street. Upstairs you'll find a dining room for refined brasserie food (£29 for 2 courses or £35 for 3) and people watching views if you are lucky, whilst downstairs is a more relaxed space for a lighter, less spenny meal and a drink or two - that's where you'll find me!

We wasted no time and ordered some tartines (French open sandwiches) and small plates to share. Smoked Cod Roe with Bottarga was scooped up with fresh sourdough before several tartines were demolished. There are usually nine or so on the menu to pick from, mostly around the £5 mark. Broad Bean, Pea and Pecorino was much more thrilling than it sounds, and Lyonnaise Onion, Olives and Anchovy instantly converted an anchovy-abstainer.

We restrained ourselves on the tartines though as there was still Mark's Crab Sausage Roll (£8.50) to come. That's right, crab meat wrapped in puff pastry, served with a bowl of brown crab meat ketchup for good measure. Yes please.

Broad bean, pea and pecorino tartine

Lyonnaise onions, olives and anchovy tartine

The Crab Sausage Roll doing the rounds on Instagram

Before dessert, it was time to check out the eclectic cocktail menu. I kept things boozy with The Calvados Cocktail (Somerset Cider Brandy, Caol Ila 12yo, French Triple Sec, Orange & Pink Grapefruit Cordial) and a James E. Pepper - "Jamaican Rum meets Scottish Lowlands & Louisiana's finest tobacco with touches of Peruvian bitters, served with South American crisp". Translation: Appleton Estate VX, Auchentoshan 3 Wood, Jade Perique Tobacco Liqueur, and Bitters. Put a fair amount of time aside for this all-booze concoction.

I also returned on another occasion for a couple more. The Boulevardier with Redemption Rye and an olive twist went down very nicely, and then there was the bonkers Velvet Revolver Punch, Morden & Lea's Mezcal Monopoly number in an upturned shiny & chrome hat for £30.  A third visit is required for a Rough Sketch - Del Maguey Vida, Diplomatico Blanco Reserva, Poppy Seed Milk and Charcoal Sugar. Their creative concoctions are mostly priced around £9-11.

The Calvados Cocktail - Somerset Cider Brandy, Caol Ila 12yo, Orange & Pink Grapefruit

James E. Pepper - Appleton Estate VX, Auchentoshan 3 Wood, Jade Perique Tobacco Liqueur, Bitters

James E. Pepper - Rum, Scotch, Bitters. Boozy.

Now - dessert. There are some great £5 options on the downstairs menu (e.g. Set Dark Chocolate with Mocha Sherbert and Buttermilk Pudding), but if you ask nicely you might also get your hands on one of the fancy puddings from upstairs. I'm talking Warm Sugared Doughnuts with Plum Jam and Hazelnut Ice Cream and their signature Gypsy Tart.  The latter is a typical Kentish pudding that is basically pastry, muscovado sugar and evaporated milk - simple and sinful. Here's the recipe:

Mark Sargeant's Gypsy Tart

For the pastry (makes 500g):

125g unsalted butter 
90g caster sugar 
1 large egg 
250g plain flour

For the tart:

300g pastry 
400g evaporated milk 
330g muscovado sugar

Combine the butter and caster sugar in a food processor. Add the egg; process for 30 seconds. Tip in the flour and process for a few seconds until the dough just comes together. Add 1 tbsp cold water if the dough seems dry. Knead on a floured surface then shape into a flat disc and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. 

Roll out 300g of the pastry and use to line a 21cm tart tin. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper; fill with baking beans and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking beans. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the base is a pale golden brown. 

Whisk the milk and sugar together until light and fluffy (it takes about 15 minutes). Pour the milk mixture into the pre-baked pastry case then cook for 5-10 minutes until risen and the surface is tacky.
Remove from oven and leave to cool and set before serving. Done.

If you like the look of the Gypsy Tart, you should probably read this Telegraph article, before heading to The Marksman and Café Murano for similar puddings.

Mark Sargeant's outstanding Gypsy Tart - recipe above

Upstairs - Mon-Sat: 12pm-3pm & 5:30pm-11pm // Downstairs - Mon-Sat: 11.30am-1am

17 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1D 6PJ

Morden & Lea -

Square Meal

Morden & Lea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

You might also like this post - No Reservations : Soho

Next - a trip to the hidden caves of Lobos Meat & Tapas in Borough Market.

Tucked underneath the railway bridge on Borough High Street are the doors to this meaty den from former Brindisa boys, Roberto, Joel, Cortés and Ruben. It's a funny old space, a little tight in places, but there are pleasing décor and lighting touches all around.

Feeling indecisive, we left most of the decision making up to our outstanding server who chose some fino sherries and tapas plates to get us going. 

- Martini Olives - £4
- Octopus Vinaigrette - £5.50
- Croquetas - Ham, Chorizo & Smoked Bacon - £7
- Cazón en Adobo - Deep-fried Marinated Dogfish - £7.50
- Baked Tetilla Cheese - With Toasted Vegetables and Brandy - £9
- Arroz Con Costra - Chicken, Chorizo & Saffron Rice with Egg Crust & Morcilla - £8.50

The Martini Olives, though nicely presented didn't quite come off, and the Octopus Vinaigrette was pleasant but not particularly exciting. The rest however were winners. Croquetas and deep-fried marinated dogfish disappeared in no time before two eye-catching pots and pans arrived. 

Baked Tetilla Cheese came soaked in brandy and was promptly set on fire, briefly illuminating our shadowy alcove - toasted vegetables might not be everyone's first choice to chuck in with molten cheese, but it worked well.  Arroz Con Costra ("Rice with crust") was presented in its clay pot with chicken, chorizo and morcilla to keep the meat eaters happy. The cities of Elche and Orihuela both claim to the origin of the dish - either way, I'm glad it's made its way to London.

Croquetas - Ham, Chorizo and Smoked Bacon // Photo from Lobos website

Baked Tetilla Cheese with Toasted Vegetables and Brandy

We didn't leave a whole lot of room for one of their signature meat plates, but we soldiered on anyway. It was a tough call passing on the Chuleton (sirloin on the bone) and the Roasted Leg of Lamb (pictured below) but we opted for variety with the Iberico Pork Selection - Pork Fillet, Secreto and Presa to share with sides - £26.50

- Marinated Iberico Pork Fillet with Trintxat Potatoes
- Hidden, fatty Secreto cut of Iberico Pork with Mojo Chips
- Pan-fried Presa Iberica shoulder with Roasted Peppers

What's not to like? The matched sides are a nice touch, and it's perfect for sharing. Alternatively, you can order any of the cuts individually if you need something smaller after all of the tapas plates.

Pierna de Cordero - Roasted Castillian leg of milk fed lamb - £28.50 // Photo from Lobos website

There's plenty to enjoy at Lobos, and there were some particular high notes in the tapas plates, but it's up against stiff competition in London. Donostia in Pop Brixton and Barrafina (three sites) are top alternatives with a great buzz about them, though they don't match Lobos for mega meat cuts!

Mon-Sat 12-3.30 & 5.30-11 / Closed Sundays

14 Borough High Street, London. SE1 9QG

Lobos Meat & Tapas -

Square Meal

Lobos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Finally, The Fire Station in Waterloo recently reopened as an all-day hangout, totally refurbished, with a smart selection of food and drink to boot.  

DISCLAIMER: I received a toy fire truck on arrival, so the following write-up may be biased

You can drop in for Caravan coffee from 7am (9am at weekends), settle in for breakfast every day of the week, swing by for a cheeky lunchtime or post-work pint, sip on boozy cocktails with friends, or nosh on sub £10 burgers and pizzas. It may sound like they are going down the Jack of all trades route, but when the alternative is The Wellington over the road, this is exactly what Waterloo Station needs.

Let's start with the cocktails (all £8-9). Most of the menu would fall in to the too-sweet-for-me category, but there are three interesting smoked cocktails (in honour of  that I'd happily order again. The core booze is smoked in advance, rather than the cocktail itself, so the effect is subtle not overpowering. Not bad for a station pub.

- Cinnamon-Smoked Old Fashioned - Cinnamon-smoked Bulleit Bourbon, homemade cinnamon syrup 
- Smoked Cherry Manhattan - Bulleit Bourbon, Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon, Herring Cherry Brandy, Lillet Blanc, Lillet Rouge, Cherry Syrup Oak Smoked
- Honey & Basil Smoked Daiquiri - Applewood-smoked Havana 3YO Rum, Lime, Honey, Basil

As for beer, there are nine or so on draught, plus a selection of ales.  The range wasn't particularly thrilling (Birra Morretti, Amstel, Camden Hells, Meantime Pils - one of those would do), but if Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA is always on then I'll be happy. You can also get some fine cans from their fridges (e.g. Beavertown x 3, Founders All Day IPA, Flying Dog Easy IPA and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale).

Cinnamon-Smoked Old Fashioned - Cinnamon-smoked Bulleit Bourbon, homemade cinnamon syrup

Smoked Cherry Manhattan - Bulleit Bourbon, Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon, Herring Cherry Brandy, Lillet Blanc, Lillet Rouge, Cherry Syrup Oak Smoked

Beavertown Brewery cans

On to the food, it's pizzas or burgers all the way, with a few sides to keep them company - watch out for that spicy coleslaw.

I sneaked one tasty slice of a Margherita (£7.95) before tucking in to a few of their burgers which have clearly taken inspiration from London's buzzing burger scene:

- Cheese - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, American mustard mayo, bacon ketchup, cheese, sliced beef tomato, little gem - £7.95
- Maple Glaze Bacon - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, maple-glazed thick cut bacon, cheese, American mustard mayo, sliced beef tomato, little gem - £8.50
- Black & Gold - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, black pudding, double cheese, American mustard mayo, sliced beef tomato - £9.95
- Glazed Short Rib - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, balsamic-glazed short rib, American mustard mayo, sliced beef tomato, little gem - £10.95

They were all suitably messy and meaty, but when Bleecker Street's award-winning Bleecker Black is a mere 5 minute walk away underneath Hungerford Bridge, there's no contest - the Black & Gold suffers in comparison there. More successful is the excellent Glazed Short Rib burger which would probably be my first choice next time, and sweet potato fries are always welcome.

Glazed Short Rib - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, balsamic-glazed short rib, American mustard mayo

Maple Glaze Bacon - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, maple-glazed thick cut bacon, cheese, American mustard mayo

There are of course better places for beer, cocktails, coffee, brunch, burgers and pizzas all over London, but The Fire Station does well on all fronts and is a great option with attractive interior design and tonnes of space, right next to Waterloo Station. Sold.

Mon-Wed: 7am-11pm, Thu-Fri: 7am-12am, Sat: 9am-12am, Sun: 9am-10:30pm

The Fire Station -

150 Waterloo Road, London, SE1 8SB

Square Meal

The Fire Station Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Looking for great beer around London's Southbank? Look no further.


Let's finish off with a few bits and bobs of clickbait news and nonsense on food, booze and events:

- Climpson's Arch Thai heroes Som Saa launched a crowdfunding campaign, and smashed it within 72 hours, raising £700,000+

- The folk behind world-renowned Nightjar bar have revealed details on their new bar, Oriole

- London Cocktail Week is just around the corner (5th-11th October) - get your wristbands now

- The only place for #craftbeerwankers to be tomorrow (19th Sept) is Beavertown Brewery for the incredible, trans-atlantic rainbow project

- The awesome Kansas Smitty's House Band are finally releasing their album in their Broadway Market bar on 23rd September before going on a tour of London bars including Nightjar's new Oriole bar.

- The list of new Michelin Stars had to be released a day early after a book store starting selling copies of the latest guide. Catch up on the winners (and Bib Gourmand awards) here.

- Caravan, Pizza Pilgrims, Brunswick House, Petersham Nurseries and more coming to the Frieze Art Fair in Regent's Park - 14th-17th October


Thursday 10 September 2015

Jezza's Guide to Beer on the Southbank

For this guest post on London's increasingly beery South Bank, I've turned to the well-informed Jezza from (@BeerGuideLondon.) He is one of a select group of London heroes that keep me in the know in their respective fields, and his guide to pubs and breweries in London is second-to-none. Over to you, Jezza...

Choosing where to drink good beer in and around Waterloo or on the South Bank used to be a simple task: you went to the ever reliable Kings Arms on Roupell Street: 

This traditional pub in a gorgeous 'olde worlde' back street near Waterloo Station has long offered excellent Thai food (or roasts on Sundays) and more recently its beer range has gone from strength to strength.  8 cask ales sit alongside a keg range of growing quality and a small but well chosen bottled range from breweries such as Kernel and Fourpure.

But recently, and out of virtually nowhere, London's South Bank has become a beer destination oozing with potential for a great day out.  Here are some of the new places to check out:

The Hop Locker - Owner Joel loves good beer, and this is reflected in the outstanding selection in this busy market stall in the bustling Southbank Centre Market, directly behind the Royal Festival Hall. This bottle shop cum bar provides such a great range of beers you'll always find something of the very highest quality. 

Now offering 8 drafts and around 30 bottles, you can choose either to drink in the tiny bar area or at a table in the general market area.  Breweries such as Magic Rock, Kernel, Moor, Siren, Fourpure, Beavertown, Burning Sky and Arbor feature regularly, so you can see it's very much the best of British brewing.  The market is open Friday 12 -9pm, Saturday 11am - 9pm and 12 - 6 on Sundays and Bank Holidays, and you're sure to find some excellent food from one of the other market stalls.

N.B. The Southbank Centre Market (and therefore The Hop Locker) is not open this weekend (11th-13th September), but it will return on 18th September.

At the front of the Royal Festival Hall there are now three additional stalls offering good beer. Firstly, Beany Green - of Broadgate Circle coffee fame - is at the top of the steps leading down to the river, just beside the main front entrance to the Royal Festival Hall.  Usually offering several beers from Bermondsey favourites Fourpure, they also offer guest beers from the likes of Partizan Brewing Co. & Pressure Drop.

At the bottom of the steps nestling under The Golden Jubilee Bridge you'll find Look Mum No Hands - again a South Bank offshoot - their permanent location is on Old Street - and then perhaps most prominently, Bleecker Street's burger and beer van - the third of the triumvirate who also have a permanent location elsewhere (in the case of Bleecker Street their regular venue is Old Spitalfields Market - read more here).

N.B. Look Mum No Hands is currently closed for the Winter, and Bleecker Burger has moved, but only as far as the Southbank skate park. Phew.

Look Mum No Hands offer up to 10 draft beers, including some outstanding selections from breweries like Beavertown, Moor and Magic Rock.  Bleecker Street meanwhile currently offer 6 draft lines, often from standout American breweries such as Flying Dog and Brooklyn.  However there's a great additional reason to come here: to eat their superb burgers, such as the award-winning Bleecker Black, which contains black pudding as well as their stand out 40 - 50 day aged beef.   

Both Look Mum No Hands and Bleecker Street are likely to be summer only venues on the South Bank, so visit by the end of September to be sure to catch them in full swing.

Walking along the river towards Waterloo Bridge you'll soon come to the National Theatre, and here you'll find the rather excellent Understudy.

Don't be put off by the rather grey and foreboding concrete exterior: this super relaxed and comfortable venue offers a great selection of around 12 draft and 35 bottled beers, including many from excellent breweries such as London's Brew by Numbers and Siren Craft Brew from Berkshire.

Photo credit : Philip Vile

As you can see, the South Bank is now an excellent beer destination in its own right and a visit is highly recommended.

Guest post written by Jezza, SW London, with photos (mostly) from Matt The List.  Jezza's guide to pubs and breweries in London can be found online at

The site contains full details of The Hop Locker, The Understudy and The Kings Arms – including opening times, which you should check carefully while planning any visits. You can also follow Jezza on Twitter @beerguidelondon or @bonsvoeux1 for frequent updates.

Seeking out the best places to eat, drink and be merry in London and beyond - follow @MattTheList or sign up for email updates above

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