A Saturday Well-Spent in South London

London has come to be a second home of mine this year. What with Ben moving down there for work and myself having many (legitimate) excuses for travelling down, it seems like I'm in London at least once or twice a month. It makes long-distance a lot easier and more enjoyable when you have a great city to visit (along with a great person!)

Because I spent Valentine's day without Ben (and instead with my flatmate making mac and cheese and watching trashy TV), we decided to make up for it the weekend after when I came down to London for reading week. From a brewery tour to Jamaican jerk chicken for lunch to a phenomenal Spanish dinner, I'm actually glad we skipped the crowds and delayed our celebration to the weekend!

South London (whether East, West or somewhere in between) is a treasure trove of good eats and fun things to do within the larger city. It might not be everyone's idea of "classic London," but Ben and I have spent a great deal of time exploring this less-trodden area South of the Thames.
The craft beer scene in London has experienced a huge influx in the past decade or so. From having just a handful or so of major breweries in the city to where we are now with more than a hundred in London, locally-brewed small-batch beer has become the next big thing.

Ben had heard from some colleagues that Fourpure Brewery had just opened its doors to the public the week before, meaning the taphouse and tasting tour were in full swing. Located in an unassuming trading estate in Bermondsey, Fourpure has actually been around for a good few years. But now that it's open to locals and tourists alike, it's hopping with activity on the weekends.

We took the full-on tour, which was only £16 each, so we could brush up on distinguishing our hops from our malts and our IPAs from our lagers. I'm not a huge beer drinker, but this tour and tasting just about converted me. Before and after getting the rundown of how the facilities work, we were free to sip on 6 beers (1/3 pint each) of our tour guide Nick's choosing. My favorite? The peach sour. Infused with tart, zingy peach juice this tasted like summer in a glass. I usually struggle to finish an entire pint, but I could easily do so with this one. For the more traditional beer drinkers, there are plenty of non-fruity options on offer as well.

After basking in the sunlight of the warmest day we'd had in months, we headed in search of food (the tasting was from 12-2 PM so you can imagine we'd be hungry at this point). We skipped out on the famous Fourpure meatballs (though they looked fantastic) and headed to Deptford Market Yard to see what other culinary delights this area of London had to offer. It was 3PM at this point, so we really had the pick of the lot, but I can imagine Deptford Market Yard gets pretty crowded at lunchtime.

We wandered around the area for a little bit before settling on Mama's Jerk for some lunch. As you can probably guess, this spot's speciality is jerk chicken (but don't worry, they've got the vegans and vegetarians covered with spicy bean cakes and fried plantains aplenty). Ben and I both opted for chicken but in different styles- a bun (or burger) for him and a roti (or wrap) for me. This wrap was just what I needed after an afternoon of beer drinking in the sunshine, with the perfect pairing of spicy, well-marinated chicken and fresh cabbage. Don't forget to try the mango mayonnaise on the side- it sounds strange, but you won't regret it!

Don't worry, our late lunch didn't put us off having a fantastic dinner. Even if it was late and relatively light. Ben had spotted L'Oculto when riding the bus home a few weeks ago, and he just knew we had to pay it a visit. Located in St. John's (just 10 minutes walk from Lewisham station), L'Oculto started as a pop-up in an artists' studio, but since it's turned into a favorite of locals, it seems like it's here to stay. L'Oculto is Spanish food at it's finest. Authentic tapas served and cooked by passionate Spaniards and worlds away from the big-box tapas restaurants we see on the high street today. With room for little more than 25 or so people, L'Oculto is an intimate affair perfect for date nights.

Sitting around an old wine barrell with a wall of hard-to-find wines to our right, we felt right at home from the start. We perused the wine menu (that looked more like a detailed excel spreadsheet if I'm honest) and settled on a very reasonably priced Tempranillo. Soon after, we watched in awe as our waiter decanted the wine in the most intricate way possible (you have to see it to believe it) and were even more pleased when we tried the wine itself. It really was some of the best I've had in a long time (so smooth!)

To eat, we shared five dishes between the two of us (we were pretty full from earlier). Starting with pan con tomate, I was immediately taken back to my holiday in Spain two summers ago. Simple tomato on top of crusty bread with the finest olive oil is perhaps the best way to start a meal. We moved on to Spanish tortilla (a classic) before the "curveball" of the night- anchovies in olive oil. To be honest, I didn't think I would like them. But the fish wasn't too "fishy" and the salt flakes and olive oil on top made the dish (paired with a bit of roasted red pepper).

Next, we tucked into some mini Spanish ham and manchego cheese sandwiches with the most addictive, bright-green parsley sauce. But the favorite of the night? It had to be the squid. It's L'Oculto's special after all! This plate of tender grilled squid was served with just a bit of salt and a fluffy smashed potato underneath. So simple, but so good.

We couldn't say no to sharing a dessert- especially for something as delicious and utterly Spanish as flan! Served with a shot of sherry mixed with cream for pouring (though our waiter did say a lot of people just drink it), this flan is heaven on a plate. Perfectly smooth without being Jell-O like, it was a true winner.

So there you have it. From Fourpure Brewery to Mama's Jerk and the rest of Deptford Market Yard to L'Oculto, there's much more to London than Big Ben and the London Eye. South London is a surprisingly fantastic area, home to arguably some of the best food in all of London (and without the massive crowds and prices!)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...