Frugl Local: London Bridge / Bermondsey

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It’s easy to dismiss London Bridge as nothing more than a commuter escape hatch hiding under the Mordor-like construction of The Shard, with its sole redeeming feature being the foodie’s playground in Borough Market.  However, whilst the market is an absolute wonder, there is a lot more on offer around the area and into a regenerated Bermondsey, including theatres for young and old, innovative new galleries and coffee shops with remarkable historical stories.
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1. Breakfast Club – Enjoy your breakfast, lunch and dinner with your tongue firmly in your cheek (but not when you chew.)  The London Bridge chapter of this growing food empire might just be our favourite of the whole bunch, with the finest in American soul food available all hours of the day. Opening Times: Monday – Wednesday 7:30am – 11pm; Thursday / Friday 7:30am – Midnight; Saturday 8am – Midnight; Sunday 8am – 10:30pm. 11 Southwark Street, SE1 1RQ

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2. Menier Chocolate Factory – A south London gem.  The theatre plays hosts to some of the most excellent programming around, with many of the shows first put on here finding their way into the West End.  So if you fancy yourself as having a fine eye for the theatre and want to see a cracking performance before you have to pay double to watch it from the gods, head to the Menier.  Their restaurant is also a great place for pre-show dinner or just to pop into for a coffee and cheeky dessert. Opening Times: Monday 10am – 5pm; Tuesday – Friday 10am – 11pm; Saturday Noon – 11pm; Sunday Noon – 3:30pm. 53 Southwark St, London SE1 1RU

The Miller

3. Miller Pub Over the past five years the London improv comedy scene has blossomed and the Miller has been at the heart of the scene.  A fine London boozer downstairs is topped of my a performance space where you can see some of the brightest and sharpest riffers in town polishing their craft.   Opening Times: Monday – Wednesday Noon – 11pm; Thursday/Friday Noon – 1am; Saturday 6pm – 1am. 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS. 

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4. Unicorn Theatre – When London is referred to as the theatre capital of the world, it’s not just because of places like the Old Vic and the Globe.  The Unicorn is a key part of that, with companies from all over the country and the world flocking to this remarkable auditorium to provide stories of wonder, excitement and fun to the audience of tomorrow.  There are also a whole range of classes and workshops for everyone from tots to teenagers and the prices are nothing like the often prohibitive major theatres in the centre of town.  Opening Times: Monday – Friday 9:30am – 6pm; Saturday/Sunday 10am – 6pm. 147 Tooley St, London SE1 2HZ

Southwark playhouse

5. Southwark Playhouse – Conventional wisdom might have you think that Covent Garden and Shaftesbury Avenue were at the heart of London’s theatre scene, but London Bridge and the South Bank can give it a real run for its money.  The Southwark Playhouse is one of the finest studio theatres in the city – it’s low-roof, vaulted space giving it a ready-made ambience that is wonderfully exploited by new companies and experienced creating some of the most exciting work in London, ranging from intimate domestic drama to acrobatic physical theatre. Opening Times: Monday – Friday 9am – Midnight; Saturday 1pm – Midnight. 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD

The Scoop

6. The Scoop – This is a marvel of modern London.  Located next to the GLA and Tower Bridge, this huge amphitheatre hosts a huge range of free performances including films, dance, cultural celebrations and music, as well as some tasty food markets too.  A perfect place to hang out on balmy summer nights. Queen’s Walk, More London, London SE1 2DB

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7. The Horniman – Not to be mistaken for the excellent museum in Forest Hill, this former tea warehouse is an atmospheric location for a charming post-work pint and always has an excellent variety of ales available. Opening Times: Monday/Tuesday 10am – 11:30pm; Wednesday – Saturday 10am – Midnight; Sunday 10am – 11pm. Unit 26, Hays Galleria, London Bridge, London SE1 2HD

Maltby street

8. Maltby Street Market – London is spoilt for choice when it comes to markets, but this one has still been kept relatively secret (sorry for sharing that secret Maltby fans!)  A ten minute stroll from London Bridge station the market includes the boutique Little Bird Gin distillery for refreshing summer cocktails, a whole variety of stalls to fill your larder with chutneys, sauces and sourdough loaves of bread, plus some delicious fresh produce.  There’s usually some cracking buskers hanging out as well to add to the bohemian back alley ambience. Opening Times: Saturday 9am – 4pm; Sunday 11am – 4pm. Ropewalk, London SE1 3PA

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9. Underdog Art Gallery – If you find yourself gravitating towards Tate Modern too often, stroll on by to this superb new gallery which hosts some of the most excellent contemporary art and design shows in South East London. Dealing in contemporary fine art, urban street art, sculpture and outsider art, they pride themselves on representing the best established and emerging artists in London and beyond.  There is also a wide range of events from live music, film screenings, book launches, salon talks for all of your beard-stroking cultural needs. Opening Times: Monday – Saturday 11am – 6pm; Sunday Noon – 4pm. 6 Crucifix Ln, London SE1 3JW

Tremors

10. Tremors – Sadly not a coffee shop run by Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward where there’s an ever-present threat of being dragged underground by an angry super-worm.  Instead, just some of the sparkiest coffee on either side of the river. Opening Times: Monday – Friday 8am – Midnight; Occasionally open weekends. 37a Bermondsey St SE1

The Hide bar bar

11. The Hide – A wonderful, well-stocked cocktail bar staffed by award-winning bartenders and a drinks menu stuffed with historic offerings dating back to the 1880s.  If that doesn’t already sound like a perfect hang out for any day of the week, then the Bourbon stir fried beef, purple potato, berry balsamic is the savoury cherry on top of it all to make the trip worthwhile. Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday 5pm – late. 39-45 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3XF

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12. Tanner and Co. – This converted warehouse typifies excellent and affordable modern British cookery.  They have a menu for every conceivable occasion, from delicate sandwiches to huge sharing platters.  The choice between the Billingsgate, Spitalfields and Smithfields boards is a tough one for us every time we visit. Opening Times: Monday – Wednesday 8am – 10pm; Thursday/Friday 8am – 11pm; Saturday 10am – 11pm; Sunday 10am – 9pm. 50, Bermondsey St, London SE1 3UD

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13. Fashion and Textile Museum – A veritable kaleidoscope of fun and invention, this tremendous museum founded by iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes, explores elements of fashion, textile and jewellery. A visit here is as rewarding as a visit to any of the nearby art galleries, whether its to enjoy the dazzling bursts of colour or encourage young, budding designers. The Museum does not have a permanent display, but offers an exciting program of focussed temporary exhibitions and displays throughout the year which allows the Museum to showcase a rich variety of contemporary fashion and textile items. Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am–6pm (Thursday until 8pm); Sunday 11am–5pm. 83 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3XF

Jose

14. Jose – Just like the villages that have grown in Walthamstow and Brixton in the past few years, Bermondsey village now boasts a fine tapas bar. The view from the window might be pure South London, but the tastes available from this excellent kitchen are pure, delicious Iberia. Opening Times: Monday – Saturday Noon – 10:15pm; Sunday Noon – 5:15pm. 104 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB

Watch house

15. The Watch House Coffee –  At the southern end of Bermondsey Street sits a unique, small octagonal building – the Watch House. Built in the early 19th century, this sheltered those who kept watch against the grave robbers who sort to harvest cadavers from St Mary Magdalen church graveyard. It also served as a base for the local Watch who attempted to keep law and order before the establishment of a police force. The Watch House is now a coffee shop, and a good one. They have quickly developed a regular clientelle of regulars through a combination of coffee made with care (espresso or batch brew), warm welcome and hospitality, a unique space and their tasty sandwiches and cakes. Pastries and bread are from the superb Little Bread Pedlar while the Sweet Tooth Factory and Crumbs and Doilies provide cakes and St Johns Bakery the inimitable doughnuts. Karma Kola and Canton teas are also featured. Opening Times: Monday – Friday 7am – 6pm; Saturday 8am – 6pm; Sunday 9am – 6pm. 199 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UW 199 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3UW

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