South London: 5 restaurants below the river
It’s no secret that I'm not often in south London. Having grown up in north-central, been schooled in west, and now working and spending most of my free time east, I rarely venture south of the river. However, there’s a small selection of restaurants that’ll have me trekking an hour from home…see below for the places worth the trip down south:
Llewelyn’s, Herne Hill
Hearty and seasonal British plates are on the menu at this minimal restaurant next to Herne Hill overground station. The atmosphere is welcoming and bright; there are no frills here, either in the space or the seasonal menu. Amongst the smaller and sharing plates you’ll find griddled calcots, ricotta and romesco on toast, sprouting broccoli with parmesan and almonds, and celeriac soup. Larger and meatier options include beef lasagna, Tamworth pork chop, and cuttlefish risotto. All delicious and lovingly plated.
Levan, which opened in late 2018, brings some much-needed culinary finesse to Peckham. Sister restaurant to Salon in Brixton Village (which I also highly recommend), Levan is an all-day restaurant serving up contemporary European dishes. I have yet to try the lunch or dinner menu, but the breakfast offering has hearty options such as mushrooms and eggs with buttered toast. Make sure not to miss one of their homemade buns as well: miso and white chocolate is a surprisingly winning combination.
Where The Pancakes Are, Southwark
Pancakes available all day, every day? How has no one else come up with this genius idea before? (Please no one mention 'My Old Dutch; you do not want to be wasting your money there). This cosy spot in Flat Iron Square serves up a delicious combination of buttermilk and baby Dutch pancakes, ranging from classic to more inventive options. You’ve got your traditional buttermilk stack, served with blueberries, bacon and maple syrup, or try their savoury offering, such as the ‘royal’: hollandaise, poached eggs, and asparagus. They’ve also got a batter made for your vegan/gluten-free/dairy-free friends, and options such as the hearty ‘Vegan Breakfast,’ essentially a full English on pancakes…yes please.
Possibly the original Aussie cafe in London, and also one of my all-time favourites for breakfast/brunch/dinner/pretty much any occasion, Caravan now has five branches across London (and counting!). Their Bankside branch was the third to open, and like each of their outposts across the city, this industrial space serves up specialty coffee, and an all-day menu. You’ll find brunch options such as charred aubergine puree with soft boiled egg and yoghurt on toast, or homemade jalapeno cornbread with avocado and black bean salsa. Meanwhile, homemade pizzas and a range of sharing plates make an appearance on the all day menu.
You’ll find a queue outside here on most days, but boy is it worth the wait. Milk is a neighbourhood spot serving up Australian inspired dishes that are perfectly satisfying and tasty. Try their pan-fried eggs with butternet squash and parmesan, or their sweetcorn fritters with avocado and kasundi. A personal favourite is the ‘Betty’, essentially your eggs royale or Benedict, but served with a brown butter hollandaise…absolute heaven. Order lots of sides, and if you’re here for the weekend, try their pancake special.