Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Deptford - popping out all over

One of the most overused phrases of the last couple of years has got to be 'pop-up', particularly in relation to shops/restaurants and bars. I'm not sure who first popped up (sorry!) with the concept, but I don't really see what's wrong with the myriad of other phrases and words that could be used to describe the same thing - temporary, one-off, short-term, seasonal, weekend, Sunday morning blah blah blah.

It's been used and misused heavily for some time now, so I think it's time we piped down with the popping up and went back to more appropriate terms.

Deptford seems to attract more than its fair share of such temporary bars and restaurants, presumably because it's blessed/blighted with a whole heap of short-term locations begging for 'meantime uses' /developers happy to sponsor such ventures to create a buzz around a place where they are trying to flog apartments and which has traditionally been a hard sell (- 'foodwashing' as Crosswhatfields dubbed it). 

But enough about terminology - what's on where and for how long? 

Presumably Deptford Twinkle - a 'riverside pop-up bar in sunny Deptford serving tasty cocktails, craft beer and south east London charm' takes its name from Twinkle Park at the bottom of Watergate Street even though it's not actually in the park. It sounds like this venture will be on the riverfront of the redeveloped Paynes & Borthwick wharf - go between the buildings and you'll find a rather nice terrace with some planted water features and views across the river and downstream to Greenwich.

Do take a jumper though, the terrace faces north/north east so there's no chance you will be sipping your cocktails in warm evening sunlight I'm afraid.

Deptford Twinkle (@deptfordtwinkle) is open two weekends only - 15th-17th August and 22nd-24th August. From 5pm-10.30pm on Fridays; 2pm-10.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Happy hour is 5pm-7pm every day.

Deptford Brunch Club

This venture - a weekly 'brunch club' in the heart of Deptford - is organised and promoted by Lewisham Council and seems to have a reasonable level of funding behind it as it is running every Sunday until October.

I missed blogging about the original launch of this in June due to other commitments, but according to the council's press release the intention is 'to enhance the town centre's morning offer' and each Sunday showcases a new chef and new menu. It's being organised in conjunction with Grub Club, which is an online platform for supper club (or brunch in this case) promotion.

I haven't been so I can't comment on the quality of the food - looking at the menus on offer they certainly seem to be diverse and interesting and happily there's some very good feedback on the website.

The ticket price - £18 for this Sunday - does seem steep but since most of them now involve unlimited rum cocktails, or similar, as well as three courses, that's probably not bad for what you get. It's also quite modest compared to a lot of the other offers on the Grub Club site, although the vast majority of those are not at the mercy of the weather, nor are they presumably being subsidised by the local authority.

My main problem is the place and time - the idea of sitting in a tent in Giffin Square for Sunday lunch/brunch (it goes on till 5pm that's tea time if you ask me!) just does not appeal, although that could be a case of familiarity breeding contempt. I'm also not sure what it brings to the high street, apart from something to gawp at. Some of the high street shops do open on Sunday, but there's by no means enough to make it a draw for visitors to hang around afterwards, and of course there's no market, making the general atmosphere rather underwhelming.

I'm really struggling with this one. I am happy that the council is spending money trying to promote the high street, but I just think this venture is way off target. The culinary tours they funded last year seemed much more attractive and interesting, and a great way to get people experimenting with different tastes and using the local shops. Yo Yum Tum even made a film about one of the tours, which features my favourite store - Housewives Cash n Carry!

Beer Box

A bit out of the manor this one, but potentially another good stopping off point if you are fond of an evening bike ride around the Greenwich peninsula.

It's two-storey bar outside the O2, which is made out of shipping containers and has a roof terrace, serves Meantime beers and is presumably intended to host bands now and again, like the one that played at its launch. This is very much developer-led; Meantime is working with peninsula developer Knight Dragon on this, and it doesn't really count as pop-up to be honest, since it's due to be there for three years at least.

Little Nan's Bar

Of course the most famous 'pop-up' which everyone thought was here to stay in Deptford for good - Little Nan's Bar - was ejected from its tea-cup laden, antimacassar-strewn home on Deptford Broadway in an unseemly hurry last month, causing a great outcry among loyal fans.

Until they find a new place - back in Deptford, let's hope, we need its special brand of charm and eccentricity - it seems they will be popping up in Birdie N*m N*m's cafe (sorry I loathe the N*m word)  in New Cross.

Update: I forgot to mention this pop-up on the eastern side of the Greenwich peninsula http://thejettygreenwich.co.uk/whats-on/ 

Dance performance in some shipping containers and 'the most unique bar in London' (yes really, most unique ffs) on an old jetty downstream of the 02. As with Deptford Twinkle you'd be advised to bring a cardy if you want to sit on the jetty and have a cocktail.

Anyway that's enough from me, time I was popping off. Please feel free to share any other local pop ups in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Regarding Paynes and Borthwick Wharf and the pop-up - Paynes Wharf building has been, last week, sold for 4.5 million pounds to a Chinese Restaurant owner who intends to open a restaurant there, so that will be something more permanent to pop into.

Deptford Dame said...

Thanks for the tip anon, can you give us anything more concrete to go on, the name of the company for example?

Anonymous said...


This is the company that has bought into Paynes Wharf.

You will see it is involved in catering, cultural exchange and a hotel in Epping.

vesper said...

I was pleased to see that public access to Thames is still possible at the end of Watergate Street now that the Paynes & Borthwick scheme is nearing completion even if the stair access to the Deptford Twinkle does intrude on the 'Watergate' and reduce its width.

Public access to the Thames in Deptford seems to have disappeared between the Ahoy Centtre and the EDF building and opposite the Hoy pub too :-(

Deptford Dame said...

Thanks for the link, anon. What a strange combination of businesses - publishing and restaurants! Although the restaurants shown on their website don't look much different to the Orient (not that there's anything wrong with the Orient, I hasten to add...)

Deptford Dame said...

@vesper I believe the 'public slipway' next to the Ahoy centre is indeed still intended to be a public watergate, although it's bugger-all use when you have to get someone from the Ahoy centre to come and unlock the gates for you in order to use it. From what I heard that was a rather contentious part of the redevelopment works there (before my time) and although it was challenged at the time, the council allowed it to go ahead.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why you dislike the word 'Num'. Very strange.

Deptford Dame said...

@anon me neither, I just do. Probably for a start because it's not a real word and also it sounds like the sort of thing parents say to their kids to get them to eat stuff.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that you are so negative about people who are 5 eying to work together to build something new for their loyal customers . But either way negative or not all opinions are just that, opinions. In mine the idea of a pop up, overused as a concept or not, works. I have just left little nans at Birdie Num Nums and the place was packed with smiling faces. And why not just put aside the negativity and enjoy the fact that you have options in your local area...?

vesper said...

@Deptford Dame when I challenged the Ahoy Centre about the monstrosity of a gate that has been placed across Deptford's main public access to the Thames, the staff first told me "I could get the key from the library". When I asked "which library?", nobody knew, and they tried to intimidate me with the presence of a huge young black man, so I then asked to speak to the manager, who appeared and said that "the gates belonged to EDF, but that the Ahoy Centre had the keys for access in their possession". He also said that the gates had been "erected to prevent fly-tipping", which didn't ring true with me at all. Once again he said that "the gates had been erected by EDF", but he seemed very nervous when I said that "Deptford's public links to the Thames were it's historic lifeblood".

When Princess Anne opened the Ahoy Centre, both the Mayor of Lewisham, and the Mayor of Greenwich were present. I said to her that I preferred it when Deptford only had one Mayor "its own" and she laughed. There was no gate blocking Deptford's public access to the Thames that day, so I question whether planning permission has ever truly been given.

Anonymous said...

Hi, we went to the pop-up at P&B on Friday night and had a great pint from the Brockley Brewery plus the largest measure of Prosecco my partner has ever seen. All for a tenner, so a big thumbs up from us. We will be there again this coming weekend.