Thursday 31 December 2015

Deptford food and drink - new kids on the block

Lots of new bars, cafes and pubs are opening up in and around Deptford - so many that I'm having trouble keeping track of them all, never mind checking out their wares and finding time to review them. The vast majority are independent, giving a great boost to the range of places on offer.

Here's a list of those I've noticed, with brief comments about the ones I've tried. None of them have been thoroughly reviewed; please feel free to add any feedback (or any I've missed) in the comments section.

London Velo 
Hardly a new kid on the block, but I've been too distracted with other things to blog about it since heralding its imminent arrival more than six months ago. It seems to have settled in nicely, although the evening opening that was a fixture when it first launched seems to have fizzled out - maybe not enough demand, or perhaps just for special events? According to Twitter, hours are now a regular 8-6 (9-6 on Sundays).

I've eaten here a couple of times; the food and coffee is good although it's generally a bit more expensive than similar Deptford High Street cafes. They also sell bike stuff such as clothing and accessories - the website suggests quite a range, although I haven't been into that part of the shop since the first time, when my eyes watered at the sight of panniers for £175.

It's also notable for regular fixture Maurice, the French bulldog who seems to like sitting just inside the door waiting to trip up hapless customers like me. 

Barely hours after I posted about the murky goings on in Creekside, street food trader Fleisch Mob announced that they were launching a pop-up restaurant in the former pizza bus. By all accounts they had to shell out a whole lot of cash to fix rotting floors and dodgy electrics to get the venue into a shape that was suitable for opening, and apparently only for a few months. The intention at the time of the launch was that it would only be there till the new year - now, according to the website it will be open again on 8 Jan so perhaps a longer 'pop-up' is in prospect? (Updated: apparently they now 'have the green light' to stay on at the bus for another year).

Wunderlust serves 'seasonal food with an Austrian influence' - the menu certainly features local ingredients from Kent, Essex and beyond, although the Austrian influence is harder to identify. Prices are higher than Deptford is used to, especially considering the surrounds - while generally cleaner and in better nick than before, with posh soap and hand cream in the ladies, you're still effectively eating in a covered yard.

I tried the food on the opening night and found it tasty and well-cooked; service was as you might expect on the first night (which was rammed) and I assume they have ironed out the glitches by now. 

As the name suggests, this new cafe in the Evelyn triangle is not particularly fancy, but it's very fairly priced and the food is tasty and filling. According to their Twitter profile, they work in partnership with Deptford Action Group for the Elderly (DAGE) and offer free tea and coffee to pensioners.  

Don't worry if you aren't old enough to benefit from the free beverages - prices are very reasonable and there's a range of sandwiches, quiches, soups and filled jacket potatoes on offer. Don't expect 'fancy' fillings like avocado or fried halloumi, but a (good quality) coffee and sandwich was less than a fiver when I visited, which is sufficient pay-off for me.

My only gripe would be the seating, which seems to be mostly sofas - not ideal for sitting in while you are eating, especially if they are the squishy 'pre-loved' kind. The Twitter profile says they are open seven days a week, but it was shut when I popped down on a Sunday in early December, so probably best not to rely on that.

Sneaking in on Resolution Way, just off the high street is Buster Mantis, a new bar and restaurant promising Jamaican-influenced food and drinks in two converted railway arches. 

It marks a new departure for Network Rail in the Deptford area; while arches are being converted all across south east London into micro breweries, eateries and delis, the trend is only just arriving here. It would be great to have one or two food and drink venues along Resolution Way, but I wouldn't like to see the wholesale loss of what still represent good-value rentals for offices, storage and space for small local businesses, bringing employment and a range of services to Deptford. 

I'm itching to check Buster Mantis out, but have been unable to do so as yet, there was a soft opening in late December, which I missed, and a (free-entry) New Years Eve do. But I intend to be there as soon as regular opening hours kick in - in particular I look forward to being able to enjoy West Indian food in a restaurant rather than just as a take-out.

This new corner cafe just opposite the Royal Albert on New Cross Road has been open just a month, serving similar fare (at similar prices) to London Velo. Handy if you are on the Brockley/New Cross side of Deptford, and it's friendly and comfortable.

I like the seats at the window for people-watching, and it's also a good spot for observing the traditional driving fuckwittery that seems to pervade this corner of London. Watching the shenanigans of motorists trying to execute the popular turns from Florence Road and Watson's St, using varied levels of diplomacy, will keep you entertained for hours.

Little Thames Walk cafe

Finally, one of the retail units in Creekside Village has found a useful purpose! This cafe is as yet so new that it doesn't seem to have either a website or Facebook page, but let's hope its presence will prompt other businesses to take up residence in those empty units.

The new cafe is on Little Thames Walk, one of the alleys through the Creekside development - look behind you as you go up Copperas St towards Greenwich. It's closed for the holidays at the moment, but promised hours include a 7am start and a 4pm finish, Monday to Sunday.

A wee bit out of the manor but a welcome new addition to the pub offerings in and around Deptford. Yes it's a chain pub, and it's close to the tourist fleshpots of Greenwich so it's likely to have a corporate approach rather than the homely appeal of local favourites such as the Dog & Bell, but I'm anticipating decently-kept ales and a reliable food offering. Its main attraction, especially for entertaining visitors, will be the riverfront views. Over two floors, there should be ample opportunity for exploiting its location.

The pub - on the riverfront of New Millennium Quay - is due to open in January (and is advertising for staff right now if you are looking for work.)

Finally let's not forget the Deptford Project, or Deptford Market Yard, or Rise or whatever it's called these days - the development next to Deptford station that's edging towards completion at an infinitesimally-slow rate. 

As well as a couple of large restaurant units in the new block and the refurbished St Paul's House, it's likely some of the small arch units will be taken on by coffee shops or food vendors. Whenever it completes (originally scheduled for May 2015, now presumably '2016') we are sure to see more competition/choice arriving. 

Let's see if Deptford has the appetite and the means to keep them all in business.