From colourful courtyards in Deptford to picnic tables by the Cutty Sark and lush, family-friendly green gardens in Sydenham, The Resident picks out 21 of the best beer gardens in south east London…
Lead image: The Old Brewery, Greenwich © Joe Lord/Archant
1 Dulwich Wood House, Sydenham
The Dulwich Wood House in Sydenham is a lovely, sprawling pub with a huge leafy beer garden and recently refurbished decking area. There’s plenty of room to sit – either in the shade of the trees or to lap up the sun – and for the kids to stretch their legs. It’s a Young’s pub with a selection of 40 wines from around the world, a good selection of craft beers and award-winning ales, fresh juices and coffee.
39 Sydenham Hill SE26 6RS; thewoodhousedulwich.co.uk
2 The Old Brewery, Greenwich
The Old Brewery has just had a refurb, reopening on Friday 7 April, and we can’t wait to see what they’ve done! The cafe, restaurant, bar and microbrewery has a lovely walled alfresco courtyard, bedecked with foliage, and we can’t imagine that that’s changed in any way for the negative. If it’s quiet you can catch the faint notes of piano or cello practice from Trinity Laban students at the adjacent Old Royal Naval College. As well as Meantime’s own locally brewed beers and a selection of the world’s best lagers, you can also enjoy a chilled glass of ﬁzz or wine.
Pepy’s Building, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich SE10; oldbrewerygreenwich.com
3 The Brookmill, Deptford
The Brookmill, sister pub to The Great North Wood in West Norwood, opened last autumn to much fan fare, and those who have seen its beer garden – and sampled its scotch eggs – will know it deserves it. The pub displays displays art by local artists, and the colourful, labyrinth-like courtyard beer garden, with picnic benches, bistro tables and room for plenty, features a garden mural created in partnership with Deptford Does Art.
65 Cranbrook Road SE8 4EJ; thebrookmill.co.uk
4 The Guildford Arms, Greenwich
The large sunken garden at The Guildford Arms in Greenwich is a secluded oasis of calm surrounded by white birches, tall grasses and kitchen herbs. There are both terrace and lawn areas, which can be divided and reserved for special occasions, and there’s also a barbecue and outdoor bar. The wine list travels Europe and the New World and you’ll find Greenwich-brewed Meantime beers alongside seasonal guest ales on tap.
55 Guildford Grove SE10 8JY; theguildfordarms.co.uk
5 The Crown & Greyhound, Dulwich Village
The iconic Crown & Greyhound has been fully restored with glorious gardens to the front (great for people watching) and rear (leafy and relaxed). It’s a great spot for hungry folk, with a menu of contemporary British pub offerings from sharing plates to fish and chips, a good weekend brunch (everything from scrambled eggs with avocado and smoked salmon on toast to sausage butties) and Sunday lunch options. This grand old neighbourhood watering hole even has 20 boutique hotel rooms, should you need to rest your weary head.
73 Dulwich Village SE21 7BJ; thecrownandgreyhound.co.uk
6 The Half Moon, Herne Hill
The Half Moon is back! The once legendary live music venue that hosted everyone from Sinatra to U2 and La Roux, has had a rather middle-class makeover, but when the place looks as good as it does and the menu had gone full-on gastro, it’s hard to complain. Add in a cool beer garden with alfresco to boot and you won’t catch us complaining. There is still scope for the pub to host live music and cinema screenings in a rustic-looking outbuilding called the Workshop, so all is not lost on the events front.
10 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill SE24 9HU; halfmoonhernehill.co.uk
7 The Alma, Crystal Palace
The Alma is a really lovely pub. Another one built way back (1854) yet with a thoroughly modern approach, The Alma offers a relaxed, contemporary place to catch up with friends over a nicely priced Picpoul de Pinet and a Sunday roast… or a BBQ. Step outside to the rear and you’ll discover a huge beer garden with room for pretty much the whole of Crystal Palace. Summertime is when the BBQ menu comes into its own, offering all sorts of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes.
95 Church Road, Crystal Palace SE19 2TA; thealmapub.com
8 The Dial Arch, Woolwich
With all the familiar qualities of a Young’s pub – good ales, strong wine list, a mixture of restaurant-style seating, cosy booths and slouchy sofas, as well as board games to while away a lazy Sunday – this historic building has a large terrace just a stroll from the Thames. In fact, you should probably just move to Woolwich and make this your local – nestled within the new Royal Arsenal Riverside development, this is an area to keep an eye on as the buzz around Crossrail builds. Dogs welcome!
Number 1 Street, The Warren, Royal Arsenal Riverside SE18 6GH; dialarch.com
9 The Sail Loft, Greenwich
Peaceful waterside dining is a pretty rare find in London, but you’ll find it at The Sail Loft in Greenwich. This new Fuller’s pub serves up a brilliant brunch, with the likes of black pudding hash with fried hen’s egg, plus roasted field mushroom, spinach, butternut squash and sourdough on the menu. If the weather turns, head indoors where you can still enjoy a view of the Thames from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
11 Victoria Parade Greenwich SE10 9FR; sailloftgreenwich.co.uk
10 The Royal Standard, Blackheath
Elegant yet cosy, this pub has not one but two gardens where you can enjoy craft beers (check out their tap takeovers) and top-of-the-range fare. The main menu offers a superb selection of freshly prepared food using quality, seasonal ingredients along with a selection of light bites and classic favourites. The pub also serves up brunch and great Sunday roasts, and do look out for their brilliant special events, from open mic nights to live DJ sets.
44 Vanbrugh Park, Blackheath SE3 7JQ; royalstandardblackheath.co.uk
11 The Rye, Peckham Rye
The garden of this friendly local has reopened for summer with a new lawn, picnic tables and a brand new garden bar with Pimms on tap. You can chow down on the usual kitchen menu in the garden or enjoy the seasonal BBQ, fired up on summer weekends. There’s also table tennis and a petanque court, as well as new Slushy and Mr Whippy machines to help you indulge your sweet tooth.
31 Peckham Rye SE15 3NX; theryepeckham.com
12 The Herne Tavern, East Dulwich
The Herne Tavern has one of the largest pub gardens in south London. Following a revamp a couple of summers ago, it’s now filled with luscious fruit trees, which helps the kitchen keep things sustainable with a good supply of produce straight from the garden. With enough space for the kids to run about, regular summer BBQs and spot-on Yorkshire puds and slow-cooked pork belly on the Sunday roast menu, it’s definitely a spot you’ll want to frequent.
2 Forest Hill Road, East Dulwich SE22 0RR; thehernetavern.co.uk
13 Richard the First, Greenwich
The Richard 1st on Royal Hill has been a favourite since 1923, but it’s decor, drinks and ethos are very much of the teenies and the beer garden has just had a revamp that gives it an air of the great British seaside. And if the weather turns, just head indoors to the beautiful conservatory. As well as Young’s award-winning ales, craft beers, wines and spirits, there’s also a thoroughly decent menu. Oh and the joy of this place is that it’s right next door to Meantime’s Greenwich Union pub (which also has a beer garden), so if you fancy a bit of a pub crawl, that’s your first two stops right there.
52/54 Royal Hill, Greenwich SE10 8RT; richardthefirst.co.uk
14 The Princess of Wales, Blackheath
As the team at the Princess of Wales correctly point out, ‘Blackheath itself is one big pub garden’. As well as the courtyard out front, from where you can nod your calm approval over the expansive Heath, the pub also has a courtyard out back with covered and heated areas. Drinks-wise, choose from at least 20 specialty beers and ciders on tap and a world of wines.
1a Montpelier Row, Blackheath SE3 0RL; princessofwalespub.co.uk
15 The Crown Tavern, Lee
The Crown Tavern in Lee had a fantastic makeover last year and it looks great. Indoors, the spacious bar area hosts various styles of seating from ‘quick drink’ to ‘Sunday slouch’, there’s a bright, airy dining room to the rear, but it’s the beer garden that’s the show-stopper. Huge and colourful, with astroturf-style grass that never fails to be a dazzling shade of green, plus chunky colour-block picnic benches and spacious covered booths for those seeking shelter, it’s the perfect beer garden. It’s family-friendly, too, with fencing the whole way around to keep those little ones safe.
117 Burnt Ash Hill, Lee SE12 0AJ; thecrownlee.co.uk
16 The Tankard, Kennington
Formerly a Grand Union venue, this great pub on the corner of Kennington Road and Brook Drive by Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park now belongs to the expanding Draft House craft beer chain. They have a good range of strange and wonderful brews, as well as hearty food to match (snacks include Foot Long Pork Scratchings, Jalapeno Mac ‘n’ Cheese Balls and even Veggie Scotch Egg, as well as the likes of Beer Battered Cod, Chicken Schnitzel and Veggie Burgers). Draft House decided to regift the pub its original, Victorian era name – The Tankard – and it has has an awesome roof terrace with picnic benches and pergolas.
111 Kennington Road SE11 6SF; 020 7582 6685; grandunionbars.com
17 The Gipsy Moth, Greenwich
The Gipsy Moth’s pub garden, with room for 200 people, offers front-row views of the majestic Cutty Sark. Kick back and enjoy a perfectly mixed Hendricks G&T, a cool pint of Pilsner Urquell or sturdy Doom Bar, chill out with a Brothers Festival Pear Cider or select from the varied wine list. There’s also a large retractable cover to keep the weather at bay and in the summer they ﬁre up the BBQ.
60 Greenwich Church Street SE10 9BL; thegipsymothgreenwich.co.uk
18 The Lord Northbrook, Lee
The Lord Northbrook in Lee underwent a total transformation in 2011 and is now a smart, popular gastropub with a fantastic decked garden – perfect to linger over a couple of jugs of Pimm’s with friends – and great bar food such as homemade Scotch eggs and cheese and anchovy straws. There’s also a fab selection of ales from small local breweries and an extensive wine list.
116 Burnt Ash Road SE12 8PU; thelordnorthbrook.co.uk
19 The Crown, Blackheath
This one’s roadside, which normally keeps beer gardens off our favourites list (nobody loves sharing their prosecco with petrol fumes), but The Crown can’t be ignored for its sheer vibrancy. Located right at the top of Blackheath Village, a stone’s throw from the rolling greenery of the Heath, there are plenty of seats for you and your chums to gather and get a little giddy pre-sunset. an extra bonus – the circular picnic benches mean nobody’s stuck on the end all on their todd.
49 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath SE3 0BS; crownblackheath.co.uk
20 The Dolphin, Sydenham
The perfect spot to soak up the sunshine and summer twilights. Lee Stephenson and John O’Brien of Honor Oak-based Stephenson O’Brien Garden Design have created a contemporary take on the Tudor-style garden in the grounds of this popular local with a perimeter walk framed with a ‘falling’ steel pergola emerging from a yew hedge. The main body of the garden has a central circle where a water jet is flanked by four high-panel trees. The menu of ‘no nonsense’ dishes is cooked from scratch onsite and available in the open air from 5pm-9pm, with Sunday Roast served from midday to 4pm.
121 Sydenham Road SE26 5HB; 020 8778 810; thedolphinsydenham.com
21 The Commercial, Herne Hill
The secret beer garden at the back of The Commercial had a refurb last year and is now home to fresh plants and twinkling lights. It’s compact, but a decent sun trap, and it provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of Station Road, especially when the market’s in full swing. And isn’t a crisp glass of white wine or a refreshing pint just the antidote from a busy day of nibbling your way through the farmers’ market?
212 Railton Road , Herne Hill SE24 0JT thecommercialhotelhernehill.co.uk