Summer means lazy, hazy afternoons in the sun, but sometimes a picnic in the park just doesn’t cut the mustard, so The Resident has picked out south east London’s best alfresco dining spots for long languid lunches
Lead image: Crown & Greyhound, Dulwich Village
Words: Trish Lesslie & Victoria Purcell
1 Crown & Greyhound, Dulwich Village
Brand new and straight in at number one is the long-awaited, new-and-improved version of the Crown & Greyhound. Retaining its period features, the iconic neighbourhood pub has been fully restored with glorious gardens to the front and rear, and even 20 boutique hotel rooms. The new menu includes contemporary British pub offerings, from starters to sharing plates and classics like fish and chips, as well as brunch (everything from scrambled eggs with avocado and smoked salmon on toast to the classic sausage buttie) and Sunday lunch options come the weekend. Fresh seasonal produce is carefully sourced, from sustainably caught fish to the best cuts of meat and top quality veg.
73 Dulwich Village SE21 7BJ; 020 8299 4976; thecrownandgreyhound.co.uk
2 The Half Moon, Herne Hill
Another local favourite that’s had a huge overhaul is The Half Moon. After a disastrous flood forced the pub’s closure in 2013, the future of one of south London’s most legendary pubs looked uncertain. But the Grade II listed boozer reopened to much fanfare in March 2017. There’s a large alfresco seating area to the front and a whopper of a beer garden to the rear, both of which are packed as soon as the sun makes an appearance. The kitchen, headed up by Mike Blizzard, formerly of Shotgun BBQ, Avenue Restaurant & Bar and Bar Boulud, will serve traditional pubs classics with a contemporary twist and Sunday roasts that include sharing platters.
10 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill SE24 9HU; halfmoonhernehill.co.uk
3 The Crown Tavern, Lee
The Crown Tavern in Lee had quite the makeover last autumn, and now it’s finally time to fully appreciate the lovely green space out front. Astro turf means that the grass is always green and colourful, blocky tables look cheery and modern. The area is walled off and only accessible via the pub, which means the kids can run around safely. You can enjoy a lazy brunch until the afternoon and the Sunday roasts look good too – 21-day aged British sirloin, rare-breed pork loin and lemon-and-thyme-roasted, all served with a double egg Yorkie, goose fat roasties, seasonal greens and ale gravy.
117 Burnt Ash Hill, Lee SE12 0AJ; 020 8857 6607; thecrownlee.co.uk
4 The Guildford Arms, Greenwich
Tucked away in a quiet, residential part of Greenwich, The Guildford Arms has a roomy sunken garden to the rear. White birches, tall grasses and kitchen herbs combine to create a calm, quiet escape, with both lawn and terrace areas for drinkers and diners. The BBQ fires up come summer, serving up the likes of butterflied leg of salt marsh lamb with green olive tapenade, harrisa chicken thigh with labneh and grilled Mediterranean vegetables.
55 Guildford Grove, Greenwich SE10 8JY; 020 8691 6293; theguildfordarms.co.uk
5 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
6 400 Rabbits at The Lido, Herne Hill
Nestled in the corner of Brockwell Park, Brockwell Lido is one of south London’s absolute gems with glistening blue waters, art deco surrounds and palm plants giving the place an almost Mediterranean feel. The lovely poolside Lido Cafe was taken over by south east London pizza maestros 400 Rabbits last year, so pizza and a swim is definitely one for those sunny summer days. The menu is conveniently divided into vegan, meaty and cheesy pizzas, and they really are some of the best in south London. The Rhubarb one is particularly novel…
Dulwich Road, Herne Hill SE24 0PA; 020 7737 8183; 400rabbits.co.uk
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7 The Rye, Peckham Rye
The garden of this friendly local is probably Peckham’s best beer garden. This summer it has a cool little Asahi pop-up bar outside and you can chow down on the usual kitchen menu in the garden or enjoy the seasonal BBQ, fired up on summer weekends. The are usually garden games to play, as well as live music on weekends.
31 Peckham Rye, SE15 3NX; 020 7639 5397; theryepeckham.com
8 The Royal Standard, Blackheath
Elegant yet cosy, this pub has not one but two gardens where you can enjoy craft beers 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.
44 Vanbrugh Park, Blackheath SE3 7JQ; 020 8858 1533; royalstandardblackheath.co.uk
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. The relatively 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; 020 8222 9310; sailloftgreenwich.co.uk
10 Crane’s Kitchen at SLG, Camberwell
A cute little café complete with a charming alfresco dining space – what could be more perfect? If a peaceful, laid-back meal appeals, then this is the place for you. The contemporary neighbourhood restaurant and café serves breakfast and lunch, as well as coffees and wine. Open 8am–5pm with food served from 8.30am–4pm.
67 Peckham Road SE5 8UH; 020 7252 7649; craneskitchen.co.uk
11 The Florence, Herne Hill
Herne Hill’s The Florence is a grand old dame of a pub, opposite Brockwell Park and just a short walk from the much-loved Lido. In the summer they open up the outside bar and host weekend BBQs (weather permitting, of course), serving proper pub food using seasonal produce and a range of rotating ales. It’s family friendly, dog friendly, and date-night friendly.
131 Dulwich Road SE24 0NG; 020 7326 4987; florencehernehill.com
12 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, Woolwich SE18 6GH; dialarch.com
13 Rocca di Papa, Dulwich Village
With a lovely terrace out the front that’s perfect for people watching, a herb garden and more seating at the back, there’s no shortage of outdoor spaces at Rocca di Papa. With a sister restaurant in South Kensington, this great little Italian restaurant serves traditional dishes and great pizzas. If you opt for pizza, it will be baked in the wood-fired oven, built over four weeks by three craftsmen who travelled from Naples to do the job.
75-79 Dulwich Village SE21 7BJ; 020 8299 6333; roccarestaurants.com
14 Davy’s Wine Vaults, Greenwich
What could be better than great food and fine wine? Well, how about sitting outdoors while enjoying the pairing? Davy’s Wine Vaults in Greenwich is the ideal spot for oenophiles to while away a balmy evening over a tasting. They also serve up a mean weekend brunch.
161-165 Greenwich High Road SE10 8JA; 0871 971 4086; davy.co.uk
15 The Dolphin, Sydenham
The perfect spot to soak up the sunshine and summer twilights. The contemporary take on the Tudor-style garden in the grounds of this popular local is set within 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 to enjoy outside.
121 Sydenham Road SE26 5HB; 020 8778 810; thedolphinsydenham.com