Here are our favourite London Bridge restaurants. The best foodie spots include shopping at Borough Market, homemade pasta at Padella and French bistro Casse Croute. Check out our ideas for eating and drinking in London Bridge, from Borough Market to Bermondsey Street...
In a nutshell: Following a two-year stint in Neal’s Yard, Native brings zero-waste, forage-focussed dining to London Bridge.
Who's cooking? Head chef Ivan Tisdall-Downes fine-tuned his skills at River Cottage HQ and New York’s Blue Hill Farm before bringing his wild-food cookery ethos to London in 2016.
What's the vibe? A two-minute walk from bustling Borough Market, Native brings a welcome note of calm to busy Southwark Street. Stems of flowers cast delicate shadows on white-washed walls while grey stone tables are generously spaced. Low-hung filament bulbs and wooden bench seats strewn with cosy blankets bring warmth to the spacious room.
What's the food like? Two and three-course menus are on offer along with a tasting menu. Zero-waste snacks are brought out to begin, our favourite crisp crackers topped with dollops of creamy labneh and dusted with flecks of vibrant cured egg yolk.
Dunk squidgy chunks of focaccia bread in olive oil before moving onto delicate starters. Home-grown courgette stalks came with a creamy yet tangy mushroom ragu topped with fresh ricotta and a sprinkle of crispy fried breadcrumbs, while slices of scorched, meaty mackerel were lifted with cubes of cucumber and a subtly sweet whey foam.
For mains, tender veal (sourced from Sussex) was served with al dente discs of courgette, a creamy buttermilk sauce and a scattering of toasted hazelnuts, but the roasted carrot served with perfectly crisp tempura carrot tops and dusted with dukkah, was the standout.
Dessert options are limited to two, so try both. A quenelle of rich white chocolate crémeux came with a light sprinkle of nutty granola, a sweet Kentish strawberry and a well-balanced, slightly bitter mugwort sauce. While those with less of a sweet tooth should try the meadowsweet and sunflower seed cake.
And the drinks? A small selection of aperitifs are on offer, so go for a Melilot Mule made with Native’s own vodka, lime and fiery ginger beer to start. Although not exclusively English, the wine list celebrates wines grown in the UK – we enjoyed a smooth Three Choirs Winchcombe Downs with peachy notes.
olive tip: Portions are small, so order the squidgy dark chocolate truffles flavoured with floral honey as a post-dessert indulgence.
Listen to our podcast interview with Native here...
Reviewed by Ellie Edwards
Padella, Borough Market
Padella’s short menu features eight handmade, fresh pasta dishes, inspired by the greatest hits that have made Padella’s sister restaurant Trullo in Highbury one of the most accomplished and respected neighbourhood restaurants in London. With a laidback atmosphere and reasonable prices, Padella is the perfect place to escape the tourists at Borough market.
Showcasing classic Italian techniques, the simple menu is built around slow-cooked sauces and ragus from the owners’ travels around Italy. Traditional pici cacio e pepe, a simple, yet brilliantly executed dish of parmesan, lemon and black pepper is an example of how confident the team are in their products. Made without egg, for a slightly doughier texture, the pasta acts as a magnet to the sauce. We loved it so much we asked them for the recipe, try it here.
Padella’s signature dish though, is pappardelle with eight-hour Dexter shin beef ragu, and it’s easy to see why. The rich and succulent flavour of the slow cooked, fall-apart beef combined with the juicy fresh tomatoes and just the right amount of garlic makes the sauce the real hero here.
With traditional Italian flavours at the heart of the menu, from Dexter beef carpaccio to bruschetta with baked borlotti beans, there’s plenty to please. Burrata fans won’t be disappointed – the Italian classic is sourced by artisan supplier L’Emporio fine foods and simply drizzled with Tuscan Chiarentana estate olive oil.
Finish off with an espresso, the only coffee Padella serve, or add a shot of grappa or sambuca for a caffe corretto, in true Italian style.
Bar Douro, Flat Iron Square
This wine bar/restaurant fuses traditional Portuguese cervejaria interiors with original industrial features from the London Bridge railway arches – pretty blue and white tiles line the marble-topped bar that provides the only barrier between diners and the small open kitchen, while exposed aluminium piping in the curved railway arch roof becomes part of the decoration. A mezzanine level cleverly utilizes the space at the top of the arch’s curve to showcases the owner Max’s impressive Portuguese wine collection.
Max speaks with great knowledge and enthusiasm about wines from Alentejo, Lisbon and The Douro Valley, along with lesser-known Portuguese winemaking regions that he aims to put on the map.
Small plates at Bar Douro are true to Portuguese traditions, with a few of chef Tiago’s modern twists – tender grilled octopus tentacle was served with sweet potato as it is in tabernas across Tavira in the Algarve (try our Portuguese fish stew for a taste of this kind of cooking), bitter grelos (turnip tops) were sautéed with wafer-thin slices of fried garlic, and suckling acorn-fed Bisaro pig was cooked sous-vide then pressed and served, true to tradition, with homemade crisps. Another standout dish was a delicate mix of wild mushrooms (king oyster, Portobello, shiitake) served with roast chestnuts on a silky chestnut purée and topped with a delicate tempura spinach leaf.
Save room for pudding. We had a preview of a super light olive oil cake, beautifully presented with jewel-like pieces of quince and swirls of whipped requesón (a Portuguese ricotta-like cheese). But, go all out with baba de camelo, a bowl of thick, creamy dulce de leche mousse decorated with wafer thin pieces of dark chocolate, or keep it traditional with gooey warm pastel de nata and lightly spiced cinnamon ice cream.
Casse Croute, Bermondsey Street
You'll be lucky to bag a table at this tiny French bistro on foodie Bermondsey Street. From the moment of calling up to book, you're greeted with French charm and a friendly "Bonsoir". Bookings are scribbled across white paper covers to save the gingham table cloths beneath from crumbs and butter. Which the chefs at Casse Croute don't hold back on. A whole sole comes drizzled in the stuff, lamb shoulder with slow-cooked ratatouille has a generous helping, and the mash is whipped up with more butter than potato, just how we like it.
In true neighbourhood bistro style, a short menu of French classics is chalked up on the black board. The selection of three starters may feature refreshing salades nicoise, chunky game terrines and silky salmon rillettes. Mains are simple yet well executed, focusing on the classics – bavette with creamy gratin dauphinois potatoes, hake on a bed of fennel, roast chicken with crunchy green beans – while the indulgent, cream-heavy desserts are worth leaving room for. Try mille feuille, crêpes suzette, apple tart, and luxurious chocolate fondant.
Nestle in to a red leather banquette, sink a carafe of French wine, and give an in-the-know nod of appreciation to your neighbour (you may be touching shoulders, after all).
Tap & Bottle wine bar, Flat Iron Square
Wine enthusiast Ned Neville-Rolfe has brought a unique concept to London Bridge with a selection of wines available on tap in a Georgian townhouse in Flat Iron Square.
At any given time Tap & Bottle will boast four reds, four whites, two rosés and even the odd sparkling wine on tap, ensuring drinkers are getting great value in an eco-friendly way. Try rich Spanish reds or floral, citrussy viognier from Ventoux in France. If you want to stick to buying by the bottle, Ned has a carefully curated cellar list catering to all tastes, from young and flinty Loire whites to prestigious reds including bold Barbaresco.
Ned has kept a rustic feel to the Grade II listed Georgian townhouse – exposed brick walls adorned with gilt-framed mirrors wrap around higgledy piggledy rooms furnished with wooden pews, wonky stools and vintage velvet chairs. Tap & Bottle’s hidden outdoor deck nestles between the pretty brick townhouse and Flat Iron Square’s thriving railway arches. Cosy up in a nook with a glass, or take a bottle to the terrace and soak up the sunshine.
There’s no food at Tap & Bottle but the terrace connects to Flat Iron Square’s food court, and Ned encourages punters to grab food from one of the street-food stalls to bring back and enjoy with a glass of wine. We recommend Ekachai’s wok-fried noodles or Spanish pork belly bao buns from contemporary Spanish joint EDū.
Where The Pancakes Are, Flat Iron Square
This is a pancake house with serious style. Following various residencies in London, Dutch Patricia Trijbits is happy to finally welcome diners to her first permanent space in Flat Iron Square, a collection of newly converted railway arches near London Bridge. A custom-built oak bar and kitchen area along with wooden tables and seats based on retro Dutch school chairs give the space a calming Scandi feel. The railway arch is warmed up with a whole wall of white felt cut outs and ceiling planters that brim with greenery to intermingle with modern light installations.
As it says on the tin, this clean and bright spot specialises in stacks of buttermilk pancakes. Where The Pancakes Are takes pride in its sourcing of ingredients, with high welfare eggs from Kent, organic flour and 100% pure maple syrup, hand-tapped in Quebec, Canada (plus, it’s packed with minerals and antioxidants). A 1,000 Baby Greens might sound overly healthy for a pancake joint, but in reality it’s a wonderfully fresh, flavoursome dish that incorporates green chilli, spring onions and cumin into a buttermilk pancake batter. There’s a pleasant underlying heat that woke us up just as much as a morning coffee would, and a knob of melting coriander lime butter on top of our stack added zing.
Although he worked at Michelin-star level with the likes of Marco Pierre White and Pierre Koffmann, former British soldier Richard Turner’s name is now synonymous with barbecuing. “I first started cooking over live fire 10 years ago in the gardenof my pub, The Albion in Islington,” says the executive chef of the Hawksmoor restaurant group, which has sites in London and Manchester.
“I bought a huge barbecue to cope with the seasonal fluctuations of the pub and acquired a reputation as a live-fire cook.”
He prefers to use fruit woods, particularly apple and cherry, although the restaurant group’s decision to cook this way was “a happy accident” as their original Spitalfields site inherited a charcoal grill from the previous Turkish restaurateurs.
“To be honest, as a business, it is rather expensive. A live-fire restaurant needs state-of-the-art extraction and filtration, which can add hundreds of thousands of pounds to the cost of your kitchen build.”. thehawksmoor.com
Tucked down The Old Union Yard Arches, in a brick-exposed railway arch, Bala Baya is a new Tel Aviv-inspired restaurant in Southwark. It’s the first solo venture from Eran Tibi, who cut his teeth at Ottolenghi. Like Eran, who had us ‘sampling’ bitter orange vodka shots on a school night, it’s lively and energetic, and I have no doubt that over time the restaurant will become a staple on the London dining scene.
Coya, Angel Court
Coya offers modern Peruvian cuisine in a stylish pisco lounge setting, right in the heart of The City, London. From the owner of successful Knightsbridge restaurant Zuma, a high-end Japanese, luxurious Coya had its first residency in Mayfair, has since opened in Dubai, Miami, and now at a new location in London.
The star of the show was yellow fin tuna ceviche with soy and sesame–salty and a real palate cleanser–and cuttlefish with fiery, fresh ginger and dramatic squid ink. For dessert, go for the dark Peruvian Fortunato chocolate fundido with a cooling passion fruit ice cream. Intense and decadent, and surprisingly moreish, it’s ideal for sharing.
Duddell’s, Thomas Street
A slick, fine-dining restaurant that serves show-stopping Cantonese food in an equally impressive setting. The peking duck was spot on: perfectly tender meat and expertly bronzed, crispy skin. We also loved the theatricality of how it was served, carved dextrously at the table by our waiter. The lobster supreme noodle was another showstopper, highlights including soft, perfectly cooked crustacean and an intense, bisque-like sauce.
Arthur Hooper's, Borough Market
Set up in a former Victorian fruit and veg wholesaler’s premises, known by the same name, restaurant and bar Arthur Hooper’s celebrates what once was with innovative fruit- and veg-centric European small plates, with ingredients sourced from and via the market on its doorstep.
Under arches, on the periphery of London’s Borough Market, Arthur Hooper’s small restaurant and bar spills outside to a seating area facing energetic street vendors and the general market area. Inside its tall ceilings, illuminated floor-to-ceiling glass cupboards, cool grey and black walls and dimly lit decor sets the scene. Black banquette seating with separate tables are surrounded by high tables and chairs, while at the corner bar you can grab a drink or dinner.
Having cut her teeth at London Italian minimalist restaurant Zucca, chef Lale Oztek's menu suits the venue to a tee with a selection of 15 or so small plates divided into meat, fish and vegetables with the latter holding the most options and variety, as well as permanent cheese and cured meats plates and ‘bites’; buttery Nocellara olives, Vinci olives, smoked almonds for £3-4, and a short specials board.
The cheese and cured meats plates serve two-three slices of each with a couple of pieces of crostini and a pickle or chutney made in house. There’s a choice of four cheeses and the same number of meats, and the selection is a cut above the norm: we had Welsh blue cheese Perl Las and a Welsh salami-like lamb merguez.
Changing around four times a season, the menu takes into account what’s available in Borough Market and includes a wine list detailing mostly European wines with some interesting choices from Slovenia and Portugal.
Shangri-La at The Shard
If The Shard had toes, they would tickle Borough Market, from where the splendidly high-rise hotel sources much of its produce. Initial impressions of main restaurant, TING (on level 35), are magnificent: the lift doors open onto a spectacular and uninterrupted panorama of London, dominated at first by St Paul’s Cathedral. Low tables and armchairs are sensibly arranged to soak up as much of the view as possible.
The food lives up to the view: Dorset crab, cucumber, mango, passion fruit and tomato to start; organic lamb loin with sake, soy, Erengi mushroom, apple and shiso to follow. Sommelier Anne Lomas is unstuffy and approachable despite the glam surroundings. The ground floor’s Lang sells yuzu cheesecake to eat in or take away.
Don’t leave without visiting Gong, the highest bar in London; and with a pool, too. Try The Big Smoke, a gin, sherry and vermouth cocktail served in a dramatic, smoked-at-table martini glass.
TING at Shangri-La also does a fabulously exotic twist on afternoon tea. If you’re open-minded, enjoy Asian food, and would prefer to gaze across a sparkling city rather than a Victorian dining room, then you can’t get much better.
Diners have the choice of a traditional afternoon tea or an ‘Asian-inspired’ afternoon tea… the latter reigns supreme, with fat, moreish steamed prawn dumplings and delicate crab soft rolls in place of finger sandwiches. Service is spot on – after loudly complimenting our dumplings, we were quickly presented with another piping hot batch to enjoy.
Baz & Fred, Flat Iron Square
Baz and Fred’s pizza started as a mobile catering company but has set up a permanent residence at Flat Iron Square. The stone-baked pizzas are cooked using a Chadwick Oven, designed by Dan Chadwick in the Cotswolds, resulting in fluffy, crunchy crusts.
Set away from the high-rise office blocks of Southwark you’ll find the busy Flat Iron Square food market with long, communal wooden benches, exposed brickwork and mismatched vibrant metal furniture.
The menu is short, with five options plus a special, and are mostly meat focused, with only one veggie option. Choose between a classic tomato and mozzarella; a spicy chorizo, ‘nduja and mozzarella; a Napoli salami, pesto, chilli and mozzarella; a prosciutto, Portobello mushroom and mozzarella; or goat’s cheese, caramelised onion, rocket and balsamic. There’s only San Pellegrino (blood orange or lemon) on offer to drink, but you can order something stronger, should you wish, at the bar opposite.