Under the shadow of, what is for the moment, Western Europe’s tallest building lays the mismatched area of London Bridge. At once full of charming streets complete with village-like vibes and local bars – it is also home to industrial estates, council high rises and bleak dilapidated high streets. The trick, as with most places, is knowing where to go.
Sunny Side Up
Tuck into poached eggs, banana bread, smashed avocado or a full English at London Grind where the breakfasts are served all day. Perfect for early risers or late starters. They’ll also serve you some of best coffee this side of the Thames. However, if you find yourself wandering down the picturesque Bermondsey Street grab a flat white at Bermondsey Street Coffee.
Rumoured to be the home of some of London’s wealthiest inhabitants, Butler’s Wharf is well worth an exploration. What was once a warehouse and shipping dock is now a mini-metropolis of shops and restaurants.
You won’t do better than landing a water-side seat at either Butler’s Wharf Chop House (serving mouth-watering 28-day-aged charcoal grilled beef) or Le Pont de la Tour (for a more classic French experience).
Fresh Food Markets
London Bridge’s real pull over tourists comes from the world famous Borough Market where fresh produce is shouted from over-laden stalls, gigantic wheels of cheese are piled atop one another and vendors roast meats, toss large woks full of paella and fry succulent seafood.
Saturdays have become manic at Borough Market and if the crowds don’t appeal head to Bermondsey’s quieter Maltby Street Market. Here the produce is just as fresh but the crowds are locals and there’s a more leisurely pace to the day.
Gourmet London Bridge
Inside Borough Market - but at a lofty height about the mayhem - is the altogether more tranquil Roast. With some of the city’s best roasts as well as seafood and Bloody Marys this is an ideal Sunday spot. Around the corner the original Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House is charming cosy spot to sip on beer or champagne and throw back the freshest of oysters.
Away from the bustle of the market and station is the village-like Bermondsey Street with its own distinctive charm and gourmet spots. Head to José from early afternoon through till closing time for gorgeous wines and delectable tapas. Think seabream, morcilla de Ibérico and peppers or pisto, and duck egg. For a rustic Gallic lunch sit at the gingham clothed tables at Casse-Croûte or stroll further down to Village East where the food is wholesome and the cocktails ingenious.
Drink Up London Bridge
Cocktail enthusiasts should head to Hixter Bankside where they can perch at the U-shaped bar and order well-crafted classics as well as tasty bar snacks from the upstairs restaurant. Over at Tower Bridge the eccentric Bump Caves serves up a more scientific style drink using anything from sous vide syrups to rotary evaporators. Wine aficionados will take comfort in the stacked walls of Bedales of Borough while beer fans will find the tiny The Rake to be delight in unearthed craft brews. Equally Draft House by Tower Bridge and the unassuming Simon the Tanner both boast an excellent beer selection.
A guide to London Bridge wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the imposing glass structure of the Shard. Within this now-iconic landmark are offices, a hotel, bars and restaurants, homes and a panoramic viewing deck. Shoot up to floor 31 for Aqua Shard, Hutong, Oblix where you can lounge comfortable against the glass walls and pick out London landmarks or watch the trains winding their way out of the city. Higher still is Gong at The Shard on the lofty height of floor 52.