Just say ‘no’

After a spell of not going out much (at least, not going out in Camberwell), last night was our (overdue) monthly celebration of our marriage.

We decided to meet in Camberwell’s newest arrival, The Old Dispensary (325 Camberwell New Road, SE5 0TF; their web address just links to a design agency’s page, which isn’t helpful). It’s located right next to the Doctor’s Surgery and is painted a rich, chocolate brown outside.

From outside it looks quite small, but inside is larger than you think and has a beautiful high kind-of-domed ceiling (hey, I’m no architect) with a splendid chandelier. There are lots of mirrors and gilt fittings, strongly-patterned wallpaper (I couldn’t tell you which style, I’m not an interior designer either) the table-tops are marble effect and the seats all leather. In a word, it’s sumptuous. The shiny bar serves a range of imported beers (Stella, Staropramen, Leffe, to name a few).

What really gave me a handle on the place was the toilets; one stall but with enough space for a small group, and the cistern was flat, stomach-height and mirrored; perfect for cocaine use. Coupled with the slightly high bar price and the feeling of luxury, it’s obvious that this place is aimed at Camberwell’s more affluent residents. Thing is, I’m not sure there is a big market for that. I guess we’ll find out.

What else should I mention? Oh, they have a good range of bar snacks (for about £5 a dish) and a neat menu, although I didn’t see anyone eating and the place doesn’t seem ideal for it. I’d certainly go back there again, but I can’t see it becoming my local. Nicely placed for jumping off the 36 after work, however.

We stayed for a couple of drinks and left at about 8pm; in the hour-and-a-bit we were in there, there were perhaps seven or eight other customers. I’ve no idea how busy it gets later. We crossed the junction to the opposite corner and went to Mozzarella e Pomodoro (21–22 Camberwell Green, SE5 7AA), a spacious Italian restaurant.

Still being fairly early, it wasn’t too busy and we were seated in the middle of the floor. Along came the bread and olives (the bread was slighly stale) and we ordered a so-so Soave while we waited for the food. We had a starter of melon and Parma ham, the wife ate Canneloni (she ordered Ravioli but it was off, apparently) and I had Linguine di Mare. What can I say; it was… fine. Nothing really inspiring, nothing really terrible. Just… pretty good. And fairly reasonably priced; the whole bill came to about £40.

It was ok. I’d go back there again, but just for a bite after work, not for a special occasion. If you’re one of the area’s many students it would make a good place for a birthday meal, I think.

Speaking of which, I think I’ve decided where I’m going to have my birthday dinner: Rock‑8, the tapas bar on Grove Lane. Tapas is good for groups of people, and the bar is right by the side of Denmark Hill station. So that’s settled.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

5 thoughts on “Just say ‘no’”

  1. one of the best curry houses in camberwell must be the new dewaniam who sell really great food the food is so nice there on camberwell new road the best chcken tikka massalla ever!! give them a call on 07950918006

  2. Why do I get the feeling you work for ‘The New Dewaniam’, Tony?

    If you arrange for a free meal for me, I’ll review your restaurant here. I promise.

    That offer goes for any Camberwell-based restaurant; I have no principles where free food is involved.

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