A tale of two Cubes

The former Cube club/bar, sporadically open on the corner of Camberwell Grove and Church Street, has reopened as the grandly named Club Couture. I never went to Cube, although I went there on occasion many years ago when it was the anonymous club beneath the Greek restaurant, and the only place open after 11pm. I can only remember that it was small, and I was drunk.

Further down the road, the hairdresser, Cube (no relation) is to stay open and expand. The owner had planned to sell after 13 years in the area, but the deal fell through so he’s decided to open a tanning/massage/health area in the basement. I’ve been getting my hair cut at Cube (and its previous incarnation, Kut Klose) more or less since it opened (with a few years gap when I moved away), so I’m happy it’s staying.

In non-Cube non-news, still no word on what’s happening at Redstar, no signs of movement at Angels & Gypsies, and I’m still waiting for someone to provide a review of the toilet on the Green.

Author: Peter

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

68 thoughts on “A tale of two Cubes”

  1. I remember the Cube when it was a mexican restaurant for a time. Gosh, a few years ago now. Food was nice but pricey.

    Stacey at the other Cube is one of the best hairdressers in town, really good and a lovely local woman, lived most of her life in Camberwell area I think.

    Its a wonder we don’t cross paths more often Pete given we frequent the same places.

    Which pub do you tend to drink in on weekends? For us, its the Castle or if we feel energetic, the S & D or Phoenix. We should meet up again one day soon for a beer.

  2. Ah yes I remember the Mexican restaurant — shut down 2003/2004ish — it wasnt bad at all and something the area still lacks: there is a review at http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/restaurants/cohiba-review-6085.html

    In other developments I see that course Rhino sports has shut down; they have applied for a change of use to restaurant/ takeaway so thats something to look out for. Also the Old Dispensary is for sale.

    Does anyone know anything more about the proposed Italian cafe at Hartnells? Projected opening etc etc

  3. £350k seems cheap.

    That’s only about £2,000 per month.

    What do you think Mark. Dead duck or sound investment?

    What would people most like to see there?

    It seems that we are getting a tapas restaurant to replace Willow. Angels and Gyppos hasn’t even openend and they’ve already got competition.

    I hope they do well.

  4. I think that place would do best as a cafe-bar, or even just a cafe. It’s not set up well enough to be a gastro-pub, as they were trying to do, but would probably knock out loads of coffee for those who like it.

    If they added a little deli counter as well, I’d be more than happy; I don’t need much, just some decent ham & cheese.

  5. @SG: When we go out, we tend to go to the George Canning — the wife is a fan of their burgers. Less often, the Phoenix, and when the weather’s nice or on the way back from the Ritzy, the S&D. I’m not sure about The Castle; I don’t dislike it, it just doesn’t attract me.

    But yes, I think an Autumn meet-up should be a possibility.

  6. Call me Che Guevara, but at the Old D, I’d just like to see a commercial owner occupier.

    Truly revolutionary for Camberwell.

  7. Yeah, a nice cafe/bar might do it.
    Shame that place closed. It was just on the wrong side of the crossroads for it.

    Any experiences of Flying Fish?
    Sometimes it’s really good — nice better, decent portion, soft chips — sometimes I get a small bit of thin tail and I think — never again.

    It’s 50/50 at the moment.

  8. I went to the Seacow last week on Lordship Lane. It seems to be a poor imitation of the Flying Fish.

    It looks just like it but the portions are tiny and the mushy peas taste like normal peas that have been mushed up.

    Never again.

    I have preordered fish at the FF before. Great stuff. Forwarned is forarmed.

  9. I had haddock & chips from the FF last night, as it happens. Great fish, really well cooked, but the chips were a bit scraggy; hard to make a decent butty out of them.

  10. Guru — the dispensary is a truly terrible site. wrong side of the junction, steps up, narrow front door, awkward shape. dispensary or podiatrist is just about all that could go in there i think. or [with my revolutionary head on] a peppercorn rented office for camberwell arts?

    chin chin


    ps i’m off to sing beethoven for the queen — oops, did i say that already?

  11. Drew — you sum the Old D well.

    Business rates should — if accurately calculated — reflect this. But they are probably the same as for the Buckle. I’ve lobbied for a while now on that score, but it needs Southwark’s cooperation.

    D me if I hain’t.

    Alan — my chips, two years ago, at the Sea Cow were cardboard in texture, the fish unsucculent. All stainless steel, pretension, and diluted brand values, I felt.

    The same could be said for much of Lordship…

  12. Old D has a shocking location — just the wrong corner for footfall — perhaps a chemist ? or needle exchange — would draw plenty of punters!

    I agree about FF — sometimes very good — othertimes v bad — avoid it on Sundays as the unchanged/stale oil can make the chips & fish a vile experience. I think that he skimps on the quality of potatoes too ( have had some nasty soggy & green ones there )

  13. I have to say, I liked the Old D. (it was on the right side for me as I live nearear to the Oval). I am actually surprised that the packed in as it was always quite busy when i went in there.

  14. They should insist on an expansion of the pavement by pushing back the snooker hall as a condition of its redevelopment into flats and token shops, and giving back the community some space instead of meaningless 106 money.

    To give the Old D’s successor more of a chance by increasing the dwelling dynamic. The double D.

    But then they should do lots of things.

  15. Returning to a familiar theme on and off of this blog: property prices, there was an amusing article in the Times on Saturday referring I think to East Dulwich but making more general points about the regeneration of areas, the climax of which is the arrival of Foxtons — see http://tinyurl.com/353cdt

    Will that be Camberwell in 5–10 years time?

  16. @Peter

    An autumn meet up at the George Canning sounds fun.

    On a drizzly wintry day, us all sitting around a warm fire and drinking fine wine — Dagmar reading us some of his poetry, Drew singing us a song, very relaxing indeed.

  17. Old D is, as Drew points out, a totally no no site. That’s why ‘he’ (Ross) gave it up — because it didn’t work and it wasn’t making money — if it had been working it would still be open. There are too many no no’s about it to make it worth taking on for any purpose. It’s too out on a limb for any role to work there right now. If everything were to change in Camberwell — proper footfall and a circulation of people with a bit of cash, well, then, and only then, maybe, the site would have legs.

    350K for a massive financial liability seems rather steep to me.

  18. Ben Hill, you made a joke! It’s good!

    I was down your way today — the sunflower in the wasteground opposite the Eritrean church has died after reaching two foot. So I have the only photograph of it, I expect, which I hope to make into a bestselling Athena poster like the tennis girl one, except in this version she will have a great fat arse, if you follow me.

    Still, good news: there is a tall willow tree there, must have been planted I’d say 70–80 years ago, really big for a willow, fenced round, will grace the new development.

    Further on, past the park and into the Aylesbury — which with the Polish beer hangover now looks like Grosny, Chechnya — the convenience store with the Polish beer is on Rodney Street — it is the Tigris Supermarket. The woman in there told a customer said she had just been back to her country for five weeks. Would she go back again to live? “I don’t know, it’s not a happy place at the moment.”

    I bought six half-litre cans of various Polish beer for £6. Most were over 7% abv but are really, really good beers.

    The gap between off-trade and on-trade value is now a chasm.

    To sit by Burgess Park lake with a chilled 500ml can of Polish, nay, Moravian beer for a quid and watch the sunset is so much better than sitting in a pub talking to people.

    Join me, Ben. Just don’t bloody talk to me, that’s all.

  19. yeah Dagmar you old piss pot!
    By the way have you tried the delightful
    Scottish beer in the dark blue can?
    I think it has 9% so must be better than the Polish filth…also attracts the better sort of street drinker.

  20. No mention of home-brew, perfume or detergents. We should twin with Moskvoretsky district immediately to bring us up to speed.

    It’s all very well Camberwell having sub-standard infrastructure, policing, amenities and enforcement, but I draw the line at our street drinkers not being at the cutting edge.

  21. I’ve just been perusing that satirical periodical, Southwark Life (which should surely be renamed Southwark Death, in light of recent events).

    In it, “historian, author, librarian and community voice, Stephen Bourne” selects his favourite parts of Southwark. One of them is Camberwell police station, and I quote, “It represents security, safety and reassurance in the Camberwell community.”

    Now that’s funny!

  22. Nice one Norman. More fiction from the hack writers on Southwark Lib Dem Lite; crime rates falling? Safer streets? Are these guys serious?

  23. Morning kids. Spent a great night last night (I’m reliably informed) in The Bear on Camberwell New Road. It’s the old Jack Beard pub on the corner of Station Road.

    Re-opened in July as a gastro-pub(!), although the staff hate the term and don’t use it. Primarily a pub with surprisingly good food (Bavette with snail butter and duck fat potatoes anyone?)

    Huge selection of beers form around the world on tap and bottle, and decent prices even for the poncy beers: Pint of Leffe £3.70. Although very definitely the feel of a pub, the food is outstanding and there is a (discretionary?) 10% service charge for table service, so plays the role of restaurant too.

    It’s got everything except punters, so give it a go. It’s absolutely one of those that we should try to support.

  24. Hear, hear, for The Bear! Totally agree with the above. The whitebait there is the best I’ve ever had.

    I heard a rumour there’s a Time Out review pending, so hopefully it’ll be a good one and the place will pick up.

    Although that’s what I was told happened to Blakes (now the Dark Horse) — they got a great review, couldn’t cope with the demand, the service and quality of food went to pieces, and the place crashed.

  25. Haven’t eaten in the Bear yet. I ate at Blakes a few times; the first was when the upstairs was open, and the food was very good even if the portions were quite small. Second time the upstairs was closed, the menu limited, and the portions tiny. Soon after, it closed down. Never saw it very busy, however.

  26. sg, you said that Stacey from the Cube hairdressers is really good. Can anyone else recommend the Cube? Or any other good barber in the area? I’ve tried a few (Alfred’s, Alberto’s & The Cube) and have not been impressed. I currently use a good barber in Clapham Junction, (however, its location is no longer convenient due to a change in my job, so I’m looking for a good barber in Camberwell).

    Any recommendations greatly appreciated.

  27. Rosy (post 31)

    Why do I get the impression that you are a pr person acting on behalf of the pub?

    Maybe its the floral language which I have seen in recommendations for other pubs on sites such as beerintheevening.

    Maybe its the ‘conspiratorial wink’ type tone on the write up.

    I feel if so you should be declaring your relationship to the premises so that we may judge your opinions accordingly

    Besides I think if you read this website you will find that the Bear has already been mentioned several times — real reviews not ditsy pr speak!

  28. Mumu — it is not impossible that you are right, but the Bear deserves every break. It is situated on a decommunitised zone (otherwise known as fronting a red route), where TfL has control over every aspect of street and pavement management, lunging 10 metres into every side street too.

    These red route businesses are dropping like flies as TfL has no mechanism for consulting them or taking into account their needs, in clear violation of the Environmental Liability Directive.

    Dine at the Bear, and whilst there, propose a toast for a new’n in’t’mayoral post.

  29. I think the Bear is a fabulous pub and wish it every success in the future — on the two or three occasions Ive been there Ive had a good time — I just slightly object to the way that pr people try and pretend that they are honest consumers giving us tips on the product/service they are advertising. I think the verdict of this website is largely pro-Bear.

  30. I completely understand that, Mumu. That phenomenon irritates me, too.

    But with first-hand knowledge of the things a business has to deal with on a red route, I can easily forgive the Bear if this is the case… although it is not clear.

  31. Oh come on Reg. A pub is struggling due to being on a red route? Hardly. I’d hope throngs of people going to drink there are not driving.

    Could it not be that your little corner of Camberwell, like ours on Church Street, suffer because there aren’t enough punters? There are plenty of punters for the ‘jerk chicken type places’ bonbon complains about. I won’t suggest what he really means by that common comments by folks ’round here.

  32. Benhill — this is my view, which you are entitled to disagree with, but it is informed by experience.

    The design of the pavement and streetscene, including the street furniture, outside a business has a tremendous impact on its external ambience, of which there are broadly two types:

    1. where you are encouraged to dwell and browse; or

    2. where you feel pressured to move on by an atmosphere of thoroughfare, whether through narrow width of pavement, unnecessary street/pavement furniture or unchecked and illegal speed of through traffic.

    The red route streetscene design including the pavement is predicated on one exclusive scenario — the needs of the motorist. If is the discouragement of pedestrian dwelling and browsing that is the key factor here.

    There are those that accept Camberwell “as it is”, and those that rebel against its designation by TfL as an area of throughput, rather than a destination in its own right. The latter camp include those who are keen to see Camberwell’s rail station reopened, and/or a possible Bakerloo extension to Camberwell Green.

  33. Reg you’re smart and you care. I don’t begrudge you that or for trying. I went through all these same things in the old Forum years ago.

    Truth is, you could get all the changes you want in regards to parking, enforcement, street furniture, the lot. It wouldn’t suddenly make Camberwell overflow with shoppers and diners throwing money about.

    We campaigned hard on the transport issues. No avail. Bakerloo line ain’t comin’ here for a long time if ever. Train station maybe one day but expect the same split in “Camberwell” as we always see.

    What split? Well it’s all local isn’t it? Peter uses Denmark Hill so he’s behind the campaign to save the London Bridge station. Alan Dale the same, even though by his own admission he walks to work. But most folks in west and north, even central Camberwell aren’t bothered. I walk up Church Street to the Green and get a bus to the City in less time than going up Denmark Hill way, in to London Bridge, then walking/busing/tubing into the City. Denmark Hill Train Station is not a ‘Camberwell’ issue. It’s a Grove and South Camberwell issue.

    Reg lives over in the west so the Camberwell Train Station re-opening is high on his agenda. Folks to the South and east/north aren’t much bothered. You want see a special posting on this site urging people to sign a petition.

    That Tram thing never got any air play here or in the new Forum. Folks to the South, central, west, etc. aren’t much bothered about the north.

    So we all have our local concerns that are far more confined than ‘Camberwell’.

    I agree with you a lot of folks here don’t want things to change, though they like to complain a lot, and those who do. Those who do, however, I suggest are keen for something in their nook and cranny, not necessarily Camberwell.

    Doesn’t much matter. The only folks to get anything positive moving forward and engage a wider public and see some preliminary results appear to be the baths campaign folks. Not sure where it will end up but they’ve taken action, while the rest of us sit around and propose theories, signing the odd online peition (though for all the effort the current 170 equals about one morning carriage) and throw rocks at people like the baths campaign (and anyone actually DOING someting)

  34. it isn’t ‘bonbon’ as you say but ‘Bunbohue’ — if you had payed attention whilst lurking you might have found out what it means — have a look in Wikipedia?
    Also i made a remark about ‘fried chicken peri peri places’ this is a comment about the bandwagon folloeing the well known s.african owned portugese chicken chain, not demening the excellent cuisine of our Jamaican friends.
    Please do you research B4 casting aspertions.

  35. FYI, I cycle pretty much everywhere; the reason I’m reporting the Denmark Hill — London Bridge news is because I think it’s important for Camberwell as a whole, it being pretty much our only rail link. We’ve talked extensively about the possibility of the Camberwell train station opening, and about how the tram is passing us by on either side. Show me a campaign in favour of either of those, I’ll happily promote it — even if I never use the service for the rest of my life.

    Benhill, I’m sorry to say that I haven’t seen you provide any positive input on anything we discuss; all you do is pour cold water on whatever idea is raised, saying you’ve already tried it, it’s no good, and we don’t care anyway. Why don’t you give us the benefit of your experience and tell us how we can help effect change?

  36. yes Benhill — I’d have to agree with Peter, there.

    I could be wrong but I sense you are somewhat frustrated about having tried to effect change for many years in Camberwell but without much support / acknowledgement / success.

    I think we all recognise the efforts that you and others have made to try and improve things for all of us in Camberwell — the fact that we all don’t share your energy and commitment to trying to push for change shouldn’t be seen as a “we don’t bloody care, we just like to moan” statement.

    Rather, it probably reflects the fact that we each have very busy lives with other more important priorities right now.

    Like Peter, I enjoy living in Camberwell just as it is. However, like everyone on this blog, I also recognise that things could of course be better.

    But I’m not going to sit around bemoaning the fact and thinking the place is rubbish until those things are sorted out.

    I’m too busy enjoying the good things about Camberwell.

  37. I don’t want gratitude or recognition. I’ve admitted anything I’ve tried or any group I used to belong to tried failed. Yes, I am frustrated. Nothing seems to move anything along here. The old forum failed and the new one seems to have withered too. I didn’t have the energy to try again post the last implosion.

    Instead we’re always reacting. Save our police station, save our baths, save our trains, save our school. We’re spent so many years trying to keep what little we have that no group has ever managed to be proactive. People spew out a lot of ideas and throw rocks at what is, but no one ever manages to push anything forward.

    And a big reason is we all differ. And another big reason is this small chat site (and similar) represent only a very small minority in Camberwell and even here we can’t agree on anything.

    Probably time to go. And as much as you all are happy to see the cyber back of me, I am contemplating something I pledged never to do. I spent years defending this place and trying to do what asked in helping it move forward. It just hasn’t. It is no one’s fault and yes, there are good things about but our daily experience here is just no longer enough and the horizon is bleak, for us.

    I’m sure I’m unkindly blaming others when there is no one to blame. It just is what it is. Love it or leave it really is a good piece of advice about Camberwell. To want to change it in order to love it will kill you. Sort of like any human relationship. It’s a sad day for my wife and me. It was supposed to pan out differently.

  38. Benhill — it is unfair to reproach Peter’s blog for being something it is not (a campaign). He does fairly represent those Camberwell campaigns which take place, and initiate debate on social issues, but doesn’t purport to actually campaign.

    The Forum is a different question, and has a duty to show that during its existence it has fairly represented the problems of Camberwell North, West, East and South; of those that play and rest and those that work here. If we look back in the future and find that it did not do so, it can legitimately be called a failure.

    You are correct to identify geographical sectors of interest in Camberwell. Would that every campaigner understood that different approaches to localism is at the heart of our problems here. But I would make a simpler division: between the more civilised South and Centre, and the outerlying areas including North and West — the badlands, as another poster called it.

    The gulf between those whose interests are bound up in Camberwell throughout the day, such as traders and local public servants including NHS, and those commuters whose Camberwell perspective is principally one of leisure, is even more significant than that between Camberwell Grove and Southampton Way.

    If Camberwell is to move forward, we need recognition from each side of the divide of the other side’s issues and needs. Quid pro quo. Otherwise no hand-wringing about crime please, from whichever side.

    But you are also dealing with interests which are fundamentally divergent. Ask a trader whether he would prefer a 50% reduction in crime or a 20% rise in house prices, when the alternative would be static crime and house prices. Ask a mortgage-paying commuter the same question. You will tend to get a different answer. Or even — would you prefer a Japanese restaurant to open on Denmark Hill or one less killing in Brunswick if the supreme being gave you that choice?

    In general, there is nothing wrong with self-interest as a basis for campaigning for social change, where the two coincide. Humans are selfish — we need to work with that. I don’t judge anyone here, but happen to believe that my own self-interest qualifies me far better than the average poster here to pontificate what Camberwell needs, as a whole.

    But that position itself is open to attack — perhaps Camberwell should be styled entirely as a commuter community. That is also a view, and I do not judge anyone who holds it.

  39. Mumu — I don’t work in PR and have no relationship with The Bear or it’s management. I am a local punter who before the summer months was a more regular contributor to this site.

    While I’m evidently burdened with a flowery tongue, I’ll try to keep the ‘knowing’ winks to a minimum in future. I can also readily keep my posts monsyllabic or fluff the odd spelling if that would make them seem more genuine to you.

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