Caravaggio & The Hermit’s

Saturday afternoon the wife & I — at a loose end, hungry, and emboldened by the positive comments already posted here — decided to check out the latest addition to the burgeoning gastronomic scene in Camberwell, the Italian restaurant Caravaggio, on Camberwell Church Street.

If I eavesdropped correctly, it’s been opened by a former employee(?) of Mozarella & Pomodoro (and is seemingly in competition, therefore). It’s decorated in a much more modern, gastropub‑y way than its sensei, in warm tones of brown and cream, with lots of wallpaper and classic artworks throughout. In front are smaller cafe tables, while the large room at the rear has bigger tables for dining.

Food is basically panini and pasta; the wife had sausage in a tomato sauce, I went for mushroom ravioli. Both were good; not excellent, but good. Hers was a little spicy for her taste, mine a little small for mine. But for approximately a fiver each, we were pretty satisfied. I then had a nice custard tart for dessert, while she ate a delicious home-made tiramisu. Plus a juice each, coffee and hot chocolate, the whole thing came to about £18.

We were pretty impressed by the experience, so on the whole it’s a welcome addition to the area. Whether our limited market can support two Italian restaurants is a different matter.

Took a quick walk through Butterfly Walk afterwards, and saw that another two shops have closed/are closing. That leaves about five empty units in there, which is a scandalous situation for what should be the prime shopping area. Something is not right there.

Then into the Hermit’s for a pint of Westons and a read of the paper in front of the roaring-effect fire. I like the Hermit’s scruffy charm, although I rarely go there because it’s marginally out of easy walking distance. With all the bars and gastros around, it’s nice to have a no-frills boozer as an option.

But did I really see a statuette of an old lady holding what seems to be, from a distance, a large — *ahem* — penis? Can any regulars confirm that, or was it just a product of my over-active imagination?

Finally, the Camberwell Grove railway bridge gets its own comment piece in The Guardian today.

Author: Peter

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

69 thoughts on “Caravaggio & The Hermit’s”

  1. Peter Preston lives locally and would probably like to drive up and down Camberwell Grove. Fair ‘enuff.

    I live a few streets away towards Peckham, and quite like that the bridge is shut. There’s less traffic across the whole neighborhood and it’s safer and more pleasant to take the kids to school (Lyndhurst primary).

  2. Pedestrianise it.

    It’s only when you live in London that you realise the huge London bias in the media. As if the Guardian should be running an article about a closed road bridge in Camberwell. Trying to pass it off as some sort of critique of the legacy of Thatcherism is really weak.

    Hermit’s Cave is a personal favourite.

    Great news about Caravaggio. Now we just need Angels and Travellers to open up and we’ll be riding high.

    The Bear is grabbing everyone’s attention. O Galo has finished its facelift too. This town is really going places!

  3. Nail on the head, D‑MAN. How unusual for a journalist not to declare his interest, though.

    Amen, Alan.

    The only thing wrong with Nimbyism is that it isn’t everywhere. Then it becomes localism.

    For now and the foreseeable future, the private motorist will continue to take up a disproportionate share of the capital’s resources and space.

  4. Am planning on trying Caravaggio next weekend. Tried Sun & Doves for the first time this Sunday, really impressed. Had a very nice moroccan lamb stew. Don’t like the scary artwork that’s in there at the moment though.

  5. Hi I attended the meeting and thought he was right. Mainly about the sheer ignorance of the Executive member. He was terribly unprepared and to me, it offered a fantastic opportunity for a community group to really drive home how out of touch the Council is on Camberwell. Sadly, the SE5 Forum made no formal showing and hasn’t really even picked up on it. While I don’t think the bridge itself is a Forum concern, this was another missed opportunity to flex some muscle and underscore how the Executive neglects a huge swath of their constituency.

  6. OffGrove — Preston can’t possibly be right about the rat runners being “all of us… at one time or another”, since the majority of households in the surrounding area do not contain car owners. Pure motoring lobby duplicity.

    Another rat-runner talked about the Grove being “open for 300 years as a thoroughfare”, as if a Hansom travelling 15 mph were equivalent to a 4x4 “Destroyer”, “Scavenger” or “Avenger” travelling 60 mph without noticing the speed bumps. Risible.

    It sounds like the motoring lobby itself was present at that meeting, using shout-down tactics and trying to strangle all reasonable debate. Not a productive meeting for the Forum pending its current reorganisation.

    Who was the Executive member concerned?

  7. The Grove being shut in the way it is is also a pain in the posterior to us two-wheel users (both motorised and not in my case) Surely the point is that the council/authority/whoever should abide by the law and if a change of use/closure/whatever is necessary then do it via the proper channels rather than usaing the bridge repairs as an underhand tactic to sneak a closure through in an underhand manner …

    In other news — go east for your nearest literary festival:

  8. @6 I have never driven a car up or down CG, merely a bike. So why do you assume I am a rat-runner? My interest is to reduce the impact on the surrounding roads, which have become appalling rat-runs. There is a point I think that when you interfere with ancient thoroughfares in an ad hoc way, you can have an exponentially bad affect on surrounding roads which are essentially residential. It is palpable to anyone who lives in this area (as Mr Guru you do not) that this is the case here. Rather odd that someone as obsessed as you are with the deleterious impact of cars on residential streets should take this line (risible even). Anyway, move along: this issue is dead. The bridge will open, and the area will be better for it.

  9. Good points from dickdotcom.

    Florian, no offence. My hope was always that the Grove — if it reopened at all — would reopen with a 20mph limit which would have a domino effect on neighbouring residential streets. Then, out with the speedguns, community wardens.

    I was also interested in what position OffGrove wanted the Forum to adopt, and what its presence could have achieved?

    Surely waving a placard saying “the Executive is crap” would not be conducive to longer term effective lobbying?

  10. Florian, the phrase is “move on” not “move along” which is what coppers used to be able to say legally to whingeing busybodies in the street without being required to resign.

    Cycling is great but does not make you great. Most cyclists are a pain in the arse, in ratio to the amount of safety gear and campaigning stickers and badges they wear.

    I would also take issue with the following words you have used:

    Mr Guru you do not

  11. Dagmar:

    “most cyclists are a pain in the arse” … would you care to expound on this point — are you accusing cyclists of being a pain for wearing too much safety gear?????

    Why is it that cyclists attract so much more criticism than other road users??

    I’ve yet to recover from watching Top Gear on Sunday (for perhaps the first time ever) when they staged a bike vs car vs tube vs boat race from Kew Bridge to London City Airport and The One Who Nearly Died won … on a bicycle …

  12. I cycle but I generally hate the cycling brigade.

    They never, ever take criticism. If you give it, they respond with ‘but drivers…’ They fundamentally believe cars are evil, should be banned and cycling is superior.

    Give it a rest. I like cycling. But I take on board many cyclists are rubbish. Cars are essential. We all rat run. Even if our taxi driver does it for us on the odd occasion.

  13. I also cycle, but I’d be the first to admit there are a lot of idiotic cyclists — such as the woman I saw going around the Elephant & Castle roundabout talking on her phone.

    However, there are just as many idiotic pedestrians and motorists (such as the man I saw last week eating a bowl of cereal while driving), so I’m not sure why cyclists get singled out for abuse.

  14. I don’t think they do.

    Local paper did a huge bit on dangerous drivers once. They showed photos of drivers on phones, in bike lanes, stopping in bus lanes. Really bad stuff. They drivers deserved it. The editorials and online chat was damning. Everybody admitting how rubbish drivers can be.

    Few weeks later, they do the same on cyclists. The editorials and chat boards lit up with ‘why do you single us out, what about drivers blah blah blah’.

    Just an example of how cyclists can’t take criticism. The hardened warrior ones.

  15. Cycling is the way to go.

    The “cycling brigade” is, in the round, a mellow group. Riders get irate with dumb ass car drivers. That’s their moral right.

  16. Eating a bowl of cereal? That’s so absurd I’m almost impressed. You didn’t happen to notice what sort, did you? I’m guessing Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

    My £0.02-worth on cyclists, speaking as both a regular cyclist and occasional driver:

    Why do cyclists get singled out? In part, I think, it’s the habitual law breaking of so many and the increasing numbers who ride with a recklessness by no means matched by their skill.

    However — and this to me is the clincher — when I’m driving I’m constantly, painfully aware I’m in charge of a tonne-plus of blunt metal. One lapse in concentration and I could kill someone. On a bike I could kill myself at more or less any moment but the chances of me seriously hurting another road user is surprisingly small.

    That said, when cycling I obey (just about) every road rule. I think habitual jumping of lights creates a gradual climate of uncertainty for pedestrians, especially older ones.

    I spend half my life giving withering looks to cyclists crossing reds the opposite way to me. Thus far it’s had little impact on their behaviour.

  17. Well said! As neither a cyclist or a car driver i often suffer the effects of bad cyclists and bad car drivers (especailly when attempting to cross Camberwell Green) While both parties should be criticised and penalised i believe bad drivers shold be more so as they are much more likely to kill people as a consequence of their selfishness and poor driving.

  18. As a cyclist myself and someone involved in cycle campaigning I will freely admit that there are bad cyclists and a ‘holier than thou’ attititude put over by some of my cycling comrades which is detrimental to cyclists’ cause.

    However as Peter says there are an even greater number of bad drivers and potentially they can cause death and serious injuries. And in many cases cyclists are drivers too and so would not want cars banned — just a change of culture to recognise and promote the role of bikes. Increasing cycling would make the whole city more pleasant.

    London has one of the lowest rates of cycling for Europe — I think its something like 4% of journeys whereas in places like Berlin, Paris its closer to 20% of journeys and in Copenhagen and Amsterdam its 30%+ of jounreys — none of these places is radically different to London, its just that 30–40 years ago the city authorities realised that making the cities cycle friendly would bring benefits whereas in London the policy was to favour the car. london had lately woken up to this and so efforts are now being made to promote cycling.

  19. I jump red lights all the time on a bike, subject to safety, old people, kids, sensitive souls, etc

    It’s a self-preservation thing… the traffic system is not designed for bike riders, or pedestrians. It doesn’t even seem to work that well for cars.

    Riding on the pavement should be banned… apart from little kids obviously.

  20. Cycling helps with our guilt too. Most of us make a lot of cash from the big bad businesses that we like to criticise at our dinner parties. Most of us fly off to the far corners of the globe on holiday several times a year. Most of us like to be critical of the standard of foi gras at the latest gastropub (and scream if its a chain). Most of us hail a taxi a few times a month just cause we can’t be arsed. My favourite is the green warrior in Southwark who cries about globalisation via her blog — a free online tool courtesy of Microsoft.

    So we cycle and recycle. It sooths the guilt. And we can point at people (almost) just like us and claim we’re better for being responsible citizens.

  21. On a similar note I would encourage everyone to have cycle training — whether you are a novice or an experienced cyclist you can benefit from the training which helps to ensure that you ride assertively and so feel less threatened and more able to comply with road laws etc — in Lambeth 2 hours individual training is available for the cost of one days congestion charge — see and I think Southwark offers a similar deal (or maybe even free)

  22. @20 JohnnyM
    Your caricatures are boring me. Your “most of us” does not include me, thanks very much. Why do you feel the need to answer every thread, but with the same side-swiping, rather jaundiced set of world views? If I ever do hold a “dinner party” and the subject comes round to big businesses and foie gras, I’ll think of you for the next one!

  23. If getting around was all that it was about then we’d all be on motorbikes.

    I don’t cycle but I think cyclists are entitled to the moral high ground for there virtuous transport choice. Except perhaps when compared to pedestrians.

  24. I think Johnny is doing a grand job of stoking up the debate. His opinions are by no means unique and should be addressed or ignored but certainly not stifled…

  25. I’ll have to differ with you on that one, Alan. The opinions JohnnyM expresses bore me exactly because they’re not unique or new. Same old tired provocative carictures of people I’m presuming he’s never met.

  26. Johnny’s French is, er, ha, ha…

    “Foi gras” means “big faith” not “big liver”, blah blah blah.

    With regard to over-insistent, pain-in-the-saddle cyclists, I have a certain picture of a running-rat-featured enthusiast hurtling down the Grove with a megaphone into which he bellows shrilly, “The traffic is back on the Grove at last — hurray, this is a triumph over elitism!”

    When someone posts here that what you say is “rot”, the rot sets in and the vibe begins to degenerate. I fear I have contributed to this, er, blah.

  27. I am a cyclist and love it. I love the fact that I can get from A to B quicker than public transport or a private motor vehicle. I love the fact that it keeps me fit. I love the fact that it reduces my carbon footprint.

    I don’t love the fact that most road users (cyclists and motorists and bus drivers alike) don’t seem to have read the highway code at any point. London is the worst place in the country for agressive, unskilled driving, and wobbly, law-breaking cycling.

    I also don’t love the fact that as Peter W said, a big lump of two-tonne metal could easily kill you.

    So — let’s simply separate the two. kerbs between cycle lanes and car lanes are the answer. We obviously can’t pay together properly so we should be separated.

    The holier than thou comment is ridiculous. Try not being angry when you’ve just come very close to death.

  28. I agree with Dagmar. I think (her/his?) ad hominem argument wasn’t meant to be taken as a general comment on cyclists. I am happy to take her presumably drink inspired comments in good spirits; and so should you. Now move along.

  29. Translation:

    ‘We’re not elitists — no no no we’re not!’

    ‘Oh and we’re discounting you because your French is poor’.

    Ha! Love it.

  30. Who’s an elitist and why JohnnyM?

    I do agree that correcting your French is a poor counter argument but I am finding it difficult to work out what the argument is.

    Please could you summarize the two contradictory points of view?

  31. Who is not ’round here? Or at least a lot of elitist wanna be’s.

    No one dares take on Dagwood. Most don’t understand a word s/he says but they think they should or else they risk the wrath of the intelligentsia. So they just remain silent, pretend it’s brilliance and hope no one asks them for an opinion.

  32. JohnnyM you have put your finger on one thing, which is that the challenge of climate change is in managing people, and analysing their behaviourial motives, as much as managing our resources.

    Those unable to adapt their voracious car usage and consumption habits display similar symptoms to 100-a-day-ers, clinically obese professional eaters who must be winched to medical assistance, and suicides by cirrhosis. It demands a psychological approach.

    You can always spot one such if it is possible to paraphrase his or her approach to environmental matters with “There’s nothing you can do. Don’t bother”.

    There is a harmful circle of environmental guilt and reward identified by George Monbiot, the Grauniad’s Environment correspondent. It takes the shape of green consumerism, fine in itself except when used to justify more profligate behaviour in others ways more harmful to the environment.

    However, it’s worth mentioning that commuting accounts for more carbon emission tonnage per capita than does aviation, so you miss your mark on this occasion.

    The good news is, the shame culture is already here. People already can’t bear the idea that a class of people already exists who organise their lives based not on convenience, but on need, and do this conscientiously. Hence the frequently suggested imagery of champagne socialists by way of accusation.

    It does my heart good.

  33. On a slight change of tack — Amanda the one good thing about not liking the art in the Sun and Doves [and I do like it currently] on any given day is that if you give it a month or so it’ll all be a different scary/contemporary collection!

    Maybe we should lobby Mark D to get a load of Gainsboro and Constable copies in!


  34. Drew @ 43

    Forget about Gainborough and Constable, what the Sun and Doves need are some pictures of Dogs having a smoke whilst playing billiards or having a game of poker…

    That’s where the real art is at!

  35. I did post-grad at middlesex polytechnic, and count myself part of the local intelligentsia. even so, I certainly avoid unnecessary conflict with the polymathic dagmar. I too love the art in the sun and doves, including the manga in the bogs. A truly great pub Mark, which would be perfect if your pubco let you run guest beers.

  36. Ooh yes proper art!

    The ‘I dont know much about art but I know what I like’ school of art appreciation.

    I’m sure if you contacted Tate Britain they’d let you have a few pictures that they werent using at the time.

    Or they are perhaps better placed in the Dulwich Picture Gallery ‑

    Maybe art is the right analogy for this area of South London: contrasting established, genteel old master Dulwich with cutting edge, contemporary slightly scruffy Camberwell Or maybe not — stop me before I end up in pseuds’ corner.

  37. I had an interesting conversation with Guy Cowling — he of Cowling & Wilcox — about Camberwell.

    His business’s presence here is out of balancing the need for organic expansion and for greater storage space while mitigating the considerable risks and costs of such growth.

    Camberwell became the natural choice; They were looking for an existing large artistic community; convenient geographical location for transport logistics, good value, good retail space.

    Camberwell fit all the criteria; coming up area, steeped in artistic heritage, Camberwell College; south London Gallery; edgy arty; relatively good value, central, and the rest. New to the area, he felt he’d assessed the potential well. Then he got to see the area at close quarters through getting the business ready for trade. Already he’s finding Camberwell difficult to get his head around. It doesn’t work.

    It went something along these lines, and I paraphrase:

    ‘The state of the high street’s awful. (Denmark Hill). Why would anyone want to shop there? It’s not just the quality of shops — there’s some really good ones — GX Gallery and Pesh the flower shop — but the kind of people the area attracts puts normal people off. I went to Gregg’s three times last week and three times, literally, someone grabbed a sandwich and ran. The streets are disgusting, there’s drinkers everywhere. All the customers who come in to the shop say the same; “It’s so good to see you setting up here, Camberwell’s a mess, we need more shops like yours; We don’t understand why it’s sop crap”, blah blah blah. ‘Why can’t someone just get together with the local authority and the police and get this sorted out? It’s not in their interests to let this kind of thing happen in an area is it? Surely they’d want to get the area going. It can’t be that difficult. Can it?’

    Something like that.

    And as for what the owners of Butterfly Walk think about Camberwell now they’ve been around for a while (Not as intensively as Guy, they only do ambassador style walkabouts), is another story; as enlightening yet far more depressing, concerning Camberwell’s long term prospects, than the Cowling experience so far.

  38. On proper art the stuff on the walls at the Sun and Doves right now is TRIBE screen prints by Tony Lee. It is truly good stuff. Try to see it. You won’t be disappointed. If this work were in a top notch gallery in the west end you’d not blink. If you want to buy, they are a bit pricey as they stand but we’re prepared to talk about that. Make an offer. If you buy one you’ll never regret it.

    The show comes down in a week or so. The next show is MELTDOWN — dramatic photographic landscapes showing the effects of climate change in the Arctic. Private view Monday 26 November, 6.30 — 9.30 sponsored by Ketel one vodka. And Cowling & Wilcox!


  39. MELTDOWN: Photographs by Camberwell resident Louise Murray. She’s crazy. She thinks it’s normal to want visit geographical extremes to get amazing pics while guiding BBC and National Geographic crews through Inuit land and lore. Her work is just as amazing.

  40. I live on A CYLCISTS RAT RUN Benhill Rd
    I tell you some of these cyclists are an f***ing menace — you can’t hear them coming — I have been nearly knocked down
    on a few occasions when attempting to cross the road & have been subsequently treated aggresively by the cyclist( at fault) in question.
    Why don’t you get a bell — like in Holland or elsewhere to warn about your presence? Perhaps it aint cool on your custom made fixed gear bike?
    the worst of these cyclists have an appalling self rightousness & arrogance towards pedestrians & desrve a good kicking if i get a chance!

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