Food and Drink News: Openings and Closings

Featured illustration by Sam Peet, used with permission. Thanks, Sam!

Some enticing news, some good news, some bad news.

Openings

There’s a licensing application in for Ambigu, a new restaurant over two floors at 58a Church Street, the site of the recently closed Kalabash African restaurant and Club Couture in the basement. The food would be small plate / tapas, largely Latin American, with a small bar and a late license. The team behind the application are involved with the Bermondsey Social Club, and Blues Kitchen in Brixton and Shoreditch. You can see more details on the published appeal to local residents [PDF].

It’s an interesting proposition; the request is to have a license until 2am, and Camberwell doesn’t offer much in the way of late-night dining. My guess is that there will be some objections about noise from the residents of Camberwell Grove. I can’t find a formal decision made on the application as yet.

Peckham’s famous Frank’s will be moving into a winter residency in the room above The Camberwell Arms, which they bought outright back in May (I missed that news at the time). Seems Camberwell’s Frank’s will be a cocktail bar.

Major refurbishment work seems almost complete at The Grove, on Camberwell Grove, which will reopen this month as Grove House (update: it reopened on 11th November). After the last tenants, the Grand Union chain, sold most of their properties to the Draft House chain, The Grove returned to ownership by Young’s, but they’ve said they’ll only be acting as landlords and the new tenants are private; I don’t have any details yet on who they are.

Closings

The Bear, on Camberwell New Road, will be closing down for six-eight months from this Friday, 10th November as the landlord of the building renovates the upper floors of the building. The team at the Bear say they will definitely be re-opening again next year, and there’ll be a big party there on Friday.

Nape, the wine and charcuterie deli on Church Street, has permanently closed. They’ve said they’ll soon publish news about why they had to do it; I don’t know whether it was trouble with the premises (I know it wasn’t as complete as they wanted it to be), a simple lack of business, or just the difficulty of doing business in Camberwell.

Camberwell Church Street is becoming pretty bare after the closure of Angels & Gypsies, Queen’s, and now Nape. Does the area’s heavy concentration of students make it hard for slightly more expensive dining and drinking spots to keep going? Or is it perhaps with seasonality (it’s quiet in Summer and at Christmas, again because of students)? Is it more to do with the transport links? The A202 running through the middle of it?  Business rates?

Whatever the reason, seems that it’s often a struggle for small businesses to establish themselves here.

Possible Closing and Opening

I can’t comment on this publicly yet, but have been told that it’s likely that another small, popular, recently established business in the area may be closing soon. However, there’s a chance it could appear again in a different venue a little later. Sorry for being so maddeningly vague, I’ll update in future.

News round-up: Camberwell box park, Camberwell Fair and more

Lots of things to talk about, not least the news that Camberwell could be set to turn into hipster central! Let’s start with that.

Camberwell Yards

There’s a chance that Camberwell will get its own temporary retail / entertainment space made of converted shipping containers, similar to Pop Brixton, The Artworks Elephant, or the Boxpark that’s so beloved of the hipsters in Shoreditch and, er, Croydon. Camberwell Yards, as it’s called, is mooted to be on the smaller area of the car park behind Morrisons in Butterfly Walk.

Map showing Camberwell Yards, just off Daneville Road
The proposed location of ‘Camberwell Yards’

There are a planned 14 shipping containers around a central communal area. The intended uses are:

  • Four containers for food and beverages
  • One container for local community use
  • Eight containers for local businesses
  • One container for WC
  • A central communal area for flexible use, e.g. a pop-up cinema
Indicative layout of Camberwell Yards
14 Container units surround a communal area
Sketch of the Camberwell Yards development
An artist’s sketch of how the area could look.

It’s fair to say that reaction on Twitter to this news has not been entirely positive, with much muttering of gentrification and hipsters. I’m not entirely against the idea myself, although I think the key word used in the description above is local. How will businesses be judged to be local? Who will decide? How will that be enforced?

If this brings new people to the area and gives support to truly local businesses, then yes it’s a positive move. If all it does is bring people in who stay only in the box park, don’t get out and see more, and in fact attracts custom away from existing local businesses, then no, it’s not a good thing.

Notices up on the former HSBC building state that there will be a public consultation about this on Thursday, 20th July, from 3–7pm, in the old bank itself. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make this. If anyone is planning to attend, do please get in touch and send me a report.

Update, 28/09/17: the plans have been scrapped.

Camberwell Fair

A reminder that this Saturday, 22nd July, Camberwell Fair returns to the Green. The fair is

a celebration of the diverse people, culture and community of the local area, and will feature 2 top quality music stages, 40 market stalls, food, bars and games.

Entry is once again free, although may not always be; the organisers are crowdfunding to raise £3,000 to cover their costs and keep it free in future. If you’ve enjoyed the fair in the past, or plan to this year, consider chipping in a few quid to support; it’s not entirely selfless, you can get some goodies in return for your donation.

Camberwell Grove Railway Bridge

If you live in East/South Camberwell, you may be affected by the ongoing closure of this bridge. The latest news is that it will cost at least £17,000 to strengthen the bridge to support vehicles up to 3 tonnes, plus the cost of works to ensure that heavier vehicles can’t cross it; or at least £1,000,000 to strengthen it for vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes. Some people want the bridge reopened, others want the closure made permanent. If you have an opinion, Southwark Council want to hear it.

The Bower

More crowdfunding news, this time for a new gallery, bookshop, publishing studio, and cafe—in a converted toilet block in Brunswick Park. The Bower will

host a series of exhibitions and events and produce books with artists and writers by Publication Studio London on site. In addition to this, The Bower will provide a much needed cafe service to the park, serving freshly made coffee, tea and refreshments, all from local suppliers.

If you’d like to see a better use for the old WCs, you might consider sending them a few quid towards their £10,027 (very specific) target.

Nape & Rock Oysters

A quick thanks to Cannon & Cannon for inviting me along to their Oyster Summer Session at Nape on Sunday. Fantastic Jersey oysters from &Rocks, and great wine from Nape themselves. Good to see the place nice and busy, it’s a very welcome addition to Camberwell and a local business that deserves support. And I’m not just saying that because I was given some free oysters.

Two plates of oysters, one raw, one cooked
Raw oysters with lemon, and grilled oysters with chipotle

Camberwell Green

And finally, the revamped and refreshed Camberwell Green has been awarded a Green Flag, “the benchmark national standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom”. It’s a pleasure to walk through there now, and great to see it so well-used in the nice Summer weather we’re having. Wish more people would pick their litter up after them, though.

June and July: Arts Festival, Open House, Fair and more

Lots happening in the next few months in Camberwell and around…

Camberwell Arts Festival is back for 2017, starting with a party on the Green on 10th June, “where you can expect feasting, free fun workshops, a cake competition and a market showcasing the talent of Camberwell’s creative community”. There’ll be an Arts and Crafts Market on the same day, with a “wonderful range of goodies made in and around Camberwell’s dynamic creative community.” (Pardon the quotes, I’m using their press release to avoid rewriting it all.)

There’s a full programme of events at venues all around the area until 18th June. Some events will require tickets, so make sure you check in advance. You can view the brochure onlinedownload it as a PDF, or find a printed copy at “several shops, cafes, restaurants around SE5 including The Leisure centre, Hill Bakery, The Camberwell Arms, Joiners Arms, Art Deli and Maloko”.

On Saturday, 17th June, there’s the Myatt’s Fields Midsummer Fair. “a celebration of food, nature, arts and community, with live music, dance displays, stalls selling food, craft and bric a brac, greenhouse tours, fairground rides, a football tournament, peepshow exhibition, a parade for peace, Big Lunch and more”.

And also on 17th June, just slightly over the border, the Warwick Gardens Great Get Together [Facebook link] is “a community BYO picnic to get people together to meet their neighbours, share food and have fun”. Activities include “hand massages, glitter face-painting, table tennis tournament, yoga demo, kids ballet, swing dancing, and live music throughout the afternoon with local reggae artist Ras Keith”.

On the following weekend, 24th June, there’s the Ruskin Park Summer Fete, with “stalls, activities, pop up bar, food and music. This year you can try your hand at Willow Craft Sculpture, have a beautiful Henna Design, listen to wonderful Caribbean folktales. And back again by popular demand will be Kids’ Whirled Cinema in the Tipii  and those gorgeous and much loved Donkeys.”

The same day, 24th June, Camberwell College of Arts are holding an Open House, “a family-orientated event, offering free creative workshops, especially designed for children and young people. [it] takes place across two sites, Wilson Road, SE5 8LU and Peckham Road, SE5 8UF. The workshops at the event will include letterpress, screenprinting, The Darkroom Experience, stop motion animation, and much more”. Full details on their website.

And the evening of the 24th sees the return of Organoke—karaoke sung along with the mighty organ of St. Giles’ Church. Buy tickets online, or from The Pigeon Hole cafe (Datchelor Place), or on the door if any are left (there might not be).

On the 1st of July there’s the Just So pop-up Summer Fair at Ark All Saints Academy, Wyndham Road. Arts, crafts, local businesses and more. Details on the flyer.

Later the same month, 22nd July, Camberwell Fair returns to the Green. Full details should be released in a few weeks time, and I’ll add them here when I get them; or, keep an eye on their website.

Not forgetting the regular Saturday Farmers Market and Sunday Market; all told, should be plenty to see and do in the next months.

Over in Dulwich, the Picture Gallery have opened a Summer Pavilion until 8th October. There’ll be plenty of events happening there, with local interest provided by a bar and menu from our own Camberwell Arms. More information on the Gallery’s website.

Camberwell Market is back for the Summer

After a successful launch last year, Camberwell Market (not to be confused with Camberwell Farmers’ Market) is back on the Green this Sunday, 23rd April, from 11am to 5pm. There’s a mostly new line-up of stalls, including (descriptions provided by the market management):

  • Serious Hashbrowns—a brand-new venture from Daniel Mntungwana of Love Walk Cafe, serving up Gourmet Hashbrowns (from a converted horse box!)
  • Daddy’s Japan Soul Food—scrumptious, authentic Japanese street-food.
  • Meltsmiths—mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Books-Peckham—beloved and hugely popular book stall returns!
  • Fashion Clicks—playful, fun, quirky, inspired vintage/retro fashion.
  • And many more.

It’s great to have the market back for the summer. I still think, however, it would be good if the Saturday and Sunday markets could merge—it would make for a much better destination. I’ve heard there are regulatory reasons why they’re separate, but I’d still like to see it.

News Roundup: Things to See and Do

Time slipped away from me before I could promote this year’s Camberwell Free Film Festival. It’s halfway through already, but you can still see some great films between now and Monday.

The Southwark Community Action Network are organising a petition in support of reopening Camberwell station. If you want to help, you can print a copy and pass it round your local networks for signing.

Camberwell Arts are running another Open Studios event, on the weekend of 16th-18th June. If you’re an artist, maker or creative with a studio in the area, and want to take part, the deadline for applications has been extended to 10th April.

Camberwell Fair is back this year, and back on the Green after taking place in Burgess Park in 2016. It’s going to be a two-day event, on 22nd and 23rd of July. If you want to be involved in the organisation you can get in touch with them now; official applications for stallholders and performers will follow soon.

Finally, local coffee roasters and social enterprise, Old Spike, opened their new café, bar, and roastery, Spike+Earl, last weekend. It’s in the old Town Hall on Peckham Road and was such a success on the first day that they ran out of food for the weekend. A great spot to get some afternoon sun.