Coming like a ghost town?

Is Sunday in Camberwell always so quiet? Having shaken off the last vestiges of my cold, the wife and I received more visitors (I make it 10 in the six weeks that we’ve been moved in) — two on Saturday night, two on Sunday. As Sunday was sunny, we went out for pints.

First of all, to the Grove/BRB — almost empty. Even the tables outside in the sun were deserted. When me, the wife and Tom walked in, we doubled the clientele. We were outnumbered by the staff. I think you get the point.

One pint later, off we went to Blake House. Again, empty. Maybe three other people in there when we arrived, and soon they left us to it. Mind you, that could have been because of the lack of beer; only one lager on tap, only two brands in the fridge. Sold out of Stella — not bothered, because I don’t drink it, but having the top-selling lager off is a bit of a slip-up.

I have a feeling that Blake House is going through lean times; first there’s the lack of beer, second the lack of customers. I think it’s really nice, but opinions vary. It would be a shame if it were to go under.

But back to my point; two pubs, one sunny afternoon, no customers. Did everyone go to the park for the day? Was there a big party that no-one invited me to? Does no-one drink on Sundays? Did I just choose the wrong places?

Back in Queen’s Park the local pub, The Salusbusy, was constantly busy. Was this Sunday just a one-off, or is Camberwell teetotal?

All quiet in my part of SE5

I would have more to report about Camberwell were it not for the fact that I’ve been ill for a couple of days and have barely left the house. Still, at least it seems that nobody’s been murdered.

Update: I’ve skinned the blog with a design from AlexKing.org. Looks much better now. More changes coming.

Caught in the crossfire

I hope that bad news really does come in threes, and that I haven’t chosen to move back to South London in the middle of a gang feud.

Following on from the stabbing and execution I reported before, comes the news that the fire at Pharoahs pub is believed to be deliberately started, and could have something to do with firearms.

The fire happened last Friday night between 12.30am and 5.00am; it’s pretty remarkable that I didn’t hear anything, because it’s near my flat (conveniently, it’s also practically next door to the fire station). When the wife and I took a walk to Peckham on Saturday we saw the police cars and tape sealing off the road, and both thought ‘Who’s been killed now?’. We were relieved to find out it was just a fire — but now the story about it being linked to gun crime has been reported in the newspapers.

Fingers crossed this is just an isolated incident.

BRB (Grove House Tavern)

BRB The Grove

BRB The Grove

I’m a little confused about this pub; it used to be called the Grove House Tavern, but now seems to be called BRB — yet the sign outside still says The Grove. I don’t know; I’m going to call it BRB because it’s quicker. Anyway, it’s at 26 Camberwell Grove, SE5 8RE — just around the corner from Blake House.

When it was the Grove House Tavern it was an OK boozer — a bit sticky-carpet, but forgivable. Now it’s been opened out and has more light and space, as well as a big wood-fired oven where the grotty little kitchen used to be. And Tuesday night is 2-for-1 on all pizzas, so it would have been foolish not to take them up on that.

I had the Chilli Chicken, the wife an Alpina. Both were very tasty; nice thin base, a good balance of tomato and chicken with neither overpowering. Mine was just spicy enough. Not perfect, nor the best I’ve eaten in London, but very impressive. And £6.95 for two pizzas is absurdly good value.

It did get pretty busy in there; as we left at about 8.15pm there were no tables left. The last time we were there, a few weeks back, a DJ set up in the main room and was playing student classics at a decent volume. I’m sure it gets louder later, but at least conversation was possible.

There is a tiny courtyard out back with space for about four tables. Because of the high walls it doesn’t get loads of sun, but on a hot day I imagine it gets pretty heaving anyway.

A decent medium venue; not grotty but not up it’s arse, not dead but not rammed either. In fact, just the type of place to go out and have a pint and a pizza with mates.

Blake House, Grove Lane

Blake HouseBlake House

Last Wednesday the wife and I went for our customary monthly celebration of our marriage (an excuse to eat out, as if one were needed). We like to try a different place whenever possible, and the move to Camberwell has obviously opened up many new doors.

We decided to go for Blake House (16 Grove Lane), which wasn’t in Camberwell when I was last here. It used to be The Kerfield Arms, a typically sticky-carpeted dark pub, so it’s redevelopment is really welcome.

Upstairs, the restaurant is very spacious and the big windows were open as we had a rare warm evening. The waitress was very friendly (and stunning to look at, although as I was with my wife I obviously didn’t pay much attention). It was pretty empty, only ourselves and two more tables, even considering it was a Wednesday night.

My wife ordered Seared Cod and Deep-Fried Fennel, while I went for Duck Breast with Potatoes (I forget which type, but it wasn’t mashed). The food arrived in pretty good time and was tasty, although not amazing. The portions were fairly small and my Duck was slightly overcooked.

For dessert I had Creme Brulee (tiny) and my wife had a Chocolate Fudge Cake (I think; we also had a bottle of wine and that detail is hazy). Each main course was about £12, desserts were about £4 and the wine was about £15; a total haul of roughly £50.

We came away happy with our night; it’s really comfortable and intimate inside, the food was good and, although leaning towards expensive considering the size of the portion, not extortionate.

For now, the best restaurant I’ve been to in Camberwell. Heh.