The South London Gallery is a serious journey for Central Londoners who expect everything to be accessible in a maximum of 20 minutes, but well worth the trip, even just to go for lunch. As an institution firmly rooted in the community, it’s been supported since the late 19th century by artists such as Frederick Leighton and Burne-Jones, and then in the 1990s by the YBAs, including Tracey Emin whose “tent” was first exhibited there. The recently refurbished Gallery by 6a Architects is a sympathetic blend of the existing Victorian terraced house and the new build construction to the side and behind.
The Cafe occupies what would have been the main front room of the terraced house, with the servery and kitchen housed in the back. The bar counter servery is just that, with a few cakes atop. The rest of the menu, written on a large blackboard behind the counter, is lovingly made to order from the kitchen, the best type of home cooking. On my visit, a deliciously garlicky Frittata with Red Pepper, Courgettes and Manchego Cheese was served with a properly dressed Green Salad and Chargrilled Sourdough Toast for a very reasonable £5.50. The Lemon and Porcini Risotto looked good too. Sandwich fillings were £4.50 for Serrano Ham, or Lincolnshire Poacher with Red Onion Marmalade, and small plates offered Pork Rillettes and Caperberries.
Thoughtful touches like sprigs of fresh mint in the jug of iced water on the counter, show the owners are on the premises. This is a first venture for Hamish Pritchard and Nick Herdman. They are both from the music business, but have always hovered around the restaurant scene in Clerkenwell, gaining knowledge and experience. Hamish is the front man, while Nick tries to keep up with the deluge of orders in the small back kitchen. There have been teething problems with waiting times, especially in fine weather when extra tables spill out into the sunny Fox garden behind. But, relax man, you’re in South London, what’s the hurry?
Hamish and Nick are hoping this may be the start of something bigger, eventually: branches in other galleries perhaps. Why not? Benugo and Oliver Peyton will need successors. In the meantime, visitors can enjoy their undivided attention.
No 67 Cafe at the South London Gallery
Opening Hours: Tuesday, Thursday – Sunday: 10 – 6.30
Wednesday 10 – 9
Trains go from Peckham Rye to Central London
Nearest underground: Elephant & Castle, Oval or Vauxhall, then buses stop outside