Insider tips on the hidden gems of Lewisham - food and drink

News Shopper: Meze Mangal Meze Mangal

Where are the best places to eat, drink and galavant in Lewisham? Reporter HELOISE WOOD talks to people who know the secrets of where to go.

A PUB in a 1960s post office, a cafe frequented by Nigella Lawson and a kebab place rivalling the Ritz are just some of the delights to be had in Lewisham.

First up is Turkish resturant Meze Mangal which appeared in the News Shopper last year after it gained a 95 per cent approval rating on the Trip Advisor website making it the seventh best restaurant in the whole of London.

It beat The Ritz and Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley.

Fans of Meze Mangal include playwright Janice Okoh from Lewisham whose play Three Birds is showing at The Bush Theatre in West London this week.

She told News Shopper last week: “There’s a great Turkish place Meze Mangal in Lewisham Way - I love it. New Cross is seen as scary but it’s really cosmopolitan.”

Nearby Indian restaurant Babur in Brockley Rise recently gained two rosettes in this year’s AA Restaurant Guide while website Zagat said it was “worth the journey from anywhere”. It has been around for more than 25 years and also has a take away.

Meanwhile the Big Red Pizza Bus in Deptford Church Street is perhaps too bright to be a hidden gem but is worthy of a mention.

It has been attracting crowds since June 2011 with legendary pizzas and is a favourite with News Shopper reporter Robert Fisk who said: “It’s the best pizza I’ve had in London.”

There are also some great places in Lewisham to grab a coffee and enjoy a croissant (or three).

Cafe Rhubarb and Custard in Manor Lane, Lewisham, is a favourite with parents for its cakes, children’s parties and food clubs as well as bread and pastries from artisan baker Paul Rhodes of Greenwich.

The company opened a branch in January this year at the Wavelengths Leisure Centre in Giffin Street, Deptford.

Forest Hill’s restaurant and gallery Canvas and Creme in London Road, has been praised by Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi as well as blogger Melissa Bakth who appears in News Shopper this week.

News Shopper: Melissa Bakth

Ms Bakth, 28, who is also the founder of design company Squash Bannana said: “Canvas and Cream in London Road, Forest Hill, is where I have many meetings and I love the atmosphere - and triple fried fries.”

"The Teapot, a few doors down, is also great and I love gallery cafe Brockley Mess and Arlo and Moe both in Brockley Road."

Fellow Lewisham resident Stephe Meloy tweeted News Shopper praise from his @Staircase2 account for the imaginatively titled You Don’t Bring Me Flowers in Staplehurst Road.

The cafe also sells flowers and has a weekly knit club every Tuesday between 4pm and 6pm.

Stephe added: “Pistachios in the Park in Manor House Gardens and Cafe of Good Hope in Hither Green Lane also deserve a mention.

"They both do sterling work and deserve special mention because of their commitment to positivity as well as coffee.

“Cafe of Good Hope is the best cafe in Lewisham.

"It’s friendly and does great work for local young people and provides activism on youth violence while Pistachios in the Park has completely recreated the whole energy in Manor House Gardens turning it into a safe inspiring family space.”

One half of Lewisham DJ duo The Old Kent Roadies, Jo Hogan, said: “I like Little Nan’s Bar– it’s done out like a granny’s living room.”

The vintage-themed establishment, in Deptford Broadway, recently released a set of balloons with free cocktail vouchers attached and one turned up in Clapham Common.

Signature cocktails include The Duke of Deptford  which is made out of two types of rum, cider served with (or without) cinnamon and crushed ice.

Meanwhile Pub Spy's recent adventures have shed light on the burgeoning number of bars in the borough.

This week’s jaunt at the Fox and Firkin left him uncharacteristically enlightened: “I realised why the Fox and Firkin doesn’t scare me in the same way as indie bars of my teenage years – it’s much nicer – in just about every way.”

Converted post office the Sylvan Post in Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill, went down well with the normally hard-to-please reviewer spending a “perfect afternoon” there earlier this month.

In February, Pub Spy declared The Hob in Devonshire Road “a friendly, quirky, lively pub which deserves better representation than an evil-looking white rat”.

News Shopper: Review: The Hob, Forest Hill

And although they aren’t exactly hidden gems, Lewisham hosts a number of well-loved markets which many people travel across the capital for.

Susan Hewitt, 60, of Lordship Lane, Forest Hill, said of Lewisham High Street Market: “It’s really good value and everyone is friendly – not only the stall holders but also the shoppers.

“The fruit and veg is excellent value and you’re encouraged to eat more seasonally which is good.”

Part Two on things to see and do will follow and a feature on Markets will follow.

Do you have tips of where to go? Comment in the section below or email hwood@london.newsquest.co.uk

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