Wandsworth is a quiet borough. It often requires no small amount of inside knowledge to uncover the gems. We all know the Power Station, Albert Bridge and Battersea Park, which stand like monuments along the river. What happens when you delve further in and explore? With an Arts Festival in May now is the perfect time to get to know the Borough of Wandsworth.
Housed in Battersea’s original town hall, a Grade II listed building, Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) is a place of exceptional artistic output. Punchdrunk’s unsettling interactive play The Masque of the Red Death opened here before the company moved onto international fame with Sleep No More tearing the New York theatre scene apart throughout 2011. Richard Thomas’ Jerry Springer- The Opera also premiered here before moving to the Royal National Theatre to rave reviews.
Wandsworth’s one and only Michelin stared restaurant, Chez Bruce, made this category fairly easy to decide. Placed overlooking Wandsworth Common Brian Poole’s stylish outpost is among the best restaurants in London.
Split almost exactly in half between Wandsworth and Lambeth, Clapham Common could be seen as a contentious winner. Cedars Road marks the dividing line and if we’re being honest Lambeth nabbed a lot of the spoils — the skatepark, the pond, the basketball courts and the plot for the phenomenal SW4 festival. With this in mind we’re going to ignore the borough line — it’s not like there’s a toll booth. In reality this is just a wide open expanse of green which is an example to the rest of London in the way it is utilised by the entire community.
Young’s brewery in Wandsworth Town is, as of 2006, no longer functional. That does not stop this being an incredible landmark. This is the oldest brewery site in Britain and has given birth to the largest and most successful pub franchise in the country. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a Young’s pub and this is where it all began.
As with most secrets in London this is no kind of secret at all. Getting a table at Meze in Tooting is a thing of great skill. From the outside it looks like any other small restaurant/take away shop of Mediterranean origin, and the inside is only notable for the lack of free tables. The food, however, is exceptional value for money and of the very highest order. Make sure you book and don’t tell anyone we sent you, it’s supposed to be a secret after all.
This is not the best borough for bars but Wandsworth has one or two saving graces. Lost Angel is the pick of the bunch with fantastic cocktails, a late night licence and a sizeable garden. Do remember, however, it is lost. Don’t be disheartened by the desolate road, you’ll find it eventually.
Sitting in Battersea Square is our pick of things to do in Wandsworth. It is a little slice of the continent. Tucked behind two domineering council estates this is a place for people in the know. Pick a sunny day and you may not want to leave.
The Bedford in Balham has, over the years, garnered a reputation as one London’s best music venues. Turn up any night and expect to see something special. Paolo Nutini, KT Tunstall and James Morrison are among a vast list of successful artists who cite the Bedford as a launching point for their careers.
Best food shop:
Bit of an odd one this. Snoggy’s is a South African food store on Upper Richmond Road in the far Western corner of the borough. Quite a pilgrimage for many but they boast the best biltong in London. Other South African treats adorn the shelves but the ceiling is filled with dried strips of the best meat you could ask for.
The Antelope on Mitcham Road is a fantastic pub. A mish-mash of furniture and a vast expanse of space greets you as you walk in. The food is the real selling point with a fantastic ever-changing menu.
Agree, disagree? Let us know your top recommendations for Wandsworth in the comments.
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