Sunday, as you're probably sick of reading by now, saw the opening of the new Overground link through south-east London. We decided to celebrate in the way we know best: with a pub crawl. Not along the WHOLE line, of course. We're not superhuman. Instead, we asked local residents to nominate their favourite bars along the stretch from Sydenham up to New Cross. Click through the gallery for more details.
Sydenham: The Dolphin
Beer gardens. One of the joys of drinking beyond Zone 1. The Dolphin, a five minute walk along Sydenham Road, has a charming example with comfortable chairs dotted around a medium-sized garden and a cordon of patio-seating at the edges. The inside ain't bad either, with dark oak panels reminiscent of a Regency drawing room (the pub is actually Edwardian, built in mock Tudor, on the site of an earlier Dolphin of Georgian times - bit of an architectural identity crisis). By local accounts, the Dolphin was once a spit-and-sawdust kind of place, and not in a knowing Shoreditch way. A complete revamp in 2006 has furnished the good people of Sydenham with a reasonable gastropub raised to 'gem' status on account of its beer garden. Watch your wallet, though. £3.80 for a bottle of Peroni.
Forest Hill: All Inn One
The All Inn One is a little outside of our wordplay comfort zone, as though someone intended to set up a good pub and ended with a bad pun. Fortunately, the painful name belies a very impressive local boozer, recently converted from a quiet drinking den into a multi-talented gastrobar. Again, we have a beer garden out back with small patio areas spaced around the front of the building. Inside, the All Inn One is bedecked with luxuriant leather sofas and dark wooden panelling. A small dining room leads off to the back, and the pub maintains one of the most extensive and least expensive bar menus in town. Quiz nights, poker nights, music nights. OK, we'll grudgingly back down. This place really does have it 'all inn one'.
Honor Oak Park: Try Tapas
Local informants warned us of a lack of pubs close to the station. Instead, they suggested this exceptionally purple tapas place the distance of an expectorated olive stone from the Overground. Settling into a comfortable window seat, we could have happily used the place purely as a bar. However, Try Tapas is the name, and who are we to argue? Meatballs and fancy spuds were eminently munchable, washed down with an incongruous but welcome pint of Meantime Ale. Now is a good time to visit and register your contact details. In a potentially bankrupting promotion, the restaurant will pay back the price of your meal should England win the World Cup. Follow them on Twitter.
Brockley: Jam Circus
'Brockley is cooler than Shoreditch,' opines the sign beside the bar. Jam Circus is certainly doing its bit to live that assertion. The name itself could find a home on Hoxton Square, and the brothel-chic decor certainly could. Like so many places on this pub crawl, the Circus is recently gentrified. In their own, punctuationally relaxed, words: "Jam Circus was reborn from an old school gangsters hangout from where the local police could reliably find 99% of their outstanding warrants." Different interior spaces mean you'll get a different experience each time you visit. We chose the pavement tables, supping a winning pint of Hobgoblin and facting each other over a game of 1983 Trivial Pursuit. It's a place you'd be proud to call your local, especially with late opening times every night of the week.
Brockley 2: The Orchard
Developing, now, a warm feeling for Brockley, we decided to stick around for one more pint. The Orchard, close to the station, is a handsome, airy place with some smashing decor (you can't miss the central, enormous fish tank surrounded by book cases). We were joined by blogger Brockley Kate, whose site had plenty of goods to say about the place when it opened a few months ago. The cosy, relaxed bar, so perfect on a sunny summer evening, was created by Brockley residents frustrated at the lack of options in the area. With its proximity to the Overground, there's a real possibility that the Orchard could attract regulars from beyond its local core.
New Cross: The Amersham Arms
To be perfectly honest, we were completely bladdered by this point, so have no clear memory of the Amersham's delights. We vaguely recall a sense of rock and roll swagger about the place, with a thrashy live band playing away in the back room. It was seemingly a refuge for people who like to rebel. So we did...by playing Scrabble. As you can see from the image above, however, our grasp of the rules was somewhat befuddled. No doubt, this pub is normally riddled with art students from nearby Goldsmiths College. But, hey, it was a school night, and the main bar was surprisingly quiet.
Got any recommendations for further bars along this stretch that we missed? Or perhaps ideas for drinking dens at other stations on the line? Comments welcome below.