Still in the early stages of gentrification, the proximity to Crystal Palace and West Dulwich makes West Norwood very appealing to young professionals seeking well priced property. We had passed through on many occasions to shop at B&Q and with each trip we had noticed that change was definitely afoot so it was time to check it out in further detail.
The first visit was on a Sunday afternoon with Flo, we drove through a few residential streets to suss out the housing stock before stopping to walk around Norwood Park. The park is hilly so a great place to get a workout whilst exercising Flo and you get a lovely vantage point across the city from the top. The fitness classes haven’t yet moved in so the park itself was very quiet, although there were a few families using the large playpark. My top tip would be to avoid the café at all costs, I was in need of caffeine and I was appalled when I was served a powdered milk latte!
Driving back through the High Street we were encouraged to see that it has been given a little facelift and noticed that a few new cafes had opened. As Flo was a little muddy we decided not to stop in the Great Northwood instead opting for the beer garden at the Rosendale (http://www.therosendale.co.uk/). There is a large terrace area at the front of the pub and an enclosed garden at the back which, unusually for London, includes a play area for children. The beer was selection was good with a handful of real and craft ales on tap and inside was extremely busy with people feasting on very tempting Sunday Roast’s.
The second visit was on a sunny Saturday afternoon and started with a drink in The Garden Gastro (http://www.thegardengastrobar.com). We sat in the pretty garden out the back which is a little haven away from the traffic on the main road and enjoyed some lovely Italian wine. The waiter was very friendly and the menu looked good, it’s just shame that it was so quiet and therefore lacked atmosphere.
The next stop was the Great Northwood (http://www.thegreatnorthwood.co.uk/), which until very recently was the only pub worth visiting in West Norwood! Here there is a focus on organic wines and there are regularly changing ales. The weekends bring with them a brunch menu, but the whole menu sounded delicious making Mr B and I wish we hadn’t opted for such a big lunch at home before leaving. We struggled to find a table so took a seat by the bar and pursued the weekend papers. With friendly and welcoming staff and modern yet comfortable décor this, it’s easy to see why the Great Northwood is so popular.
After two years of wrangling with the council Antic London (http://anticlondon.com/) have finally opened Knowles of Norwood (http://knowlesofnorwood.com/) in an old DIY shop that once stood on the site. Once again here they have followed a tried and tested format and the result is a fantastic unique space, there are plenty of nods to the building’s past life with old-fashioned tools decorating the walls and tables made from old filing cabinets. The beer garden was still work in progress but with the bi-fold doors at the front fully open it was plenty airy enough inside. Mr B instantly declared it his favourite Antic so far… I think the fact they were serving his current favourite beer (Hepcat by Gipsy Hill) might have had some bearing on this, but I have to agree that this pub would be a great addition to any high street. The good people of Antic have done it again and they deserve a big pat on the back for a job well done.
It was very hard to leave Knowles of Norwood, but it seemed a shame to be sat inside on such a lovely afternoon so we walked the short distance to Tulse Hill where we stopped in the Railway Tavern. The beer garden was extremely busy creating a very lively atmosphere and it was nice to see a Welsh beer on tap.
Our end point was the Tulse Hill Hotel (https://www.tulsehillhotel.com/), where it was the launch party for their summer garden and they’d certainly pulled out all the stops. There was an Aperol bar out front and a DJ playing the main garden, our experience was totally different to the first time we visited few months earlier when had enjoyed a refined dinner in the dining room. When we visited on a cold January evening the open fires were lit and dogs were curled up in front of them warming up after the cold walk there. For a saturday evening the atmosphere was fairly relaxed and resembled a country inn. We enjoyed a very nice meal of confit duck and creamy chicken pie. This is somewhere I will definitely return, but maybe I’ll give the summer party a miss next year!
West Norwood certainly is changing, but I fear the change could be slow. We walked past two pubs not even daring to enter and upon entering the Horns Tavern we thought we had stepped back in time so left immediately. Yes coffee shops are opening and there two extremely good pubs, however it lacks restaurants with The Garden Gastro being the one on the high street.
Could I live here? I’m really not sure, yes property prices are favourable and change is under way but how quickly will that change occur? More research and return visits are certainly required.
Mrs B xx