My personal guide: East Dulwich

South London lover Graeme Claridge is a newish arrival to SE22. He talks us through four recent discoveries

Peckham is now officially the second most fashionable place to live in the UK. Well, according to one newspaper anyway. Meanwhile, nearby Camberwell is hosting its own film festival across its hip young cafes and grand old buildings. With such noisy neighbours to contend with, East Dulwichites might be forgiven for finding home a little lacking of late.

Yet for those familiar with the area, SE22 has much to recommend it. So if you’ve never even ventured beyond Bellenden, here are four tips to get you going:

BREAKFAST: indulge in a full English

Johnnies: five items for a fiver. Photos: GC
As you’d no doubt expect, East Dulwich has a bounty of sweet little cafes selling flat whites and quaint pastries. Johnnies, however, is not one of those places.

Johnnies doesn’t serve artisan bread, or ornately decorated cakes with French-sounding names. But what it does offer is the best fry-up in all of East Dulwich – and, most likely, in Dulwiches North, West and Village too.

The ‘five items for a fiver’ menu allows diners to ruminate, Alan Partridge-style, on just what it is that constitutes the perfect cooked breakfast. Chips or hash browns? Mushrooms or tomatoes? All meat? The choice is made that much easier, however, by the fact that a) toast and tea or coffee are included gratis, and b) it all tastes great.

Whilst evidently not the healthiest way to start the day, Johnnies provides a great avenue for those wanting to see in the weekend in gluttonous pleasure. So if you’re looking for a reward for all that good behaviour through the working week – or just want to continue the excess that began the night before – then you need look no further than Johnnies cafe. 137 Lordship Lane, London SE22

SHOPPING: stroll through North Cross Road market

North Cross Road Market, in East Dulwich. Photo: Anna Dent
North Cross Road Market, in East Dulwich. Photo: Anna Dent
Vintage book enthusiast? Coffee lover in need of that caffeine hit? Punctured bicycle, Denmark Hill-side (desolate)? Then next stop is North Cross Road market.

Situated just off Lordship Lane, its vintage feel reflects the many lovingly crafted goods on offer. And although not as large as some of south London’s more renowned markets – Brixton, Greenwich, Vauxhall – it’s a quality-not-quantity sort of a place.

Stand-out stalls include Alastair’s Rye Books – a subsidiary of the highly recommended bookshop based up the road – and the ever-popular hog roast van, most definitely worth a visit. There’s also the mobile Bicycle Nation pop-up tent, which provides a range of repairs at a reasonable price. The market’s open each Saturday morning.

ART: follow the East Dulwich street art trail

Don’t miss the street art. Photo: GC
Art is everywhere in SE22. And I’m not talking about the Lowry-esque scenes that accompany a Dulwich Hamlet home game, or a Londis carrier bag dancing evocatively in the wind. No, I mean actual, bona fide art.

Inspired by the paintings of Rembrandt, Rubens and other greats found hanging in Dulwich Picture Gallery, renowned street artists collaborated with the gallery across 2012 and 2013 to adorn the walls of Lordship Lane and surrounding streets with interpretations of those Baroque masterpieces.

The resultant works bring colour, character and no little charm to an area traditionally seen as rather quaint and perhaps even a little stuffy. My personal favourite has to be Conor Harrington’s Fight Club, which towers over the Goose Green mini-roundabout, but the joy of the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery (as it’s officially known) is in discovering new works all over the area, if you care to explore.

BOOZER: sink a pint at the Great Exhibition

Great Exhibition:
Top boozing tip: Great Exhibition.
If it’s pubs you’re after, East Dulwich has your back. From the dual fireplace intimacy of the EDT, to the craft beer coolness of The Flying Pig, drinkers of all persuasions can find something to love in the area.

Pick of the bunch though has to be the homely, slightly eccentric Great Exhibition. Taking its name from the Victorian world fair (so named due to its positioning on Crystal Palace Road, for those that know their history), it exudes warmth and character through its quirky décor, candlelit tables and heaving bar area.

The roasts are exceptional, and the pub quiz each Tuesday is both popular and a satisfying challenge. There’s also live music of the jazz/blues variety each Thursday, so if that’s your thing, head on down there. 193 Crystal Palace Road, London SE22

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  • natasha4mp

    belowtheriver you had me at East

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