So you’ve never been to…#1. The Mere Scribbler

In which we take a wry look at neighbourhood faves old and new. First off, Streatham’s refurbed boozer

interior of the mere scribbler

Livelyhood’s latest recruit, The Mere Scribbler. Photo: PR

Age: A mere month old.

Previous incarnation: The Bank, a run-down old boozer which poured its final pint last year. The venue was brought by Livelyhood, an independent company that has taken it upon itself to resuscitate some of south London’s fallen watering-holes. This is the fourth takeover by a company whose head honcho is Sarah Wall, a longstanding Streatham local.

What’s it like post-refurb? Comfy chairs, turquoise walls and a strong lamp-game give the traditional wooden-floored boozer that gastropub twist. The sight of Streatham Common in bloom, peering in through the large windows, lends a countryside feel.

And the food? In general, we’re talking hearty pub grub with a dash of creativity laced through the dishes. A three-cheese gnocchi with cavolo nero and swede, bangers with a root vegetable mash and a selection of burgers, and your standard beef and chicken options; while the vegetarian offering contains smoked ricotta, toasted sage and caramelised onions.

Much cop? The starters were impressive. Curly artichoke crisps scattered on a rich bed of smoked harissa hummus, its deep flavours offset by zesty gremolata, although paired with slightly-too-crispy pitta bread. Definitely not to be missed too is the succulent, crispy pork belly, drizzled with a gentle chipotle sauce stacked a top a bed of rocket, kohlrabi and carrot.

Crispy Pork Belly, Photo: Clare Hand

And the mains? Slightly less impressive on our visit. The chilli did little to cut through the three cheeses of the gnoochi, and the swede proved unnecessary, providing an unwelcome crunch in a large buttery bowl. The steak was not as rosy as requested, and served with fairly brutish chips. Although perhaps lacking a little finesse then, this does not detract from what is essentially a satisfying meal in a chilled village pub.

Rip off or regular? Mains average out at about £12, considering the amount of food you get this seems reasonable, burgers are a tenner. What’s more, on a handful of dishes the pub gives a pound to a local youth project.

And the drinks? To complement their strong focus on local produce, as evident in their beer offerings, Livelyhood is running their very own SW London Gin Tour. The cocktail list includes Peckham’s finest Little Bird gin martinis, Graveney G+T’s from Tooting and and Clapham’s Chilgove gin negronis.

The garden. Photo: PR

What’s the service like? Attentive and notably friendly. As people streamed in and out the staff seemed as genuinely pleased to see the regulars as they did to welcome first-timers. This enhanced the village-boozer feeling oozing from the Scribbler.

Any surprises? Pairs of people kept coming in and out of a door that we assumed was the loo. After eventually clocking on, we realised that this wasn’t in fact the toilets, but the door to the garden. Here, a few tables are situation in a birdcage-like, fairy-lit frame. Definitely worth spending one of those allusive warm summer’s evening boozing in.

Do say: “Is this the way to the bird cage?”

Don’t say: “Can I have a Bombay Sapphire and tonic please?”

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The Mere Scribbler is located at 246 Streatham High Road, right next to Streatham Common, and is open daily. Find out more here.

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