So you’ve never been to…40 Maltby Street SE1

One of south London's most acclaimed restaurants, this railway arch in Bermondsey is a must

Age: Ooh, coming up to a decade.

Where exactly is it? On one of south London’s most characterful thoroughfares, Ropewalk on Maltby Street.

OK. So what goes on there? Deep within a rickety railway arch is a counter with bar, tiny open kitchen, high stools and sharing tables. But it’s the quality of food that’s striking, with acclaimed head chef Stephen Williams at the helm, whose CV is littered with the high-end and award-winning (The Ledbury, The Harwood Arms).

Head chef Williams (left) and sous. Photo: SE

What should I eat? As much as you can stomach and/or have the dollar for; these are utterly delicious morsels. Delicate pumpkin fritters come blobbed with goat’s curd and zingy green sauce, while a wintry plate of smoked, cured and pickled fish (salmon, herring and bass, see below) is adorned with dill, vegetable pickles and roe. Brussels tops and turnips are a super-healthy side, enlivened with garlic and chilli, while a dense, slightly oily game sausage roll, with overly creamy slaw, was the only item that bordered on too rich.

The must-eat? The simplest plate, in fact: glazed pork collar ham, sliced thick, with the best home-made mustard we think we’ve ever tasted. Served with sourdough and butter, this was sensational: carnivorous types must order it forthwith.

A plate of cured fish. Photo: SE

And what do I drink? Located in the warehouse of Gergovie Wines, the restaurant sells bottles produced by a handful of wine-makers who eschew the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides – so it’s natural all the way. Our Brouilly was slightly chilled, the gamay a juicily versatile match for both fish and meat.

What’s the service like? Efficient, a little curt, but then the place is rammed the whole time, with legions of tourists as desperate not to miss out as locals. So our advice is to soak it all up – but don’t expect a hug as you leave.

Do say: ‘Quick, let’s grab a seat right there by the open kitchen.’

Don’t say: ‘Is Tozino better?’ (Clue: it’s not – although it’s still a strong Plan B, should you need one.)

40 Maltby Street open Wed/Thurs evenings, Fri-Sun lunch and dinner. Around £20-30 a head without wine.

Main image: 40 Maltby Street

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