Fun things to do in London south of the Thames – Gin Bar, Brewery and French wine bar near Borough Market, City Hall, Tower and London Bridge

Great London Brewery - The Kernel

Welcome to "The Kernel"

After living in London for 4 years (some of that near Borough Market and London Bridge Tube Station) I thought I knew all the great things to do in London south of the river. Especially to do with beer, wine, pubs and fine food. I was wrong.

In late June 2012, an American/British friend took me to a wonderful area, where we visited a rickety gin bar, market (cheese, tapas, antique furniture anyone?), terrific French wine bar and – wait for it – a brewery! Bonus.

What a day. The highlight, with beer running through my veins of course, was one of London’s latest breweries – Kernel Brewery.

Kernel Brewery near Bermondsey Tube station south LondonIf you are here visiting for the 2012 London Olympics and would like to experience something unique in London (and of course you love food and wine), this quaint French food and wine bar near Borough Market is for you.

My afternoon started by meeting my learned friend at the brewery. Gorgeous sunshine that you could just dip your toe into (beer is not allowed outside the brewery arches unfortunately).

Beer in the sun in London at The Kernel BreweryIf you like Little Creatures Brewery in Perth, Australia – and are trying to find a similar nice beer venue or brewery in London – start here. Not as big or as impressive as Little Creatures, however it is a fine brewery in its own London style.

At this unassuming brewery you can sit on the benches under the arches and still manage a slither of sunshine (see Exhibit A on the right).

Oh, and while here, pop your head around to the next arch where The Butchery is located for some fine English meats.

A top day out in London near London and Tower Bridge – Ropewalk and Maltby Street Market

French wine bar in south London, 40 Maltby Street

40 Maltby Street French Wine Bar (see "The Shard" in the background)

Our aim for the day was to sip French wine and graze on gorgeous French food at 40 Maltby Street.

We were not disappointed. And a pleasant find was the very affordable bottles of quality French wine you could buy there and take home, £10-£20 for most. 40 Maltby Street is open Thu – Sun (but closed 14 July – 18 August 2012). The rest of the week it is open as a wine cellar, so you can head along and buy top French wine at a good price in London, but you need to take it home to drink on those days.

The food was amazing, the service excellent and selection of wines (and advice you got on your wines), spot on. We had a couple of Australian’s in our group and they found it hard to pick wine varietals they knew, so the helpful staff took their time explaining and converting wines they were used to, to a similar French bottle.

Be sure to allow 4-5 hours on a sunny afternoon to laze about this wonderful French wine bar, and explore the market next door.

We were in awe at the smaller market on Ropewalk, to the right when facing the front door of 40 Maltby Street (you can’t miss the hive of activity).

At the market we picked up some amazing organic milk and eggs (great value, and I had the fluffiest omelet the next morning), Spanish tapas, devine cheese from around the UK and the world, tasty coffee and meandered through the antique furniture store. It mainly sells 400+ year old floor boards taken from churches around the UK. We were told the Market is actually on private land and the landowner started it, to attract well-healed clientele to his antique store. Very smart.

The story goes a group of vendors at Borough Market used the arches under the overground train line going into London Bridge Station as extra storage, with Borough Market fast running out of room. The group bought an old icecream van to share shunting their goods back-and-forth, it was a lovely arrangement.

Some “market” politics saw this group ejected from Borough Market with 48 hours notice in 2009! They had to not only think but act fast. They decided to make a new market destination in London south of the river, to compete with Borough Market a little. It has been a great success, with the Ropewalk very crowded when we visited, and the bar (40 Maltby Street) able to shut 14 July – 18 August 2012 so the team can go to France and work at a wine fete, and have a holiday. In the peak of the summer and tourist season, they shut!

There is a more traditional antique shop on Tanner Street – so when leaving 40 Maltby Street, instead of turning left into the market at Ropewalk (where there is one, more expensive, antique shop), turn left and walk to the end of the street. You will see Tower Bridge Antiques there.

How to get to Maltby Street Market

In a bit of a transport black hole unfortunately,  Maltby Street Market is near 2 Tubes – London Bridge Tube and Bermondsey Tube. If you are interested in the brewery I would recommend you get off at Bermondsey, walk to the Kernel Brewery then onto the Market before walking to London Bridge Tube. Or, do it in reverse, it is a nice walk around that area.

Here is a map of the Market, Tower Bridge Antiques and the Kernel (the latter moved in 2012, so be sure you go to the right address - 148 Spa Road  London SE16 4QT!)

And we know some spectacular pubs around this area of London, just south of the Thames river near London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Borough Market and Maltby Street Market.

Be sure to download our Android or iPhone pub app here to find the best pubs in London, especially after visiting the Maltby Street Market or Kernel Brewery!

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