Dolphin, SE26 5HB
- 020 8778 8101
- 121 Sydenham Road, SE26 5HB
- noon-midnight Mon-Thu; noon-1am Fri-Sat; noon-11pm Sun
Pub in Sydenham. Reopened as a gastropub in December 2006 (used to be quite different), perhaps signalling the impending gentrification of the area.
The beer garden is specially designed and certainly worth a look. It was cordoned off with "please don't walk in the garden" signs on our visit though. Also has interesting tiling in the loos - see Bob's photo of the gents' and Kake's photo of the ladies'. The decor is fairly minimal gastropub-style; stripped wood, etc. Unfortunately many of the tables are not very sensibly matched heightwise with the chairs - unless you have very slim thighs you might find your circulation getting cut off after a while...
Kake and Bob visited on a Wednesday afternoon/evening in February 2008. It was fairly quiet during the afternoon, but filled up in the evening. Cup of tea (English Breakfast) was £1.70. Beers were Pride (£2.95/pint) and Landlord. There are four handpumps in all - the other two had their pump clips turned around, as is right and proper.
Food is served noon-3:30pm and 6:30pm-10pm Mon-Fri; noon-10pm Sat; and 12:30pm-4pm and 5pm-9pm Sun. Bar snacks photo of menu as of February 2008) are available in the afternoons. Kake tried the onion rings, having arrived way too early for dinner but only having had a light lunch; they cost £2 and were rather good, arriving good and hot, obviously freshly made, and comprising whole rings of red onion in a crispy batter.
When it got to actual dinner time, we shared the hummous, tapenade, and baba ganoush platter photo to start; it was really quite good, particularly the flatbread. For mains, Bob had the cassoulet, and Kake the ribeye steak; again, both were fine. Particularly good button mushrooms with the steak.
Service was very friendly, and generally quite competent, though there were minor niggles - no napkins or cutlery brought with the onion rings ordered earlier in the day, plus vinegar for chips in the evening was served in an entirely unsuitable milk jug. Glass-clearing was also slightly slow.
We liked the music - Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Cure, Pink Floyd, etc. (Bob pointed out that this is probably because it was mostly mid-90s music, and hence they're aiming at the thirtysomething crowd - i.e., us.) It wasn't too loud for conversation.
Supposedly has free wireless access - you get a temporary username and password from the bar - but I (Kake) couldn't get it to work - admittedly I gave up trying after I found someone else's perfectly good open network. There is also a selection of newspapers available to borrow.
It's possible to reserve tables, at least in the evening.
Greg McCarroll adds:
- You can make reservations for Sunday lunch at least (i.e. during the day).
- I'm not sure I really like their proper gravy on Sundays, but I'm a gravy snob.
- Some of their small sharing dishes are great, e.g. they did croquettes of cod and mash that were great.
- They've also done very good Spatzle (an Austrian dish), I just wish it had some sauce with it.
- All in all, the best place to eat in Sydenham/Penge if you don't fancy a Chinese, curry, breakfast or kebab.