Everyone’s got a pub for this, and a pub for that. One that’s just for winter, ’cos it’s whiffy in summer. Another where you go for the pool table, not for any pleasantries. The gaff that’s good for cheap pints, but bad for locals in rollerblades. Great food doesn’t often come into this, but that isn’t the case at The Camberwell Arms.
The Camberwell Arms isn’t a sticky carpet and jägers type of boozer. It’s a sticky pork fat and scotch bonnet on toast type of pub. From the moment you walk in, you can smell the beer in the floorboards and the butter in the air. To us, this is a kind of pub Bat-Signal that says: help, we need you to eat and drink everything. And you should be ready to do just that.
The front bar area is where you come for pints and picky things. A bowl of crab soup (with side-toastie for dipping) is a top-notch lunch to have looking out the window, while attempting to avoid the temptation of a swift pint. Once you fail this test, you may as well stick around. Get some friends down. Sit. Stand. Do whatever. It’s a pub. Just don’t dismiss the artichokes with walnut mayo. Not only are they an absolute treat, they also go delightfully with a Guinness.
If you haven’t booked a table, you’ll reach a point here - when daytime turns to nighttime, or pint-time turns to dinner-time - when you realise the only place you want to be is at a table in the dining area, sharing a Fred Flinstone-ish pork chop, with a feck-off pile of chips. So book. You won’t regret it. Especially if the oxtail risotto is on the menu. It’s a plate of adult baby food so good that you’ll throw a tantrum if you don’t get more. So make sure you have table room for it, because one is definitely not enough.
Similarly, one person isn’t enough for some of the menu at The Camberwell Arms. Their stalwart beef and bone marrow pie, as well a few of their (incredible) roast options, are strictly sharing only. They’re very much worth it, but not everything on the menu always is. We’ve had some so-so gnocchi and an okay fish stew in the past, but these feel more like short straws. By and large, the food here is excellent.
Pubs with food this good often feel more like restaurants than anything else, but that isn’t the case with The Camberwell Arms. You may not get rat-arsed here, but you’ll certainly get tanked up on delicious food and drink at a reasonable price. And this is something that people will always want from a pub.
You know when you get home from the pub, put some bread in the toaster, and then start rummaging for things to chuck on top? This is like the best possible version of that, only you’re still in the pub.
Of the two bread-y snacks, this is the runt. But that isn’t to say it isn’t still quite tasty. Soft and sweet onions on charred and soft bread is our favourite kind of adult baby food.
Forget the Book of Revelations, this is a plate of it. Crispy but soft artichokes with a tangy nutty sauce. Yes please.
So good that you’ll be humming Under The Sea with every spoonful.
We’re usually big fans of a croquette with molten filling, but these are just fine. You’re better off ordering other things.
The Camberwell Arms is really good with its meats, but it’s also really good with its vegetables. This crispy cauliflower in a pool of fresh and tangy dip is a great example.
So melty. So smooth. It’s like D’Angelo performing on a slip ’n slide. If this is on, order it.
A pub? Serving dhal? Oh yes, and you should order it. Because not only is it delicious, it’s perfect for dipping chips in.
This chop looks like it’s come straight from the T-Rex enclosure in Jurassic Park. It’s enormous, juicy, and one of the best we’ve ever had.
The chips here are out of the chippy school of, er, chippery. They’re chunky and soft and excellent sauce vehicles.
It’s not the fishiest fish stew we’ve ever had, but it’s completely fine.
Things change about here regularly: on the pasta-front we’ve had some okay gnocchi, but we’ve also had some very good ravioli.
Desserts here are nice, but they’re really nothing on the savoury stuff. The custard tart is the best of the lot.