Test Driving Bermondsey Larder - new location, same great Dairy

roomThe new-look Dairy. Quite a bit different from the old, but due to the speed of turnaround it's mainly the same tables and chairs that were already in situ at Bermonds Locke. As you can see - plenty of social distancing space (and there's also room for tables on the terrace - but that will be more inviting once the building work opposite is complete). 

What can you tell us about Bermondsey Larder?

The Dairy was a much-loved restaurant in Clapham from Robin and Sarah Gill, who are also behind Darby's and the recent opening at Birch, Zebra Riding Club. The original Dairy closed as the lockdown started, but only a few weeks later they announced that they were unable to reopen in the current climate.

Thankfully that sad news only lasted a week as it was soon followed by the announcement that they'd be opening here instead. By moving into this new restaurant space, they have been able to relocate and save both the restaurant and the jobs of the people working there. 

But it's not The Dairy any more?

Unfortunately, while it was called The Dairy Bermondsey for a couple of weeks, a new dispute meant they had to change the name. So it quickly became Bermondsey Larder, but it's really The Dairy 2.0 in all ways other than the name. 

So where exactly is the new "Dairy"?

They're now part of the Bermonds Locke development - which is, to put it simply, an aparthotel in Bermondsey (the actual marketing calls it an "urban oasis"). They've taken up space on the ground floor and for now, the entrance is from Tower Bridge Road. To find the restaurant, just walk through the Bermonds Locke lobby and you'll find Bermondsey Larder at the back. It's a 10-15 minute walk from London Bridge tube (and you can have a nice stroll down Bermondsey Street on the way). 

Where should we meet for a drink before?

Given the restrictions at the time of writing - a drink before is probably more on the cards than a drink after. While just arriving here is certainly an option - it has a great cocktail and wine list - you'll also find many options on the walk from London Bridge. Our top bets would be a sneaky margarita in Santo Remedio or a cocktail in the excellent Nine Lives.

roomThe Somerset Spritz - Homemade ginger wine, plum sake and Somerset 3yo cider brandy (£9.50)

Where should we sit?

Everything's very spread out for COVID reasons - the larger space at the new restaurant certainly helps with that - and it's a mix of high and low tables. We'd say grab a table by the window if you can. 

And what's on the menu? 

As with the original restaurant, it's a combination of snacks and small plates alongside a few bigger options which could be considered mains. The menu is shifting all the time due to seasonal produce - so while there are some recurring themes in the dishes, they shift slightly over time. Even our menu had changed from what was being served a few days ago. 

There are some constants though - like Janine's sourdough which comes with whipped herb noisette (The Dairy always has excellent butter/spreads) as well as the house-made pickles and salume that you can order as snacking food while you peruse the menu. Here's what we had when we visited: 

roomTartlet of smoked cod's roe, cuore del Vesuvio tomatoes, marjoram (£9.50) - hands-down the best dish of the night and it seems to be a mainstay of the menu at the moment. Excellent pastry and a bed of cod's roe overlaid with the best-tasting tomatoes we've had this year. A must-order.

roomTarragon bettered hake, pea, Amalfi lemon (£7) - wonderful batter, a version of this dish is usually available using the latest seafood catch. 

roomCrudo of red mullet, greengages and sorrel (£7)

roomWood roasted lamb, Hosford hayonnaise, charred lettuce, mint oil (£17) - that "hayonnaise" is just as it sounds, hay infused mayo studded with capers. 

roomAubergine, flatbread, stracciatella, black garlic, almond (£13) - such a great veggie main.

roomRoasted pink fir potatoes, sexy fat (£4.50) - the "sexy fat" results in a crisp skin all round. Would be even better paired with a dip or sauce though. 

roomWhipped creme fraiche pannacotta, greengages, olive oil sable (£7.50) - such a lovely early autumn dessert.

roomChocolate salted caramel (£7.50) - a choux bun filled with chocolate salted caramel cream. Phenomenal. If you want a look inside, play the video below.

What about drinks?

As mentioned above, the short cocktail list is worth a look - ranging between the £10-£12 mark. Wines by the glass start off at a very reasonable £5.50 (125ml) with 500ml carafes starting at £21 (that's for a Valencian 2018 Medusa on the red list). 

The main one-page wine list itself focuses on small producers and natural wines, with a small section for the orange variety too. If it's all looking a bit unfamiliar to you, the staff are extremely helpful in pointing you to something that will suit your taste. As for us, we were very happy with our bottle of 2018 Reserve de Gassac Languedoc (£31) which happily carried us through the meal. 

Overall thoughts

Sadness turned to joy when the fears of The Dairy being lost turned into a tale of it being saved at the eleventh hour. While they've moved into a building that wasn't initially meant for them, they already seem quite at home there (and the extra room for distancing is certainly going to help). What's more, the excellent menu and service is still intact - so we think there are plenty more glory days ahead for The Dairy/Bermondsey Larder yet. 

Hot Dinners dined as guests of The Dairy. Prices correct at time of publication. 


More about Bermondsey Larder

Where is it? 153-157 Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 3LW

How to book: Book online.

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @bermondseylarder


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