161 Food + Drink in Sydenham is a great place to head for a coffee or glass of wine and a bite to eat if you’re in the area. Situated at 161 Kirkdale, it’s easily accessible from both Forest Hill and Sydenham and seems to have proved a hit with the locals. It’s been open since July last year and when I finally got round to visiting this weekend it was packed. With it’s laid back vibe, it’s the perfect place to while away a couple of hours at the weekend. It describes itself as a ‘neighbourhood place with Melbourne influences’. That roughly translates as a small, friendly, relaxed cafe bar that serves decent coffee, great local beers, fantastic wines and a small selection of tasty small dishes. Prices are reasonable too.
The interior is part rustic part industrial, with old wooden doors around the bar, hanging metal pendant lights and metal stools for seating. The menu, which is written on a chalk board on the wall, is updated daily and changes in the evening, when they add dishes such as the meat and cheese plates which are perfect for sharing with a bottle of wine. At the weekend during the day time the menu features brunch style dishes such as baked egg or Baghdad eggs. Since I was nursing a bit of a hangover I opted for a Bloody Mary. Priced at £4.50, I thought it was rude not to try one. With a decent kick to it, it definitely helped my hangover and I’m sure it won’t be the last one I have there. Food wise I shared a meat plate which consisted of a selection of decent salami. I loved the addition of the free shot glass of bar snacks that came with the drinks we ordered too, very continental and a much appreciated addition to the cocktail. 161 Food + Drink support local suppliers too which is nice to see. Beers such as Canopy Brockwell IPA brewed in Herne Hill and Late Knights brewed in Penge are served. My other half sampled the Late Knights IPA which he approved of.
All of the beer and wine is available to take away, so if you fancy getting a decent bottle of wine to drink at home then it’s worth taking a look here rather than heading to the supermarket. Bottles show two prices, a drink in price and a takeaway price. Their cheapest bottle to takeaway is the house wine priced at £7.50. I haven’t tried it but I’m guessing it’s better than Jacob’s Creek. House wines are served by the glass and they also have a ‘Now Pouring’ selection of wines written on the board behind the counter which these change regularly – I’m told that these wines are whatever the owners fancy opening. They also do wine tasting evenings which you can look out for on their twitter feed. Wine is clearly a big passion for the owners which is pretty apt since most people when I was there on Sunday afternoon were drinking wine.
Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, 161 Food + Drink is open on Wednesday evenings and all day Thursday to Sunday. It was great to hang out there on a Sunday afternoon. I haven’t been in the evening yet but look forward to sampling some of the wines when I do.