Situated in between West Norwood, Brixton, Herne Hill and West Dulwich, Tulse Hill has long been overlooked as a destination for drinking and dining. Having lived in the nearby area all my life, I admittedly never stepped foot inside the Tulse Hill Hotel’s former guise as a regular ‘old men’s’ pub. However, when I heard the pub had been taken over in late 2014 by the Metropolitan Pub Company, known for their quality gastropubs on both sides of the river, I knew I had to check it out.
Tulse Hill has existed as a residential area since the early 19th century, with the land being owned by the Tulse family since the 1650s. The opening of Tulse Hill train station in the 1860s really created a boom in the area’s growth. Situated on what was muddy Norwood Lane – now Norwood Road – the Tulse Hill Hotel was built in 1840 and became a notable landmark in the area. The Met Pub Co have restored the hotel back to its Victorian grandeur, creating a nine-room boutique hotel and splitting the downstairs pub into separate restaurant and drinking areas with an antique bar and cosy fireplaces.
Despite being situated on a busy junction on the South Circular, it’s surprisingly relaxing and quiet inside. Having visited last summer just for drinks, the decent sized garden out back was quite a draw on a warm evening. Earlier this month for a friend’s birthday, I finally got the chance to check out the restaurant when we booked a lunch seating. Visiting on a weekday afternoon, the pub was fairly quiet in comparison to evenings and weekends when I have been for drinks. We were shown to a comfortable table for three with views out of the wide landscape windows to the garden, letting in lots of light.
The restaurant offers seasonal British fare throughout the day, from breakfast through to brunch and lunch and dinner, as well as bar food in the pub section. To my delight, they serve brunch dishes daily up until 5pm. So despite some of the delicious lunch options on offer such as Stone Bass or Onglet Steak, I couldn’t resist the lure of the brunch menu. I decided on Poached Eggs and Smoked Salmon served on Sourdough Toast (£8). The egg was cooked perfectly, with the yolk oozing over the salmon and bread… delicious. As we were celebrating a birthday, we had to have some bubbles as well, opting for an Elderflower Bellini, which was a perfect light and refreshing tipple for that time of the day. It was also served in a coupe glass, rather than a flute, which was a nice touch.
Despite not having a huge appetite on the day, the dessert menu was just too appealing so I plumped for a Chocolate Tart and Salted Caramel Ice Cream (£7). It was enjoyable, but very rich so perhaps recommended for serious chocoholics. The ice cream did tone down the richness somewhat and complemented it well.
Overall, it was a good experience and I will definitely be back to both the restaurant and the pub. The staff are friendly and professional. We had a really lovely and chatty waitress who gave us her personal recommendations. The venue itself is really fitted out well, it’s very cosy, yet full of light and the period features are charming. Tulse Hill has long needed a decent food and drink venue and I’m glad it finally has one after all these years.
- Tulse Hill Hotel, 150 Norwood Road, Tulse Hill, SE24 9AY. Nearest station: Tulse Hill. For more information, visit the Tulse Hill Hotel website.
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