Fun fact: Putney Bridge was the second built over the Thames after London Bridge. It's just as important to modern-day Londoners, thanks to being where the annual Oxford/Cambridge boat race starts, so whether you're looking for oar-some fun or just a great neighbourhood restaurant, you'll find it here.
Words: Neil Simpson and Eamonn Crowe
The Putney Canteen, 285-287 Putney Bridge Road, SW15 2PT (above)
This child-loving cafeteria/restaurant has its own soft play area for the little ones, as well as an open kitchen serving up terrific breakfasts. The range includes a full English (there’s a veggie option too), corn fritters with bacon and brioche French toast, all available from 7am (8am at the weekend).
Bibo 146 Upper Richmond Road, SW15 2SW (above)
Rustic Italian is the theme at Bibo, which is the work of restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas (who opened Elystan Street with Phil Howard) and Chris Beverley (one-time chef at Theo Randall at the InterContinental Hotel). The painted-brick room sets an unfussy tone, allowing the seasonal, generously portioned food to steal the limelight.
Emile’s 96-98 Felsham Road, SW15 1DQ
In the business for over 25 years, this classic neighbourhood restaurant boasts graceful service and a monthly changing menu, offering both classic French and modern British options. Individually baked beef Wellingtons are Emile’s speciality, while the good-value wine list trots across the globe.
Ma Goa 242-244 Upper Richmond Road, SW15 6TG
Opened in 1993, this longstanding exponent of Goan and South-Indian food is a family affair. It’s not modern or trendy, but charming staff, reasonable prices and a fascinating selection of regional dishes speak for themselves. Ma Goa’s normally closed on Sundays, but usually opens especially for the boat race.
Tomoe 292 Upper Richmond Road, SW15 6TH
Formerly Chosan, this sweet Japanese restaurant has now been taken over by a team which used to run Tomoe on Marylebone Lane. You’ll find bowls of ramen (lunch times only), as well as the likes of salmon teriyaki, seafood pancake and sushi, all winning piles of praise of its authenticity.
Hudsons 113 Lower Richmond Road, SW15 1EX (above)
Serving brunch all day every day from 8am, this laid-back and family-friendly affair has an extensive offering which covers stacked pancakes, eggs every way, an ‘LA Breakfast’ of soft tacos filled with cottage cheese and potato hash, a Morrocan option, a Greek option and breakfast burritos: Brunch sorted.
Jules 5 Lacy Road, SW15 1NH
The man behind this newcomer is the heir to Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) George Herbert, who’s providing a modern tapas menu, decent cocktails and a well-structured wine list. Weekend brunch is served 9am-3pm until 12.30pm Sundays) and includes pancakes and all the usual egg options.
The Boathouse Brewhouse Street, Putney, SW15 2NP (above)
This long-standing local boozer has a prime spot on Putney Wharf Development overlooking the Thames. Run by Young’s, expect fine ales, craft beers and a varied selection of wines. Food-wise, you'll find hearty Brit classics like ale-battered cod and chips with mushy peas, as well as warming fish pies.
Boma Bridge 4-6 Putney High Street, SW15 1SL
The riverside branch of this restaurant mini-chain continues to pull in the Putney crowds with its all-day offering. The kitchen’s mission is to use local produce on its menu of international dishes, from big burgers to beetroot risottos, while Boma puts on live music at the weekend too.
The Duke’s Head 8 Lower Richmond Road, SW15 1JN (above)
There’s no better public place to watch the Boat Race than from The Duke’s Head’s glass-fronted dining room overlooking the river – although it’s a pretty fine space to while away an hour or two on any day of the year. This is a proper pub serving real ales on tap, while there’s also a decent wine list.
The Spencer 237 Lower Richmond Road, SW15 1HJ
It’s a short stroll to the river from here but if you’d rather sit with a pint, you’ll be pleased to hear they show the Boat Race action on big screens and they do Sunday roasts. Food is just as good as the drinks at this classic pub, boasting a reasonably priced menu of gutsy, tasty food which changes regularly.
Star & Garter 4 Lower Richmond Road, SW15 1JN (above)
Sat right on the water’s edge, this laid-back, Victorian-era venue is a go-to riverside bar for after-work groups, parties and weekend get-togethers. The menu is heavy on snacks and sharing platters, with the French cheese platters (selected from the walk-in cheese room) being of particular note.
El Patrón 141 Upper Richmond Road, SW15 2TX
A good-time Latina cantina, El Patrón has a decor of peeling painted woods and a smattering of Mexican tourist tat to leave you with few doubts about the theme. There’s a handy range of Tequilas behind the bar; Cleo Rocos’ AquaRiva, the house pour, informs various fruity Margaritas, Sours and more.
Lost & Co 160 Putney High Street, SW15 1RS
This buzzy DJ bar mixes nu-Edwardian and New York with a hint of 50s rocker to provide the backdrop for some ‘nu-school’ British brewing. Meanwhile, well-priced and fun cocktails make this a superior re-imagining of what used to be Citizen Smith.
If you’re up for a deeper dive into Putney’s food scene, take a look at our full list of restaurants in the area, with 150 suggestions which you can filter by cuisine type.
This article was published 30 March 2017