No more the butt of jokes lampooning it as 'the gateway to the south’, Balham is now buzzy, bustling and, yes, fashionable. The Bedford – a big, brick-built railway hotel dating from Victorian
times – now offers something for everyone, but has built its solid reputation as a dedicated live music pub: U2 and The Clash once played here, while recent guests have included James Morrison, KT
Tunstall and revenant 1980s poseurs Curiosity Killed the Cat. Also expect to find top comedy, tango and salsa classes, exotic cabaret and ‘dance your socks off’ club nights. Deuchars IPA and
Sharp’s Doom Bar beat anything on tap, while wines from £3.50 a glass include perky Pinot Grigio. Food is a mixture of classic pub grub: homemade soup, rib-eye steak, mussels and fries (£9.50),
butternut squash and spinach lasagne, pitta bread and dips, pies and puds. Like we said, something for everyone.