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The Refectory at Southwark Cathedral

No church mice to be seen anywhere, says Clifford Mould

Regular surfers of Dine Online may have noticed that we've been taking a close look at some of the catering outlets in some of London's destination venues. We found excellent cooking at Festival Square at the Royal Festival Hall, and at the Wallace Collection art gallery to name only a couple. At last it looks as though museum administrators are beginning to realise that a feast for the eyes is not enough!


Earlier in then year I popped into the Refectory at Southwark Cathedral for a quick tea and cake on my way back from Vinopolis, the remarkable wine exhibition in Southwark. I was impressed and as I was going to Vinopolis again the other day, I thought I'd drop in to The Refectory again to see what their lunch time offerings are like.

The modern dining room is in a precinct under the shadow of the great Cathedral, and on sunny days you can sit outside, people watching, on the terrace. We tried guessing whether passers by were Tate Modern types, or budding Goths on their way to the London Dungeon, or perhaps salty tars about to climb the rigging of Drake's ship The Golden Hind in its nearby dock. There's plenty to see and do in this exciting and historic corner of London, and The Refectory makes a good watering hole where you'll find quality home made food and drink at sensible prices.

The dining room itself blends in with the Cathedral, but is not in the least monastic! It's licensed and there are wines and ales, some of which have been bottled and labelled especially for the Cathedral.  In the summer on Tuesdays and Thursdays there's a barbecue going, and we tried the yummy grilled pesto veggie skewers (£5.95). The pumpkin soup  was deliciously rustic. The home made soups at the Refectory are a bit of a legend with the locals. They're offered in various packages, starting at £3.50 for a generous bowl, or £4.95 with a choice of sandwich, or with a salad and a goat's cheese or prawn and herb tartlet. I had the goat's cheese tartlet - it all tasted very genuine - nothing bought in here!

The real reputation of the Refectory is founded on the most extravagantly wicked cakes. There's a layered lemon pancake torte which is simply amazing. Apparently the chef is getting a bit tired of having to make it so often, but when he tries to break out there's an outcry and he's dragged back to the batter and the skillet once again! As for the chocolate cake - it's a disgrace - fancy offering something so abominably sinful in a holy place - it's just not fair.

It's really nice to be able to recommend a lunch place (and breakfast and tea) that offers such good quality for sensible prices. 

The Refectory, Southwark Cathedral
No reservations, except for functions - what a great place in which to have a bit of a do!

Clifford Mould August 2004

UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010

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