Chalk this one up as another victory for South London: a restaurant that required me to cross the river has absolutely captivated me with its charm and flavours. Lulu’s a neighbouring wine bar-cum-shop-cum-restaurant to the already revered Llewelyn’s in Herne Hill (see? I told you! SOUTH south) has captured my heart. In an intimate shop-front, wedged into the corner of the building, I had one of the best meals in recent memory, and I’ve since told everyone about it.
Essentially the smaller, and younger, sibling to Llewelyn’s, Lulu’s at night is a playful take on the warm, unstuffy wine bars of Paris and Barcelona. It’s a welcoming, homey place for guests to purchase bakes, snacks, and foodie goodies, or enjoy small plates of food in a lively wine-fuelled atmosphere. And it’s an absolute delight.
Lulu’s by day
By day, Lulu’s sells bakes and coffee, deli products, gifts for your foodie friends and family members (or yourself!) and lunchtime sandwiches and salads. The freshly made sandwiches make use of bread from The Snapery and can include such options from ciabatta with mortadella, pistachio, and rocket, to baguette with jambon Prince de Paris, tarragon mustard mayonnaise, and cornichons, and beyond. The salads, meanwhile, are hyper seasonal, with the current wintry offerings ranging from chickpeas, chard, preserved lemon, and guindillas, to roast cauliflower, bulgur, yoghurt, and dukkah.
But it’s important not to ignore the wealth of products on sale alongside these daily options. The Lulu’s team have chosen their favourite products to stock the shelves alongside some retail options from Llewelyn’s. These include cheeses from Neal’s Yard, bagels from Papo’s Bagels, Honest Toil olive oil, artisan Martelli pasta, luxury tinned fish from The Tinned Fish Market, and more. Be sure not to miss the Llewelyn’s House Pickles, either, which make their retail debut at Lulu’s.
Lulu’s by night
The Lulu’s team were keen from the outset to make it a dual-purpose space, transforming at night into one of the cosiest eateries in London. At night they clear the counters and light the candles, inviting guests to pull up a stool and enjoy delicious food and wine. Ingredient-led dishes rule the menu, and while they describe the food as ‘small plates’ – the reality is anything but. Executive Chef Lasse Petersen’s dishes range from small nibbles to mountains of cured meat and filling dishes that would be classed as mains on any other menu.
Cheeses, from Fenn Farm, and fresh bread are a constant on the ever-changing menu. As is a sweet final plate: a simple crème caramel or the decadent Lulu’s chocolate and wild pepper pot.
General Manager Will Weir’s wine list runs the gamut of experimental choices, offering diners bottles from Slovenia, Georgia, Beaujolais, Tuscany, and beyond. Wines are available both by the glass and the bottle, so sample widely or make a commitment for the evening – you can’t go wrong. But don’t ignore the tiny cocktail menu! The Marmalade Martini and Suze & Tonic are faultlessly executed.
With space for less than 20 people inside, the vibe at Lulu’s is like an after-hours dinner at the wine shop that your mate works in, or a large dinner party at someone’s house. And it’s in these low-lit, close together environs that diners and drinkers are served phenomenal small plates where the smallest details have been carefully considered.
A Marmalade Martini at the start revealed a masterclass on the cocktail, going drier and more floral than most places do – with a lovely boozy finish. And the wine finds you in good hands, with plenty of choice across the spectrum of vino. As always, too, be sure to make use of the staff’s expertise if you’re not sure what to drink – they know what they’re doing!
On the food side, the starting bite of gilda crammed acid, crunch, salt, and spice onto one skewer. The mortadella, meanwhile, defied all expectations of cured meat in a restaurant. I’d typically expect a few slices of product artfully arranged on a plate. No. Not at Lulu’s. Instead you’re presented with an absolute mountain of mortadella that becomes an ever-present, never-dwindling, side for every other dish ordered.
Portions at Lulu’s continued with the trend of being unexpected and surprising in delightful ways. The massive raviolo absolutely dominated its plate, itself submerged beneath a veritable snowfall of Perigord truffle. The salads were enormous, with the Mojo Rojo sauce from the squid, artichoke, and pink firs salad a true stand-out of surprising spice and depth of flavour. But it was the aforementioned pasta, filled with goat’s curd and egg yolk, that truly astounded me. It was a showstopping, plate-scraping, bread-dousing finish to the meal. My dining partner and I were sure to clean that plate completely.
Must order dishes
The menu changes constantly at Lulu’s, but if you see any of these on the night you visit – order on sight.
- Poponcini stuffed with Whipped Cod’s Roe
- Winter Tomato with Marjoram & Tapenade on Toast
- Squid, Artichoke, Pink Firs & Mojo Rojo
- and the Goat’s Curd & Egg Yolk Raviolo with Hazelnut & Sage and Perigold Truffle.
Oh, and don’t forget the Marmalade Martini!
It’s hard for me to rave much more about Lulu’s. It’s an incredible addition to London’s wine bars, eateries, and delis all at once. In fact, it’s one of only very few venues that make me genuinely consider crossing the Thames on a more regular basis. And extra points to them for having a curly-mopped logo that looks exactly like me. If only more venues were considerate enough to put pictures of me on their walls and plates!