Half way between Elephant and Castle and Camberwell on the busy Walworth Road, the Bananas Bar is a Portuguese bar which caters for the considerable Latin crowd in the area.
Architecturally speaking it’s basically a traditional British pub which has been given a bit of Latin-style redecoration. One end of the pub is dominated by a massive TV screen, which looks down on the small dance floor (pole included), but elsewhere there are tables to sit or eat at.
Walworth Road is a very mixed area and the bar is clearly friendly and inviting to all manner of locals, but essentially its main clientele is either Spanish/Portuguese or South American. In the day you’ll find families sitting down to lunch - in the evening the place starts to resemble a nightclub, and there are more couples and singletons on the prowl for a partner. The entertainment includes everything from live music and DJs playing Latin-themed music to a Brazilian barbecue on a Sunday afternoon.
Starters vary from garlic prawns (£5.90) to fried cassava (£3.50) and various combinations of vegetables (£3), while the main menu offers grilled chicken fillet, pork steak or beef with refried beans, all at £6. There are no vegetarian options but the chef will happily rustle up omelette and chips for the meat-phobic for the same price. The portions are reasonable if not huge (especially when you consider the relatively modest price tag) and fairly tasty if not quite gourmet fare. But you shouldn’t leave without trying the delicious torta prestigio coconut cake (£3).
As you‘d expect, Portuguese wines dominate the wine list, with Casal Garcia Verde (£17.95) and Monte Velho (£18.95) featuring among the whites and reds. Beers on tap include Sagres, Kronenbourg (both £4 per pint), Beck’s (£3.60), Fosters (£3.50), John Smith’s (£3.50) and Guinness (£3.70), with bottles of Sagres, Beck’s, Budweiser and Sol all available at £3. There’s also a massive list of more than 40 spirits, plus alcopops, and champagnes from Moet & Chandon (£48.50), Dom Perignon (£150) and even Cristal at £250 a bottle.
The Last Word
There‘s certainly little reflection of the culturally mixed atmosphere of Walworth Road, but there’s no doubt Bananas Bar fills a demand from a very specific market quite capably.