A new ping pong bar, bringing a good game of wiff-waff home to its literal birthplace.
Situated on an unassuming pavilion with a small door next to a pharmacy, it is easy to miss Bounce London from the outside. It is well worth searching for, though. After descending the small flight of stairs to the reception, you are greeted by a blue plaque declaring that on this very site, the modern sport of ping pong, AKA table tennis or indeed wiff-waff, was invented in the nineteenth century. This alone does not maketh a bar, especially given the recent wave of social table tennis venues popping up about town, but on progressing from the reception to the cavernous underground bar-cum-restaurant-cum-sports arena, you quickly begin to realize that Bounce is on another level. The huge space boasts 14 different tables, including an ex-world championship table, and perhaps most impressively, the actual table used at the London Olympics.
Since its launch in early October, Bounce London has been very busy. After receiving plenty of hype, the effects are clear to see, with every table booked up in advance until late at night: phoning ahead is highly advisable. That said, if ping pong is not your thing, this is still a great venue. The large bar offers up some fantastic drinks, and as long as you don’t mind the occasional stray ball bouncing around, the atmosphere is convivial and the music, a roster of classic hits from the 60s through to the 00s, does not prohibit conversation. In fact, conversation flows freely in this place, as pairs challenge each other to doubles matches, and everyone is swept up in a bit of good-natured competition.
At the far end of the venue there is an elevated restaurant area, providing space for about 70 covers, and serving up some excellent food along with drinks from the bar. The pizza oven is a definite bonus, and the freshly baked sourdough creations are some of the best on offer anywhere in town. At around £10 a go they are not the cheapest, but shouldn’t leave you disappointed. Although the pizzas are very much the main attraction for restaurant diners, a great selection of delicious small plates (and pizza sliders) are available at your ping pong table. Simple Mediterranean fusion food including anchovies, coppa and pecorino (all around £4 each) really hits the spot after a heated round of table tennis.
At the heart of this venue is the huge reclaimed bar, which apparently takes inspiration from London’s gin palaces of yesteryear. On offer are three draught beers at £4 a pint, with the interesting addition of Blue Moon (at a 50p premium) to some more standard lagers. The wine list is as varied as that of any small restaurant, with bottles ranging from £18 to £50, along with a £210 03 Dom Perignon to celebrate that extra special ping pong victory. All this, alongside an extensive and boutique cocktail list, provide for almost every conceivable drinking taste.
The Last Word
Bounce is a fun, relaxed and original addition to London’s ping pong scene. Come for a game or three, and stay for some food and a relaxed drink. Boris will be pleased that wiff-waff has finally come home.