The Bedford has an illustrious history filled with live music and comedy from the likes of Al Murray, Harry Hill, U2, Paolo Nutini and James Morrison. Who knew that ‘Saaf Laandon’ had such star appeal?
The Bedford is hardly the O2 Arena, but it’s certainly a lot more sizeable than your bog-standard boozer. The sprawling, corner-positioned building cuts an impressive figure and is very well located, spitting distance from Balham tube station.
On the ground floor, The Bedford could be any one of a thousand British pubs with its wood-heavy décor, trendily battered furniture, granny lamps, beer garden and homely appeal. It’s not until you scratch the surface that you start to uncover what sets this place apart. First, there’s the downstairs live music venue, which is sparse, dingy and firmly focussed around a decent-sized stage (well it would have to be given the stars who have performed here in the past!). Then there’s the comedy area complete with a wall covered with the faces of famous comics who have performed here in the past. And it’s an impressive mix.
Make no mistake, The Bedford is a legendary pub – both in the music and comedy worlds. The legends who have performed here are among the best the world has seen and for a little pub in south London to have drawn them in is nothing short of incredible.
These days, the regular comedy nights and live music events don’t often attract Glastonbury headliners but they still have a strong focus on quality acts, so you may end up watching the Amy Winehouse or Robin Williams of the future starting out in their career. On top of this, The Bedford has branched out with the entertainment that it offers and you can also get active mid-week with Zumba or swing dance classes. Of course, this is a fully functioning pub, so if it’s just a pint you want, that is perfectly acceptable.
There’s a simple menu available at The Bedford, covering pub classics at £10-£15 a dish. Fish and chips, burgers, pie of the day and steaks mix with slightly more inventive options such as butternut squash and baby spinach lasagne. It’s certainly not gastro fare but isn’t the sort of sub-level stomach-lining grub that has you reaching for a pint just to drown out the flavours.
The Bedford has a huge selection of draught pumps to choose from, covering most of the main high street lagers (such as Heineken, San Miguel, Red Stripe, Kronenbourg, Stella and Carling) alongside draught cider and ales. The ales include a mix of Sharp's Doombar, Itchen Valley Pure Gold, Courage Director's and a particularly nice Caledoinian Deuchars IPA. If you prefer the grape to the grain then there’s a small list of bottles covering all of the main commercial grape varieties and starting at just £14 a bottle.
The Last Word
The Bedford is a great pub in its own right with a cosy, lived-in appeal and fantastic range of draught beer. Beyond that, this place is legendary – and that’s not a word to be thrown around lightly.