A friendly gastropub conversion near Loughborough Junction Station.

You can tell there are signs of gentrification in an area when it gets a gastropub, and judging by the well-to-do accents heard around Ruskin Park, it's none too soon for this corner of London, near the much-maligned Loughborough Junction (the pubs nearest the station remain closed and boarded, though).

There's a large beer garden out back on several levels and attractively presented (including a BBQ in the corner) photo, and seating inside curves around the central bar, with the usual range of comfortable sofas and wooden tables, hanging chandeliers and other familiar gastro-style decor. Staff are very friendly and chatty, trying to get the menu printed up for the day when Ewan visited at midday on a Saturday, just as they opened. By 1pm the place was getting busier, popular with family groups, in particular.

The bar has two handpulls in use (there are four in total), with Black Sheep Bitter and Adnam's Broadside on a July 2009 visit. Draught beers included Staropramen, Leffe (£2.30/half pint), San Miguel, and Bulmer's cider.

The menu emphasises the sourcing of ingredients from Smithfield meat market and New Covent Garden for fruit & veg, and indeed the ingredients in Ewan's main course were all fresh and well cooked, though a little pricy at £9. It was vegetarian sausages (doing their best imitation of real ones, and tasty too) on a base of pepperonata photo, not overdone and well-judged, though the plate of bread on the side seemed a bit unnecessary.

They advertise a pub quiz on Thursdays, among other events.

Ewan's verdict: This is a welcome local pub for the area, and hits all the right notes.

itsbruce's verdict: This is a very friendly pub with a varied crowd of customers and staff who work hard at maintaining the welcoming atmosphere. It also serves very good food for a gastropub. Shame they stopped the Tuesday night curry club; food was excellent.

The ViewLondon Review

Review by Kelly Hussey 11/04/2011

The Cambria is the kind of pub you wished you had on the end of your road. Beautifully presented with a fantastic beer garden, it ticks all of the boxes and establishes Camberwell’s status on the more ‘up’ side of ‘up-and-coming’.

The Venue
The Cambria is stunning to look at. It may not look like much from the outside, but stepping inward is like entering a playground for grown-ups. Immediately your eyes will fall on the ornate bar covered in plush red leather. Then you’ll start to notice other little touches. The funky vase filled with pretty flowers, the swirling, delightfully OTT wallpaper, the ornate mirrors, old fashioned lamps and incredibly elaborate – and eclectic – seating. It’s something out of the pages of a storybook and you’ll be loathe to go back to any run of the mill pubs after a visit here. And they top this off with a gorgeous – and sizeable – patio area out back, complete with lots of plants and plenty of seating.

The Atmosphere
The atmosphere here is one of people content and happy in the knowledge that their pub is possibly the prettiest in London. A certain in-the-know feeling fills the space, with the majority of customer made up of locals and regulars. This is part of the beauty of Camberwell – people still avoid it despite it having a big facelift over the years and emerging as something of a butterfly, particularly when it comes to the area’s pub scene. The staff are incredibly friendly and welcoming to new faces, however, and you’ll be made to feel a part of the very beautiful furniture in no time.

The Food
Competitively priced for the area, with mains coming in at around £10 a head, the food at The Cambria is mainly pub staples with an upmarket twist. For example, instead of sausage and mash you get Toulouse sausages with a creamy mash and spiced apple sauce. And the good old fish ‘n’ chips has been replaced with roasted salmon fillet with harissa potato, mushy pea cake and roasted balsamic tomatoes. Fancy!

The Drink
With over a dozen red wines and as many whites, covering a huge range of prices for most budgets, it’s up to you to make your visit here what you want. It’s almost worth splurging on one of their better quality bottles to make the most of your experience. The wine covers a range of regions and grape varieties and the options are very well described, allowing you to make an informed choice and match your tastes to the bottle. If it’s beer you’re after, they do offer a strong selection of draught lagers as well as Guinness and real ales like the much-applauded Doom Bar.

The Last Word
The Cambria is flourishing following a facelift in August 2010 and it’s easy to see why. Proving you can have style and substance, it’s an example of why travelling south of the river can be oh-so worth it.