I want to move to Peckham. I love living in Brixton, it keeps me very well in cool cocktail bars and hip foodie haunts, but in terms of food, Peckham has become a bit of a card shark – it keeps sneaking in a better hand. Here, I pick out my 10 favourite places to eat in Peckham…
The menu at Artusi – the cool, contemporary Italian restaurant on Bellenden Road that opened early 2014 – is refreshingly Spartan. Whatever’s good that day at Moxon’s fishmongers in East Dulwich, Flock & Herd butchers next door or Smithfield Market is chalked up on the board in as few words as possible. To start you might expect thin slices of raw sea trout drizzled with a very good extra virgin olive oil. For the main course, think spaghetti with anchovies, tossed in a garlic and butter sauce or leg of lamb with butter-tossed runner beans. The pasta is handmade on the premises, the servings are huge and the flavours are super punchy. The best restaurant in the area, for sure.
161 Bellenden Road, Peckham SE15 4DH; 020 3302 8200; artusi.co.uk
2 Peckham Bazaar
Peckham Bazaar takes inspiration from across the Balkans (and most of the ex-Ottoman states), which gives it a fair few cuisines to choose from – Romanian, Albanian, Serbian Greek… This allows plenty of scope for the daily changing menu, which includes the likes of grilled squid with orzo pasta, grilled harissa marinated quail, courgette fritters and lamb, prune and pork adanas – mostly cooked over charcoal. Fay Maschler declared it one of the top 10 new restaurants in London in 2013.
119 Consort Road, Peckham SE15 3RU, peckhambazaar.com
Owner and chef Claire Fisher set up Ganapati after a trip to south India left an indelible impression. An array of flavours and textures served up on a banana leaf and communal eating are just two of the experiential elements that Claire wanted to share with south Londoners. The huge masala dosas are a must (lentil pancakes stuffed with spiced mashed potato), as is the vegetarian banana leaf thali, which comes with various curries, pickles and accompaniments. The restaurant opened in 2004 and is still going strong.
38 Holly Grove, Peckham SE15 5DF; 020 7277 2928; ganapatirestaurant.com
The newest kid on the awesome-places-to-eat block is Pedler, which serves up everything from breakfast and brunch to afternoon tea, Sunday roasts and cool cocktails. You might as well just move in. I can highly recommend the Pedler Breakfast, which comes with a gin sausage (a genius addition that probably has a lot to do with the fact that the guy behind Pedler also set up Little Bird Gin), Valley Smoke House Bacon, poached eggs, bone marrow, tomato, mushroom, rosti, house-made baked beans and a huge wedge of toast with maple salted butter.
58 Peckham Rye SE15 4JR; 020 3030 5015; pedlerpeckhamrye.com
5 The Begging Bowl
The Begging Bowl, heralded as ‘Thai street-food heaven in south east London’ by The Independent, is one of those excellent places where you get to order loads of little things and share them with your mates. The dishes are colour-coded in price, so you can keep your spends in check, and you get to choose form the likes of charcoal-grilled salt-crusted sea bream stuffed with pandanas, stir-fried shiitake mushrooms with deep-fried tofu, green beans and coconut cream and mussaman curry with duck legs, peanuts and quince. Eep! Oh and you get limitless rice for £2 per head. Carb up!
168 Bellenden Road, Peckham SE15 4BW; 020 7635 2627; thebeggingbowl.co.uk
6 Peckham Refreshment Rooms
You could walk right be the Peckham Refreshment Rooms – the unassuming restaurant sits in a 1930s Art Deco block backing onto Peckham Rye train Station, shared with an African restaurant, two print shops, artist’s studio space and a hairdressers. The food is seasonal, regionally conscious European cuisine – ‘simple, well-priced, big-boned food’, as Jay Rayner called it (a complement, I assure you). Call in for breakfast (granola, yoghurt and honey), lunch (white bean stew, home-cured ham hock, salsa verde) or supper (duck confit, fagioli, garlic sausage).
12-16 Blenheim Grove, Peckham SE15 4QL; 020 7639 1106; peckhamrefreshment.com
7 The Clock House
The Clock House on Peckham Rye underwent quite a couple of years back and the resulting contemporary gastropub – belonging to the Young’s group – serves excellent food. Pair a half rack Hells hickory babyback ribs with apple ‘slaw, lamb breast croquettes or a kale, avocado and purple sprouting broccoli quinoa salad with something form the excellent wine list.
196a Peckham Rye, East Dulwich SE22 9QA; 020 8693 2901; clockhousepub.com
8 The Rye
The Rye pub has been serving the people of SE15 under many guises for years, but established itself as a must-visit after a huge refurb and extension in 2012. There’s the traditional pub side, a more contemporary, airy conservatory and a whopping beer garden. On Wednesday evenings you can get ribs and a beer for £12.50, Thursday is steak night with £10 off selected bottles of wine with any two steaks, and Sundays serve up five roasts from midday. On a run-of-the-mill weekday, you can chow down on the likes of Moroccan lamb koftas or a jerk chicken burger with avocado salsa.
31 Peckham Rye SE15 3NX; 020 7639 5397; theryepeckham.com
9 The Gowlett
The Gowlett is a self-proclaimed ‘backstreet boozer’ with somewhat of a cult following among locals. The wood-panelled boozer serves real ales and excellent stone-baked pizzas that Time Out heralded as the ‘best for miles around’ (so worshipped are these pizzas that they have recently gone on tour with the Crust Conductor, to find it follow @CrustConductor on Twitter). The Gowlett also has an in-house curing and smoking operation called Smoked in Peckham. Run from the cellar, it turns out quite an impressive platter of smoked meats and cheeses.
62 Gowlett Road, Peckham SE15 4HY; thegowlett.com
10 Franks Café
Frank’s Café is the hottest spot in town in summer, but we haven’t listed it at the bottom because we don’t like it, we just hate having to wait until June before we can hang out atop the country’s coolest multi-storey car park! Arrive late afternoon on a Saturday in a large group, commandeer a table and feast on the likes of smoked mackerel and horseradish pate on sourdough, buffalo chicken wings with blue cheese crème fraiche and smoked paprika and parmesan-roasted corn on the cob. Join the bar queue in pairs so you can have a natter and buy two rounds at once – the queue is usually huge.
10th floor, Peckham multi-storey car park, 95a Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4ST; frankscafe.org.uk
Words by Victoria Purcell