Victoria Purcell heads for brunch menu at Coal Rooms and ends up on a whistle-stop tour of Peckham’s coolest new hangouts
Always head for brunch with a like-minded friend; one who essentially approaches any menu like tapas – ‘So, we just order loads of things and share them, right?’
The Coal Rooms – Peckham’s latest cooler-than-cool hangout (not like Bussey-Building-rooftop-rave cool, more like good-coffee-and-cocktails cool) – has a Saturday brunch menu that allows you to do just that.
As good as that full English sounded, with smoked goat sausages, back and streaky bacon, bone marrow butter mushrooms et al (and looked, when it arrived at the table next to us), we ordered small plates of pastrami salmon with smoked cream cheese, bread and butter pickles and rye bread (£8), smoked goat belly and neck with cannellini beans on toast (£8), hash brown with kimchi and kimchi mayonnaise (£7) and mushrooms with smoked bone marrow butter and a fried duck egg on toast (£7) to share.
It was a veritable sharing feast. The kimchi hash browns, probably my favourite dish (though technically a side), was fiery and fabulous; the mushrooms were buttery, rich and enveloped in runny yolk; the smoked goat belly was ugly but full of flavour; and the pickles, pastrami and cream cheese worked together to create a gravlax-style salmon that’s simultaneously fresh, smokey, creamy and sour. Sure, none of the dishes worked together, but that’s not the point, each was simple but expertly executed and really very good.
In an ideal world, where our metabolisms performed as they did when we were 21, we’d have ordered all six of the brunch dishes, adding the bubble and squeak and the corn tacos to our already crowded table. But there’s always next time.
There are brunch cocktails, too. Try a Bloody Caesar (essentially a Bloody Mary with clam juice, they are an acquired taste, but good. Canadian’s love them) or a Seasonal Bellini. My friend and I, being discerning brunchers with an agenda (to hit as many of Peckham’s new spots as we could in an afternoon), went straight in for the espresso martinis. And a very good espresso martini it was; syrupy and frothy with plenty of punch. So good, in fact, that we each ordered a second for ‘dessert’.
Bookending our brunch with caffeinated cocktails had the desired effect of propelling us straight from our new favourite haunt into Holdrons Arcade
The venue itself – the second by Richard Robinson and Cemal Ezel, the duo behind Old Spike Roastery – is an oasis of cool, considered calm in a rather frenetic part of Peckham. To the front is a cafe where you can grab a coffee before hopping on a train or linger over a latter. The restaurant, to the rear, is a crisp, clean, minimalist space with off-white walls, sage green banquets and huge windows, reached via the open kitchen in the middle of the building – a dark, atmospheric space with counter-style seating so that you can watch the chefs at work as you dine.
There’s also a Grade II listed private dining room, and very cool Grade II-listed loos with a mosaic-tiled floor that you’ll certainly want to Instagram. The Coal Rooms even has an on-site butchery so that the team can butcher the meat themselves, using every bit of the animal so that nothing goes to waste. Impressive, no?
Bookending our brunch with caffeinated cocktails had the desired effect of propelling us straight from our new favourite haunt into Holdrons Arcade, just over the road on Rye Lane, where we dipped a toe back into the 90s at Wavey Garms and came away with a Fred Perry t-shirt and a pillar-box red K-Way cagoule. And after a mooch about the recently opened Peckham Levels (fabulously colourful staircase; long wait at the bar) and glass of wine for the road at John the Unicorn, we were reassured in the knowledge that we’d hit enough of Peckham’s latest and greatest spots to be down with the cool kids.
Or, at the very least, rather decadently day-drunk.
Saturday Brunch is available from 10am-3pm.
11a Station Way, Peckham Rye Station SE15 4RX; coalroomspeckham.com