Your eyes do not deceive you. You did just see the words ‘Peckham’ and ‘tapas’ next to each other. The Rye pub has reopened in SE15 and with it comes a menu boasting the above. Peckham. Tapas. Let’s take a moment to unpack that, shall we?
So you know that Spanish thing, tapas? That thing the Spanish bars do where they serve small snacks to nibble on while you have a drink, in Spain? Yeah well let’s take that concept, but make it all Peckham, like. A plantain here, a jerked chicken there, a scotch bonnet bleedin’ everywhere.
The idea of using locally available ingredients with the aim of creating a menu that really represents for Peckham (innit blud *finger whip*) is a nice one. The intentions behind the er, concept (wince) were probably good, which makes it all the more tragic that the food itself is beyond shit.
Bad things happened before the food even arrived, actually, like when the waitress brought condiments to our table – ketchup, mustard and – CURVEBALL – a shot glass of mayonnaise. Okay fine, serve your mayo any way you like but do not serve a shot glass of mayo which is sporting a crust. The thing had clearly been dutifully presented at many tables that day and probably many tables a couple of days previously; truly rank. It looked like bog standard shop bought mayo so I’ve no idea why it got this special shot glass treatment while the ketchup etc. did not. Here’s a tip though guys: bottles keep stuff fresh.
So from the tapas menu (shudder) we order onion bhajis with, wait for it…date and plantain relish. We also order salt fish fritters with, wait for it…smoked garlic aioli.
So, onion bhajis, those famous Indian snacks and plantains those er, plantains. Interesting. I’m thinking, this sounds like a right car crash but let’s hold back on the judgement until I’ve tasted them. Benefit of the doubt and all that. I’ll tell you how that worked out in a moment. First, you must look at them. I demand it. Go on, have a good look…
Look like they’ve been varnished, no? That’s one thick mother funking mahogany skin on those bhajis, let me tell you. It had the texture of fruit leather. I think they may have been deep fried at some point, that point being several days before they were reheated and served. We decided to push on with having a taste, my companion and I, despite their alarming appearance giving rise to a nagging expectation that a tiny alien may burst out of each one at any moment. We rip through the skin to find that, despite having the appearance of things which have seen the fires of Hades, they’re not cooked in the middle. Wicked. Let’s try the plantain chutney then…a whack of vinegar first, then a piece of plantain. That isn’t cooked either. Ace.
Moving on. The salt fish fritters come with smoked garlic aioli, or, more accurately, shop bought mayo with some smoked garlic mixed into it. That’s not aioli and also, why? Salt fish and mayonnaise is a horrible combination, but it does have the advantage of distracting us somewhat from the bizarre, gluey texture of the fritters. Jamaican style salt fish fritters with French aioli. A pile of rocket on the side. There’s a reason no-one else is doing this.
Our ‘jerk chicken burger with avocado salsa’ does not come from the Peckham tapas menu but instead ‘from the stove’ which is of course where all good jerk comes from. What do you mean nothing has come from the stove since 1901? You cynical old sod, you.
Now at this point I move from finding the meal hilarious to feeling deeply sad and mentally scarred. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m rather a fan of jerk. This wasn’t jerk. This was a piece of chicken rubbed with ready made jerk seasoning (and not much of it), cooked until perfectly dry and shoved in a bun with the saddest blob of salsa ever dolloped with no care or attention. Behold the most tragic food photo ever taken…
I take no responsibility for your mental health post viewing. In fact I’m sorry for inflicting this upon you at all but you must understand that I need to get some closure.
This menu should be used as an example every time someone wants to know the definition of ‘style over substance’. Everything comes on wooden boards, by the way. Plates would be too straightforward and anyway, they clash with the shot glasses. I’m going to stop now. I’m going to stop because I’m having flash backs but mostly because I want to go and get a beer from the fridge. This has been remarkably cathartic but now all I’m left with is the memory of last summer, when The Rye was serving Meatwagon burgers, buffalo wings and pigs cooked in a pit in the back garden. Two minutes walk from my house. Gutted.
I should add that The Rye did apologise and they invited me back for drinks ‘on the house’. They also say they are working on improving the food.
31 Peckham Rye