Friday, 11th October 2013
I now live on the border (like actually right on the border) of Peckham and Camberwell, meaning I’m enjoying the best of both worlds. I am so lucky to live in this position, pretty much equidistant between all the restaurants and shops I love. So here’s an updated guide to my favourite places. I am aware of the omissions, some deliberate as I don’t rate them, but some because I haven’t been so please do let me know about your favourites.
I’m sad to say I’ve not found any decent jerk in Peckham in recent years; such a shame. You’ll just have to buy my jerk marinade and make your own *cheeky grin*.
Peckham: Restaurants and Cafes
1. Peckham Bazaar
Oh come on, it had to be number one, didn’t it? Peckham Bazaar (or P Baz as we call it in this house) is co-run by my boyfriend and my friend but honestly, it’s pan-Balkan heaven in deepest Peckham. Oh crikey that rhymes. Sod it. So yeah, I’m hugely biased, but it’s not just me who rates it; P Baz was Time Out’s No. 1 restaurant a few weeks back and the positive feedback in general has been overwhelming. The phone rings off the hook. The food just keeps getting better. It’s ridiculously good value. No-one else in London is doing this kind of food, this well. Just go.
Peckham Bazaar, 119 Consort Road, SE15 3RU (see website for opening times and weekly changing menu)
2. Indian Place off Rye Lane (it appears to be called just ‘Asian Takeaway’)
I’ve lived in Peckham for what, 8 years now? This place has apparently been open for 2 and I’d never noticed until recently. As I was waiting for my food on Saturday I helpfully suggested they get a sign, to which the owner responded by pointing at their sign.
They’re doing very simple, cheap and ace food from a little hut with a tandoor in the back. On the counter rest vast silver trays containing richly coloured curries, a couple of kofta ready to be cooked (chicken, lamb), rice, dhal, a yoghurt and coriander sauce. A gent stood in front of the tandoor, calmly knocking out naan after naan. We ate a lamb kofta which came in wrapped in that excellent fresh bread, with salad and sauce. The spicing is simple in the way that means every flavour is distinct. Oh and they also make a mean lamb samosa.
As I stood with my friend, shovelling down the kebab and mopping up the fall out, the owners kept ducking in and out with freshly cooked kebabs and bits to share with surrounding traders. We nicked a bit of the ‘special’ from the end of a long gleaming skewer; it’s that kind of place.
In charge of the tandoor
Indian takeaway, opposite Rye Lane station, just to the side of Ali Baba Fresh Vegetables (opposite Afro Foods). There’s a sign saying ‘Asian Takeaway’ on Rye Lane. It’s approx 133 Rye Lane, according to street view.
2. The Begging Bowl
Good Thai restaurants in London are few and far between so what are the chances we’d get one in Peckham eh? Eh? EH? Okay so the heat levels at TBB might not be ‘authentic’ but hell, the food is tasty and the dishes are interesting. The betel leaves in particular are spesh. Read Lizzie Mabbott’s review for an idea of what to expect.
The Begging Bowl, 168 Bellenden Rd, London, Peckham, London SE15 4BW
Vegetarian street snacks – my favourite starter at Ganapati
Ganapati is a South Indian vegetarian restaurant and definitely the most expensive place in Peckham, but it’s worth the money. The smell of curry leaves and mustard seeds whacks you around the chops as soon as you walk in. They often have curd rice on the menu which I adore; yoghurt is stirred through cooked rice and finished with a sizzling hot oil, mustard seeds and glistening curry leaves.
Ganapati, 38 Holly Grove, London SE15 5DF
I’m a regular at Anderson’s, particularly for their award winning sandwiches (surprise). They nail them simply because of the quality of the ingredients; farmhouse style ham pulled off the bone in chunks, well dressed salad leaves, Dijon, Brickhouse bakery bread (some of the best loaves in London, which they also sell to take away). Can’t argue with that. They also open some evenings and occasionally host pop ups with local cooks like Sally Butcher from Persepolis (see ‘shops’).
Anderson’s, 139 Bellenden Rd, London SE15 4DH
6. Il Giardino
Okay so the Italian food at this family owned restaurant isn’t going to win any awards, and it really isn’t the sort of place one would travel across London to visit, but for local people, it has other charms. Eating there is like eating in someone’s living room. The walls are crammed with trinkets, the toilets are to be found up the tiniest windiest wooden staircase; the whole place seems stuffed to bursting with memories and history and warm fuzzy feelings. Young boys who look about 10 get trained on the job while a proud family member listens in; just everything about it is so incredibly old school and charming. The pizzas won’t be giving Pizza Pilgrims, Franco Manca or Bravi Ragazzi a run for their money any time soon, but it’s more about the ‘experience’.
Il Giardino, 7 Blenheim Grove, London SE15 4QS
7. The Gowlett
This is a pub but I’ve put them in the restaurants section as they make an okay pizza. It’s not very nice as a pub. Sorry, die hard Gowlett fans.
The Gowlett, 62 Gowlett Rd, London, Greater London SE15 4HY
8. Peckham Refreshment Rooms
The new kid on the block. This place has been rammed since Rayner went but to be fair, was full from day one anyway. I tend to go for drinks rather than food but charcuterie and other simple dishes are available. The drinks selection is good: they’ve got Kernel beers, Foreign Extra Guinness and Breton cider. I haven’t had a chance to get down with the wine yet. I do have one major gripe with the place though and that is the seating; it’s unbelievably uncomfortable and needs to be changed asap.
Peckham Refreshment Rooms, Unit 4, 12-16 Blenheim Grove, London, Greater London SE15 4QL
One of the oldest pie and mash shops in London blah blah etc. etc. If pie, mash and liquor is your thing then you know where to go. You might not know WHEN to go however, as they have very odd opening times which clearly cater to a certain generation (hint: you’re not a member of it).
Manze’s, 105 Peckham High St, London, Greater London SE15 5RS
Peckham: Bars and Pubs
1. The Montpelier
I used to practically live in the Monty when I was further up that end of Rye Lane. When I moved I had to say goodbye but we had an intense and full on relationship while it lasted so I don’t mourn the loss too badly. What I like about the Monty is that it’s very laid back, they don’t cram too many seats inside and it just has a calm atmosphere. They show films in a room at the back and have live music occasionally. The beer isn’t even that good but they do at least have Mean Time and that stealthy bitch, Old Rosie cider. Apart from weekend lunch times it doesn’t get taken over by parents with young children, which is a miracle considering its proximity to East Dulwich.
The Montpelier, 43 Choumert Rd, SE15 4AR
2. Bar Story
Bar Story is pretty scrotty but nevertheless gets away with it, probably due to its location under the railway arches. Frequented by art students, they have a gallery in the back and the whole place has a an air of creativity about it. They also do cool pop ups like the recent Thai grill with Andy Oliver.
Bar Story, 213 Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QL
3. Frank’s Cafe and Campari Bar
The outrageously popular rooftop bar returns every year between the months of July-September. With reasonably priced cocktails, a kick ass view and a great atmosphere, it’s definitely worth climbing an ammonia scented stairwell for. Or you know, take the lift.
Frank’s Campari Bar, 10th Floor, Peckham Multi-Story Car Park, 95a Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
4. The Bussey Building
Man, have I had some nights in The Bussey. I shall say no more. See their website for details of upcoming events.
The Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
Peckham: Food Shops
Everyone’s favourite yellow corner shop. Go here for all your Persian ingredient needs. If you can’t find that unusual grain needed for the latest Ottolenghi recipe, don’t worry, Sally will almost certainly have it. The most important purchase you can make at Persepolis however, is obviously MY JERK MARINADE!
Persepolis, 28-30 Peckham High St, SE15 5DT
The awesome old Khan’s sign – ‘walk in and see the variety’ – sadly now replaced.
Everyone knows I have a lot of love for the ramshackle temple of random that is Khan’s Bargain Ltd. The veg is usually really cheap and fresh – I say usually because they do have the occasional off day. The beans, pulses and grains section is second to none, they stock the best flat breads EVER and you know where to go if you ever want a plastic animal. Read my full post about Khan’s here.
Khan’s Bargain Ltd, 135 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
3. General Store
General Store is a relatively new addition to Peckham, in the Bellenden area, which is known as the ‘posh bit’. This shop could not be more Bellenden if it tried; suitably expensive, but also full of high quality stuff including a small cheese selection and some more unusual veg – this is the place to go for your fractal-tastic romanesco cauli or samphire. Like I said, it’s the posh bit.
General Store, 174 Bellenden Road, SE15
4. Flock and Herd
We are stupendously lucky to have this butcher on Bellenden Rd. Opened by ex-ginger pig manager Charlie, it has gone from strength to strength and now queues out of the door are a familiar sight. Peckham Jerk Marinade may well be stocked there soon. W Bunting is also pretty good, right at the other end of Peckham.
Flock and Herd, 155 Bellenden Rd, SE15 4DH
5. Veg and Meat on Rye Lane and The High Street
If General Store is in ‘new Peckham’ then this place is very much ‘old Peckham’ or ‘proper Peckham’ as I like to call it; this is where the energy lies. Basically the deal with the greengrocers all along Rye Lane and the High Street is that they sell a lot of the same stuff, but you just need to single out your favourite. I will go to different shops for different vegetables. E.g. I always go to the place by the station for spinach and corn, as it’s usually freshest. I will go to Khan’s for herbs. And so on. United Meats is the only place I will buy goat in Peckham. All the other butchers aside from Flock and Herd = avoid. Fish is a total no-go I’m afraid, you’ll have to go to Moxon’s in East Dulwich which I rate over Soper’s in Nunhead.
United Meats, 62 Peckham High St, SE15 5DP
If it’s African ingredients like dried shrimp, fish and every single Maggi product under the sun that you want, then any of the shops will sort you out. The African land snails are available from a place about halfway up Rye Lane every year. No I haven’t yet tried them.
6. Wing Tai
This is the only local Asian supermarket now that the one in Camberwell has shut down (there’s a huge one at Elephant but it’s a bit of a trek down the Walworth Rd). This one isn’t the biggest in the world but boy, do they cram it all in there.
Wing Tai, Wing Tai Supermarket, Unit 11a The Aylesham Centre, Rye Lane, SE15 5EW
Camberwell: Restaurants and Cafes
1. Silk Road
Silk Road is simply one of the best Chinese (Xinjiang) restaurants in London, full stop. I have only met two people who didn’t like the food; everyone else loves it to the point of obsession. I’ve actually had to limit the amount of visits I make there for fear that the worst will happen and I’ll get too familiar. Best dishes: Cold seaweed salad thing; cumin lamb skewers; home style cabbage; home style aubergine; fried dumplings; twice cooked pork; smacked cucumber; their handmade noodles in anything. It’s virtually impossible to spend more than £15, including drinks.
Silk Road, 49 Camberwell Church St, SE5 8TR
2. Zeret Kitchen
This for me is the best Eritrean/Ethiopian restaurant in London. I went to Ethiopia earlier this year and I can tell you that this is absolutely the real deal. It is also run by the nicest lady. I crave injera like no-body’s business since I’ve come back and am currently working on a recipe that is practical. In the meantime, it’s plenty of scran at Zeret Kitchen for me. Read Chris Pople’s review of a meal we had here.
Zeret Kitchen, 216-218 Camberwell Rd, London SE5 0ED
3. F M Mangal
A Turkish grill restaurant that is never less than rammed. F M Mangal are famous for their spice smeared flat bread and pomegranate dip with comes with grilled onions and garlic cloves. Fairly recently I discovered the takeaway section at the front, which is where I am usually to be found ordering a tuvuk sis, a chicken kebab which comes with salad, chilli and garlic yoghurt sauce, all wrapped in a (crucially) thin wrap which makes eating it all too incredibly easy. Always order a double raki while you wait.
F M Mangal, 54 Camberwell Church St, London SE5 8QZ
4. Wuli Wuli
I hesitated to put Wuli Wuli in to be honest; what used to be a really good Sichuan restaurant just suddenly went downhill when they started toning down the amount of chilli and Sichuan peppercorns in the food. It all became a bit tame which was hugely annoying as I used to order from them once every few weeks. Still, it’s worth giving them a go. Also I should say I haven’t been for about a year. Make sure to order from menu B. I have a copy on-line here.
Wuli Wuli, 15 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR
5. Pasha Kyrgyz Kazakh Restaurant
I’d avoid the food in the main but Kazakh Kyrgyz is SUCH a fun place to have a drink just because it’s so ridiculous. There are mannequins in the corridor dressed in Turkish outfits, they have Turkish baths; the restaurant boasts a stream with a bridge over it and, well it’s just so silly it’s brilliant. Also, where else in Camberwell does one get a glass of Georgian wine?! Read my full post about it here.
Kazakh Kyrgyz, 158 Camberwell Rd,SE5 0EE
6. No. 67
I’ve had an utterly exquisite squid ink pasta dish here and I’ve had a god awful dessert. The best thing about No. 67 though is the space itself; all cosiness and twinkly lights and tables that you nestle into and never want to leave.
No. 67, 67 Peckham Rd, SE5 8UH
7. Viet Cafe (formerly Cafe Bay)
Okay so it’s not the most amazing banh mi in the world but come ON, we are in Camberwell, we are not overwhelmed with choices. I actually really enjoy the ‘chicken satay’ – novel in that it doesn’t taste like chicken satay. Review a on my sandwich blog here.
Cafe Viet, 75 Denmark Hill, SE5 8RS
No prizes for guessing what these guys sell. It’s so sparse inside you’d be forgiven for thinking it was one of those shops you used to buy weed from that would just have a fish tank in the corner and a man behind the counter or something. What? Someone told me that okay, mum? The falafel is actually rather decent and they will wang it into a wrap with really fresh salad, sumac dusted onions, a garlic sauce and a chilli sauce that actually has a bit of heat to it. Not a lot, but a bit.
Falafel, 27 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR
9. The Recreation Transformation
The Recreation pub (closed at the moment) is to be taken over by the people behind the Anchor and Hope, I believe. I’ve heard that the sous chef from the Canton Arms will be doing the cooking. It will take me all of 2 minutes to walk there. ME EXCITE.
1. The Crooked Well
This is more of a gastro pub really, but I prefer to just drink there if I’m totally honest. They do a decent martini, or at least they did the last time I had one which was fairly recently. Aside from that it’s just a really pleasant space to sink a few.
The Crooked Well, 16 Grove Lane, SE5 8SY
Camberwell’s craft beer pub. It has quite a wide range of beers which change frequently. They had my beloved Jaipur on recently which I still maintain is one of the greatest beers ever produced. It does suffer slightly from Craft Beer Pub-itis which I did a rant about here and the ladies toilets need some attention – HOW LONG CAN IT BE BEFORE YOU REPLACE THE LIGHT BULBS?? – but it’s still a pub I spend time in.
Stormbird, 25 Camberwell Church St, SE5 8TR
3. The Hermit’s Cave
This place looks like a bit of a shit hole which is why I like it. They have some decent beers on though – I’m told – I went right off ale a while ago, something to do with it being body temperature – like I say I just appreciate the way it’s so bedded in. A proper boozer. It’s got nothing on the Grosvenor in Stockwell but hey, not many pubs do.
Hermit’s Cave, 28 Camberwell Church St, SE5 8QU
4. The Bear
So many people rate this place highly that I’m putting it in despite not having had the chance to really spend any time there yet. I’ve heard they do a mean roast.
The Bear, 296A Camberwell New Rd, SE5 0RP
Camberwell: Food Shops
1. Turkish Food Centre
Despite being rather lacking in charm as a space, The TFC is great for buying cheeses like helim, feta, halloumi and the other ones I don’t know the name of, including those that come in a can. I am more than partial. Herb bunches are large and fresh and they sell the mild, pointed, waxy peppers I became fond of in Hungary. Obviously there are staples like pomegranate molasses, tahini, sumac etc. – ingredients you’d be hard pushed to find in Camberwell (nearest other shop for such delights = Persepolis).
Turkish Food Centre, 303-309 Camberwell New Road, SE5 0TF
Good for large, flat, sesame seeded loaves at under a quid. They also do a basic white loaf for under a quid although have let themselves down recently by under baking them often or baking them in the same oven as something containing cinnamon. That’s incredibly irritating.
Sophocles, 24 Camberwell Church St, SE5 8QU
Cruson winds me up in so many ways but it has to be said there is nowhere else in Camberwell to buy a globe artichoke or patty pan squash. The problem with them having so much variety is that a lot of it is always going off. Perhaps that’s why they charge nearly twice as much for a jar of Hellman’s as anyone else has ever done in any shop in the world, ever.
Cruson, 26 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8QU
You’ll notice that there are omissions from both these sections and I’d like to hear your thoughts. I’m afraid Angels and Gypsies isn’t there as I think it’s too expensive. I once spent £20 on a 3 tiny tacos. Some places I’ve not included however as I haven’t been, which is where you come in. Any thoughts on…
Cafe Viva? (never been able to get in there due to buggies)
Other pubs in Camberwell?
The African restaurant on Choumert Rd? (I once tried to eat there but they wouldn’t let me in and I still don’t understand why)
Lovely House on Bellenden?
Need we mention either the Peckham or Camberwell farmers’ markets? Oh dear. Will someone put some life into these please?!