TASTY FOOD & COVID-SAFE: HERE ARE THREE OF PECKHAM'S BEST RESTAURANTS

It’s been a mad few months and I, along with the rest of the world, am pretty OVER IT.

 

Lockdown has been tough and one thing I couldn’t wait to do once restrictions lifted was eat out. I mean these weary paws needed a break from doing all the cooking at home – a sly dig at my boyf who’ll never read this anyway.

 

Now, I wasn’t expecting everything to be *normal* once cafes and restaurants reopened but I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of my top Peckham spots were going above and beyond to ensure they were following government guidelines, all this while keeping it all as enjoyable as possible.

 

There were three places that stood out in particular for their strict COVID-safe measures and amazing family feel: Kudu, Peckham Cellars and Coal Rooms. And something that came up with each of these three restaurants was how thankful they were for the furlough scheme, as this meant they didn’t have to lose their staff – a small triumph during the worst, worst time.

So, if you're yet to visit these restaurants and aren't sure if this is the best time then read on and think again. They're even safer, slicker and more on it than ever. The only questions is: which five people will you be inviting for your sexy bubble booking?

A brief history

 

First up, we have the super-modern, ultra-chic Kudu. Opening in November 2017, husband and wife duo, Patrick and Amy Williams, founded Kudu after spending far too many years on opposite schedules to each other. "Amy was in the world of design and I was a chef, so we barely saw each other. We weren’t happy in our careers and we thought: let’s give this a go and do our own thing," says Patrick. And that’s exactly what they did.

 

 

The gaff

 

Dark, cosy interiors play host to the couples’ vision to modernise, simplify and sex-up classic South African cuisine, and the menu is constantly changing. You’ll always find some of their staple dishes on the menu, like the Kudu bread (Patrick’s grandma’s recipe), while new dishes come and go with the seasons. That’s probably my favourite thing about this spot: you never know exactly what you’ll be getting but you KNOW it’s gonna be 10/10.

Patrick’s favourite dish?

 

"The lamb neck with tenderstem broccoli. This was on the original menu and it pops back up every now and again. It’s so nostalgic, it reminds me how stressed I was when creating it. But for me, it's all about dessert – it’s one of my weaknesses and that's why I’m always fixated with making an amazing dessert. We want people to come in for the dessert just as they do with the side dishes; for us, it's important to keep it consistent throughout."

 

 

So, why go post-lockdown?

There’s a real family feel here and that’s thanks to the small team and friendly service. The menu is always changing but the fresh, seasonal plates mean it’s always exciting and no two experiences are ever the same. If you plan to book a table, be prepared to have your temperature taken and you'll have to anti-bac your hands before you’re seated. Also, the staff are kitted out with visors, masks and gloves. Safety first, hunnys.

Patrick’s top Peckham picks

Peckham Bazaar

Mr Bao

Artusi

Bar Story and Smokey Kudu for drinks

 

Patrick’s top London picks

The Dairy – where Patrick started his career

Padella

Koya Bar for udon noodles

Lyle’s when he wants to impress 

Bar Termini for drinks

Book a table here and check out their Instagram here.

A brief history

 

Much like their few-doors-down neighbours at Kudu, the owners of Peckham Cellars founded their resraurant after mutual feelings of wanting to break free from their jobs in hospitality. Drunken conversations about their dreams to open up their own place became a reality in 2019 when the trio – made up of Ben McVeigh-Witaker, Helen Hall and Luke West-Whiley – did just that on Queen’s Road. School friends Ben and Helen shared a love for food, as did Helen and boyfriend Luke, who met while working at Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch.  “We all hated our jobs and we really want to open a restaurant. It’s crazy because we have a wine person, a front of house person and a chef, so we thought why don’t we actually just do this? And we did,” says Luke.

 

 

The gaff

 

The team’s vision was simple. Luke says: “It’s here in Peckham because at the time we didn’t feel there was anywhere around here where we could go to drink good wine in a cool environment and that wasn't too stuffy.” That’s definitely the feeling you get walking into Peckham Cellars because it is so inviting, so much so that it feels like you’re part of the family there (I'm a part of it, okay?!). Beginning as a restaurant that served great wine, the three founders now see it more as a wine bar that does food. Expect small sharing plates that are packed full of flavour and plentyyy of fantastic wines.

Their favourite dishes?

 

Ben’s is the brioche and black pudding, while Helen dies at the thought of the whipped marmite butter (I cannot wait to try this myself) and Luke only has eyes for the chicken broth: “There’s an outrageous amount of flavour in that. It’s so good!”

 

But what about the bloody wine?

 

Helen: Oochota Barrels pinot noir: an Australian drop, which she says has to be eaten with the chicken sando.

Ben: La Volcanique from France  the very bottle that him and Luke bonded over and must be enjoyed with a pork ribeye and salsa verde.

Luke: Palmentino, Italy. This one has to be with a burrata for a fresh and light evening snack.

 

 

So, why go post-lockdown?

 

Well, for starters the anti-bac is literally at your fingertips, and, as well as wearing visors, the team deep clean the whole place every night. The best thing is they always have someone hosting and have a contact-free booking system to get you seated quickly, so no messing about. And in terms of the wine, it’s definitely a must for me, with so many different bottles arriving every week and loads of natural options for all ya Natural Wine Gang ouchea.

Peckham Cellars’ top Peckham spots?

Peckham Bazaar. “John is a legend and the food is incredible. It’s one of the best restaurants.”

Taco Queen. “We love them and their food.”

Forza Wine

Beer Rebellion for a drink. "They have such a great team."

 

Peckham Cellars’ top spots in London?

"Still Peckham Bazaar," they all say.

Luke: “The best meal I had last year was Scully.”

Helen: “It has to be Bright.”

Ben: “Luca. There’s a room with a nonna just making pasta! Plus, the dining room is insane and so is the wine list.”

Order wine here and check out their Instagram here.

A brief history

 

Found in the old ticket office of Peckham Rye station, Coal Rooms has earned its rep as one of the tastiest places to eat thanks to its Sunday roasts. The idea behind the restaurant started as a smoked food and open grill space, hence the name: Coal Rooms. Now, so much more than that, the once meat-heavy spot has taken on a more refined feel with a new and very much INSANE tasting menu.

 

 

The gaff

 

One half takeaway coffee shop, the other half a restaurant, this place does it all and so bloody well too. Not only do the cocktails and food absolutely bang, but the team are like a close family and they always remember you when you come in – something that’s so rare in such a busy city. Kezia Argue, the General Manager, feels there’s a new feel at Coal Rooms and that’s down to the new tasting menu. “It’s the best thing to come out of lockdown and it’s all thanks to our Head Chef, Adrian. It means we’ve reduced food wastage and the courses are proper refreshers – so different to the Sunday lunches.”

Their favourite dishes?

Not only has the tasting menu been a big hit, but so has its sister place Fat Boy BBQ, found upstairs of Tola. And while restaurant manager Lucy Schofield loves the tasting menu, she can’t get enough of the Fat Boy potatoes, “thin layered potatoes with cheese..imagine.”

For Kezia though, it has to be the monkfish from the tasting menu.

So, why go post-lockdown?

 

Well, there’s no doubt they’ve gone above and beyond to ensure your safety comes first. Firstly, they’ve taken out half the tables/covers and remove the café so it’s now just a takeaway kiosk style. Track and trace is key and only staff and diners are allowed in PERIOD. They’ve also staggered booking times, meaning less contact and crossover with customers. But seriously, the food and the team here are really something else. The girls even welled up thinking about when the team was first reunited after lockdown – like come on! FAMILY!

Their top Peckham spots?

Lucy: Smokey Kudu, especially their bubble cocktail. And Artusi for dinner.

Kezia: Has to be Kudu for dinner and Smokey Kudu for drinks. Forza Wine, Mr Bao and also Bang Bang Burgers.

 

 

Their top London spots?

 

Lucy: St John. The Anchor & Hope for something hearty and buttery. Satan’s Whiskers in Bethnal Green – an amazing cocktail bar.

Kezia: Hawksmoor. Lobos tapas. El Camion and the crazy tequila bar downstairs of it called Pink Chihuahua.

Book a table here and check out their Instagram here.

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©2018 SUZIE BAKOS.