Peckham feels like a word you’ve been ignorant of your whole life, finally stumble across only to discover that it's actually - absolutely everywhere. No one mentioned Peckham in 2014. Then suddenly, as they closed the loop on the overground, it became the new Shoreditch and friends have started suggesting lunch dates there or Friday nights out in its bars.
Peckham is being touted as the next big thing, which of course is another way to say it is midway through a millennial invasion and is striking that perfect balance between authentic, slightly dilapidated, affordable and yet has good coffee shops, restaurants and a craft beer offering. Perfect timing for a visit we think.
Breakfast & Brunch
Kicking things off early, Peckham’s Rye Lane is an assault to the senses as meat and seafood vendors tumble out of their shops, dotted between high street chains and nail salons. At the other end of town the more subdued Bellenden Road residents fire up the coffee machines and open up the boutique gift shops and organic groceries. It’s a tale of two Peckhams and it’s making us hungry for that first meal of the day. A local Peckham spot since 2010, Anderson & Co is a great breakfast destination, acting as a cosy café with options from savoury delights of eggs benedict to sweet treats such as French toast and healthy choices like their vegan granola. If you’re partial to a lie-in the lunch menu is just as enticing and includes a few of the breakfast dishes too. We’re also fans of Peckham’s Blackbird Bakery which serves breakfast, brunch and lunch all day, spoiling us for choice between their blueberry pancakes or reuben sandwiches. One spot you’ll notice crops up a lot with this area is the Peckham Refreshment Rooms, which has become a cult weekend brunch spot, offering bountiful egg dishes, avocado toast and salt beef sandwiches served with sauerkraut, all washed down with flat whites, white port and tonic or Bloody Marys.
No one mentioned Peckham in 2014. Then suddenly, as they closed the loop on the overground, it became the new Shoreditch.
Perspolis would be a gem in any London area, a corner shop that’s better described as an Aladdin’s cave of cooking treasures, spices and an odd assortment of household good - and it also boasts its own small café. Think vegetarian meze, sharing dishes with vibrant and rich Mediterranean flavours. This isn’t some slick and modern spot, in fact it’s the very opposite and seems to embody both personalities of Peckham and we love it for this very fact. For those days when slick and modern, bright and fresh are in order, Peckham delivers with The Habitat, a modern British bistro that abides by the laws of fresh, simple and seasonal. Superfood salads, breaded fish and chorizo house beans on toast is the order of the day.
The Begging Bowl is another excellent option for a Thai lunch, named after the vessel used by Buddhist monks each morning for people to donate food. The short but bold and tasty menu includes vegan options such as a stir-fry of purple sprouting broccoli, fermented yellow bean, chilli and garlic while the carnivores among us are well catered for with Braised guinea fowl, pork hock or whole sea bass.
Occupying the empty levels of a multi-storey carpark, Peckham Levels is one of the more youthful expressions of culture to check out in the area. It exists to showcase the talent at work in Peckham and has managed to create affordable workspace for artists. Housing a few independent food and drink traders it’s not a bad shout for a street food lunch however the regular events and exhibitions, as well as the chance to discover some of South London's most exciting artists and small businesses working in design, fashion and music, are the real lure here.
A walk along Rye Lane is a completely different and much older expression of culture in Peckham. This is the home of the UK’s largest overseas Nigerian community and you’ll get a sense of that vibrant identity here alongside some ardent street preachers and plenty of family-run businesses. Just be prepared to see a lot of skinned chickens.
Aside is possibly our favourite spot in Peckham, tucked down Goldsmith Road this paired back and clean space is home to some brilliant chefs who marry the concept of fresh British produce with innovative cooking well. And it wasn’t just the food that delighted us, with a surprising wine list that starts fresh and descends into boldly-flavoured varietals and some cocktails worthy of Shoreditch.
So we warned you it would crop up again from our breakfast favourite, Peckham Refreshment Rooms, is back, this time with an evening menu worth the train ride down south for the second time. Well-executed classic flavour pairings with beautiful ingredients that shine through have us wishing this was our local. A very different meal can be had over at Mr Bao’s of whose buns Time Out described as the lightest and fluffiest in all of London. Order the bao buns (it’s why we’re here) and wash them down with their Taiwanese inspired cocktails using plum wine in a Negroni and twisting a Daiquiri with lychee.
Coming to Peckham from chef Patrick Williams (one of the team from the now-closed Paradise Garage) is Kudu which is inspired by South African cuisine. Familiar fresh dishes are given twists that will leave your taste buds begging for more, while the drinks stick to the classics but are well-done and balanced. Finally there’s Coal Rooms - the latest addition to Peckham's ever expanding dining scene which has found a home in the former Peckham Rye train station ticket office. With a bespoke charcoal grill this menu is heavy on the meat and fish and serves it to perfection with a list of sides to make you droll.
Pedler serve up delicious food during the day and into the night but it’s the cocktail menu at this charming Peckham spot that has us in raptures. The classics like a Martini or an effervescent French 75 are executed perfectly, so we know we’re always in safe hands if our palate strays off menu. The atmosphere in here is usually vibrant and the in-house creations are always worth a try.
Blake’s is another great local, hidden behind a bookcase at the top of the stairs of The Clock House. You’ll discover a range of craft beers, some locally brewed, and well-made classic cocktails such as Negronis and Espresso Martinis. What draws us back to Blake’s isn’t just the drinks but its bustling and intimate atmosphere.