Four Hundred Rabbits Nunhead
143 Evelina Road, London, SE15 3HB
No trendy London neighbourhood is complete anymore without an upmarket pizza place: thanks to its proximity to trendy Peckham, under-the-radar Nunhead has this one on its steadily gentrifying high street. A carbon copy of the successful formula launched in nearby Crystal Palace, Four Hundred Rabbits mixes cheerful colours and bold, arty design with a simple menu of wood-fired sourdough pizzas, craft beers and artisan ice cream. The pizzas are great, their bases topped with lashings of tangy tomato sauce and quality ingredients, from goats’ cheese with piquillo peppers and rocket to enticing specials (tacked up on the pegboard walls) featuring pig cheeks, rhubarb and more. Service is eager, while the cocktail list includes barrel-aged Negronis and pre-bottled, locally produced ‘seltzers’. The customers dotted around the restaurant’s counters, high tables and tiny alfresco area are a good cross section of Nunhead – always a sign of a strong all-rounder.
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Bành Bành Peckham
£30 - £49
46 Peckham Rye, London, SE15 4JR
Peckham Rye’s unstoppable rise to foodie prominence continues with the addition of this stylish Vietnamese canteen. Bánh Bánh’s Tardis-like dining room is a mix of bare bricks and exposed bulbs up front, with a wood-and-marble counter, sculpted stools, and potted plants; further back is a more make-do-and-mend affair, with petrol-blue or plywood-covered walls. The A4 menu offers ‘smallish’, ‘biggish’ and ‘classic’ dishes – so order starters and mains, or share everything as a family-style feast. A delicately dressed, fresh-flavoured bun noodle salad topped with pork sausages and tofu-stuffed spring rolls demonstrates the subtlety of Vietnamese cuisine; ditto the house ‘pancakes’ (prawn-topped Asian-style tortillas, for wrapping in perilla, mint and lettuce leaves). The best dish was the punchiest: juicy, lemongrass-marinated beef patties cooked in crinkly betel leaves. To drink, eager staff will serve you ice-cold coconut water, eastern-tinged cocktails, or something from the short beer list, which twins Peckham with, er, Saigon.
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Near & Far
Level 6, Peckham Levels, 95A Rye Lane, London, SE15 4ST
Buzzing from the day in December 2017 that it launched in Peckham’s old multi-storey car park, this criminally cool cocktail bar and social is the latest venture from the brains behind Old Street party space, The Magic Roundabout. The look resembles a B-movie recreation of a 1950s Palm Springs tiki lounge, courtesy of tropical foliage-print wallpaper, pre-loved furniture, a sprinkle of kitsch and a central island bar lit in iris-blue and fuchsia-pink hues. To a soundtrack of banging Studio 54 disco, Afro funk, rare groove and holiday house, punters tuck in to celebratory fizz, everyday wines and laddish brews. But it’s cocktails that create the stir: try the pisco and cachaça Sours, though don’t forget Emergency Brexit (an orange-infused gin, cucumber and thyme Negroni manqué). Hungry? If Near & Far’s olives, almonds and popcorn don’t satisfy, explore the adjacent stalls and kitchens that punt decent street food from, ahem, near and far.
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£30 - £49
119 Queens Road, London, SE15 2EZ
It would be easy to carb-swerve the Kudu bread at this cosy South African restaurant in up-and-coming Queen’s Road – but that would be a mistake. Served with seafood butter and warm from the oven, it’s dark and crisp on top, fluffy and light within, yeasty with just a hint of cumin seed: heaven in a cast-iron pot. Other hits from the snacks section include fried artichokes with miso mayonnaise, and a lusciously smooth chicken liver parfait.
Small plates of a flaky yet unctuous onion and beer tarte Tatin and super-savoury pig’s head tortellini were quickly polished off, while the braai lamb neck with smoked yogurt and Brussels tops was a gorgeous pile of tender pulled meat, perfectly paired with mineral-rich, barely-blanched buttery leaves. There’s a decent wine list with plenty of South African options to try, and a classic list of cocktails, while the restaurant itself is airy yet cosy, and very elegantly lit. Sophistication – and very good food – have arrived at Queen’s Road Peckham.
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Made of Dough
182 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 4BW
Wood-fire sourdough pizza is certainly having its moment. And it’s a particularly memorable one at the permanent home of Brixton pop-up/street food joint Made of Dough, on Peckham’s foodie hub, Bellenden Road. Toppings cover the classics (margherita with San Marzano tomato, fior di latte mozzarella and fresh basil) and more unusual options such as a subtly smoky white pizza of chargrilled artichoke, mozzarella, rosemary and lemon. Sides are excellent, too, including a carpaccio di zucchini with red chilli that’s a perfect summer freshener. To drink, choose from a finely honed cocktail list, fizz, wine (mainly from Spain and Italy) or local craft ales. The decor is clean and pared back and the music is worth making a detour for. Fret not over the lack of a dessert-menu proper: order one of their knock-out gelato shakes – Motherf**king peanut butter and vanilla, with or without a shot of Kahlua (obvs always with), say – and satisfaction is guaranteed.
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119 Consort Road, London, SE15 3RU
Following its 2014 refit, Peckham Bazaar has transformed from a bish-bash-bosh outfit serving eye-opening Ottoman-inspired food into a serious neighbourhood restaurant. The cooking now takes place within the spruced-up dining room, where orange-tinged wood panels and pistachio-green walls channel 80s Greek package holidays. Flavour-wise, nothing has been lost – the grill’s smoky flavours still work their magic on an assortment of no-frills rustic dishes at “very reasonable prices”. Seafood is a top call, with Balkan-inspired specialities such as dukkah-spiced mackerel on dill-flecked rice or morsels of octopus with colourful dabs of homemade taramasalata drawing appreciative gasps. Enjoy them with a Greek wine from the fascinating list. Service can be so laid-back that you may end up stage-managing your meal, but the charming staff are instantly forgiven. Anyway, when you’re sat on the fairy-lit terrace on a summer evening, this lazy pace simply adds to the holiday feel. All in all, “a perfect local spot”.
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Prince of Peckham
1 Clayton Road, London, SE15 5JA
If you’re a fan of all things jerk, then make a date with Prince of Peckham, a corner pub on this once inhospitable stretch of Queens Road, which is now starting to feel the reach of Peckham proper’s hip makeover. Once a dingy old man’s boozer, The Prince is now serving up a regal selection of jerk burgers and wings – plus all the sides. The jerk chicken bun with jerk sauce and fries is succulent and served in generous portions, wings come in various flavours including seriously spicy buffalo, while buttermilk and Red Stripe fried chicken is a nice Jamaican touch. Beers and wines are perfectly good, but the drinks crown goes to a fittingly rum-based selection of cocktails, such as The Prince, a heady mix of Bacardi Carta Negra and Wray & Nephew Overproof rum, with tropical juices. The mismatched decor features huge leather sofas, exposed brick walls, huge glittering chandeliers and cool music vibes as standard, while service is casual and friendly.
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The Begging Bowl
£30 - £49
168 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 4BW
No one can accuse this “hip” Thai canteen of resting on its laurels: in 2016, the owners repurposed the terrace as an airy all-weather space, did away with the colour-coded prices on its menu, and developed a cute children’s offering. Other than that, it’s business as usual at The Begging Bowl. A constantly changing line-up of “amazing Thai tapas” still features exhilarating flavour combos shot through with full-throttle herbs and spices: try the “piquant” little fishcakes, “sticky, umami-rich” pork belly, caramelised tiger prawns in lime leaves (“so good we ordered them twice”) or the show-stopping whole sea bass, lavishly sprinkled with slivers of green mango, deep-fried chilli, Thai shallots and toasted rice. To drink, delicious eastern-inspired cocktails complement the spice-friendly wine list. And each night, dozens of would-be diners still vie for tables in the colourful, driftwood-decorated dining room – thankfully the friendly staff are experts at waiting-list diplomacy.
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£30 - £49
58 Peckham Rye, London, SE15 4JR
This polished newcomer sits incongruously on Peckham Rye, a scruffy thoroughfare where dining options have hitherto run to branches of Chicken Cottage. Vintage mismatched crockery and cut-glass tumblers define Pedler’s look, along with bare brickwork, wooden flooring and flights of fancy such as pineapple-patterned fabrics covering the bar stools. The seasonal, modern British menu changes almost completely every day, save for a signature dish of ‘frizzle chicken’ – the crunchiest of chicken nuggets served with an assertively spiced ‘attitude’ sauce. Other hits include juicy, charred lamb chops (from local butcher Flock & Herd) with saffron-flecked potatoes, and rich desserts such as sticky ginger cake with local vanilla ice cream: south London on a plate. Most seating is cramped, but the welcome is warm, the staff enthusiastic, and the atmosphere buzzing from breakfast until the witching hour. To drink, well-balanced cocktails made with Little Bird gin are the way to go.
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£30 - £49
161 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 4DH
Blink and you’ll miss this narrow strip of a restaurant with its matt-black frontage, the name painted in tiny white type. Inside, pared-back, minimal surroundings allow the no-fuss Italian food to do the talking. The kitchen takes the best of the day’s produce and crafts a menu of bold simplicity, offering just three starters, three mains, and a couple of pasta dishes of either size. The list provides the perfect antidote to those tired trattorie with their dozens of ‘specials’. Because the chef uses cheaper cuts (lamb shoulder or ox heart on our visit), and concentrates on pulses and seasonal veg, prices are kept spot-on for a neighbourhood joint – though many would cross the capital for gutsy cooking of such quality. The ice cream alone is worth a detour. The all-Italian wine list needs better descriptions, though the friendly staff will make suggestions.
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293 Rye Lane, London, SE15 4UA
The second venture from the Peckham-based couple behind Miss Tapas, Mr Bao heads east to find inspiration for its small plates, Taiwanese-style. This light, calm, convivial space has pastel-coloured maps of Taiwan, framed Taiwanese stamps, and contemporary prints dotting its patchily whitewashed walls. A beautiful blue-and-white tiled counter separates the dining room from the open kitchen. Our favourite of the fluffy steamed buns is the ‘bao diddley’, with tender pulled chicken, a slick of subtle but insistent wasabi mayo and a dollop of kimchi; other must-try dishes include the Taiwanese sausage (a spiced pork sausage made by local butcher’s Flock & Herd to the chef’s secret recipe) and the rich, sticky dessert bao – fried, drenched in chocolate, and topped with a toasted marshmallow. An inventive brunch menu incorporating ‘bao benedict’ and saké-based cocktails is a brilliant hangover salve for locals (mainly hip singles) – as is the wonderfully warm service.
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