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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£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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£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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