Peddling trendy food hits (and misses) in Peckham
Brunch at Pedler is decent value, and certainly more so than neighbouring contenders in East Dulwich. Posh avocado on sourdough is a fiver, while a full English is under £10. (The latter disconcertingly contains a gin sausage. I like both of these things very much, but remain unconvinced by their union).
If you have a thumping hangover, the staple dutchie pancake is likely to catch your eye. This Yorkshire pudding-esque batter bowl is as big as a human head, and contains a pool of molten gruyere with a tangle of leek or parma ham. Sounds incredible? I suppose it is, for the first few bites. But soon the degree of untold wrong ceases to be right, and the cloying fat-on-fat combo proves too much.
Things take a turn for the weird in the form of the resident ‘dumpkin’. Proudly paraded as a regular on the menu, this pumpkin donut sounds glorious (or, to use the local vernacular: awesome). Upon eating, it’s actually pretty minging; an aggressively spiced filling in desperate need of candification, imprisoned within the dense walls of a heavy, unyielding batter. I commend dodging the saccharin sweetness of your average donut, but this creation is crying out for balanced sweetness and a lighter hand.
Beers are, of course, of the craft variety, while wine plays second fiddle to cocktails (despite a reasonably-priced assortment available by the glass). House martinis and ‘Maltby Marys’ went down a treat, while my avocado margherita proved more divisive than Marmite. (To me, it was strangely moreish in its eye-searing sharpness. To my other half: ‘downright upsetting’).
Small groups are likely to find themselves sat atop fellow diners and shoe-horned into communal booths, but there are sweet spots to secure when booking ahead of time - bag a space for two on the long table opposite the ‘tropical' cove, and you’ll watch the action whizz by at a comfortable distance with your backs to the wall.
There’s plenty going for Pedler. Meat and fish are reassuringly sourced; the menu has you covered from noon til late; and the broader look and feel is ‘on message’ with the hipster takeover of Peckham Rye. (That’s if gentrification’s your bag of course, but there lies a debate for another day). It’s happily open to bookings - a seemingly quaint notion nowadays, but welcome given the regularity with which the restaurant becomes rammed. Hopefully it will continue to revel in the fanfare of its first year, albeit by addressing a few significant bum notes.