Pedler Brings Well-Priced Excellence To Peckham
Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
Pedler opened up just before Christmas in the increasingly foodie enclave of Peckham Rye — not far from Italian restaurant Artusi, the Thai flavours of The Begging Bowl or the Balkan influences of Peckham Bazaar. And it could be the best of the bunch.
It has taken over the spot that occupied African restaurant Delta Tavern on the Rye, and is run by Tim Moore and Taskin Muzaffer — both Peckham residents and also the folk behind the small-batch gin Little Bird. The spirit’s point of difference is that it’s made with orange and ginger, along with more conventional gin botanicals; a similar refusal to stick to the norm is seen on Pedler’s menu. In fact, a commitment to local-sourcing is the only thing which pulls together dishes with influences from Britain, Italy and the Med, as well the Caribbean, Asia and beyond.
Tight tables, grandma-style vintage crockery, assorted hanging bulbs and mismatched wallpaper contributes to a look that’s homely, fun and cool — but not too cool. Its website hails a team that ‘live in and love Peckham’. We didn’t quiz those serving us on their local knowledge, but an enthusiasm for what they were doing was almost tasty enough to make it onto the menu.
As we tuck into one of our mains — grilled lamb chops sourced from Kent via excellent Peckham butcher Flock & Herd — we can see clearly the influence of the main man behind said menu. Gareth Crosby did time at Rules in Covent Garden — one of London’s oldest restaurants — before working with more of-the-moment food pop-up Licky Chops. For those who don’t know them, they’re the BBQ-led outpost of burger stars Lucky Chip, and were in residence at Broadway Market’s Cat & Mutton pub until last summer. Back then we devoured a greedy-sized bucket of tender, beautifully crisp-fatted mutton chops which were among the best we’ve ever tried — until now. At Pedler the lamb versions are just as juicy, richly flavoured and succulently fatty, served with enjoyably al dente potatoes which have been cooked in saffron to leave an alluringly subtle flavour and sunny yellow tint. The chops cost £12 for a pair, and are the most expensive thing on the menu.
The food here is roughly divided between bar snacks, starters and mains (at least in terms of price and size), but all the dishes are served at the table for sharing, as and when they’re ready — tapas style, if you will.
First up for us is a stripy paper bag filled with homemade pork scratchings that the menu rather cutely calls lard-y-dahs (£2). They’re still slightly warm and skilfully tread that fine line between being too soft or too dry and crisp: cracking crackling. Another snack, a pickled oyster (£1.50), is exactly as it sounds: a vinegar-laced fresh oyster in its shell, along with some refreshing strips of pickled cucumber — a sharp, short-lived burst of saline goodness.
Smoked beef brisket croquettes (£8) are seriously crisped-up, but offer a silky smooth, oozy pâté-like centre. Mushroom arancini (£5) are a meatless counterpart — once again they are satisfyingly firm to the bite but gooey within, benefiting from the earthiness of wild mushrooms and a bright-flavoured rosemary mayo.
Frizzle chicken (£10) sounds more like a chart-topping rapper than a dish, and comes with ridiculously named ‘attitude sauce’ — but let it off. It’s actually a clever take on the fried chicken which Peckham was known for long before restaurants like this were around. Large pieces of chicken are coated in the tangy, slightly spicy sauce — which does indeed have some attitude — and served on slabs of griddled polenta, dusted in parmesan. The combination of flavours and textures is a winning one, while the moistness of the chicken shines through — those lamb chops were no fluke, Pedler knows how to cook its meat.
We were too full to partake in puds on this occasion, but given Pedlar is open seven days a week, serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, plus Sunday roasts, we’ll certainly be back to rectify that soon.
As for the drinks, Little Bird Gin unsurprisingly plays a lead role on the cocktail menu — a Negroni topped up with Prosecco (£7) is a refreshing opener, while martinis, G&Ts and a Bloody Mary made with gin are also good bets. Beers also get decent representation, while the wine list offers plenty of good-value options from £18 a bottle.
Few restaurants can compete with such well-priced neighbourhood excellence — Pedler has pushed Peckham’s dining scene up another gear.
Pedler is at 58 Peckham Rye, SE15 4JR.
Last Updated 19 January 2015