Is this the best wine in the world?

Scroll to the bottom for the answer if you can’t be bothered to read the article.

It’s not often that the talk at my daughter’s primary school gate is about wine but this week was an exception. One of the mothers asked me if I’d heard about this wine that cost £4 and was the best in the world. Another mother had read about it in the papers. Best in the world and only £4. They seemed disappointed that I hadn’t tried it. The one time when being a wine writer should have come in useful and I’d failed. I had to try this wine.

It wasn’t hard to find out about it. The Independent, the Telegraph, the Huff Post, Marie Claire, Metro, City Am and the mighty Dorset Echo have all covered the La Moneda Malbec Reserva 2015 winning best in show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (click here to find out more about the award). It’s currently on sale for £4.37 a bottle (normally £5.75). Apparently such has been the stampede to obtain The Best Wine in the World that Asda’s website has crashed.

I spoke to the Asda press office and explained how I was losing credibility with the Blackheath mothers and they kindly sent me a bottle. I opened it with much excitement. Actually I didn’t. I opened it with a fair degree of scepticism. When I worked at Oddbins years ago, we often used to be surprised at the wines eg Bin 65 Chardonnay that won trophies at the IWC or the Decanter. Nevertheless we stocked up and they sold out.

So this Malbec then? Is it the best in the world under £15? No, I doubt it’s the best at Asda under £15. Instead it’s a well made clean tasting fruity wine that’s far far better than you’d expect for around £4. What I liked about it was its lowish alcohol (12.5%) and lack of pretension. There’s a tiny bit of vanilla suggesting some oak treatment but this is a wine that isn’t trying to taste like something more expensive. If, however, you’re expecting the best wine in the world, you are going to be disappointed.

My wife was not keen at all and didn’t even finish her glass but then she has expensive tastes. So all in all not a wine worth getting excited about but having tried it, at least I have saved some professional face at the school gates.

 

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London’s Best Wine Bars

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Today, wine bars are fashionable. There’s even been talk that wine itself might be… *whisper it* cool. Things were very different when I was growing up. Wines bars were considered terribly old-fashioned. Most weren’t even aimed at wine lovers. Instead, they were places to drink that were open later than pubs. You might have gotten some cheese and crackers or shop-bought pate to eat, if you were lucky. There was a chain in the north of England called Yates’s Wine Lodge; from the name, you’d imagine it was a good place to discuss the difference between left bank and right bank Bordeaux. If you tried, you’d be in for a rude shock. On a Friday and Saturday night, Yates’s would be crammed with people getting uproariously drunk on anything but wine.

Even during the dark days, however, there were places serving good quality wine and food, and some of them are still around. What the newer places offer is sharper cookery and more adventurous wines, many of which are available by the glass thanks to the wonders of Enomatic machines or the Coravin (a sort of handheld Enomatic that dispenses a tasting measure and then seals the bottle with an inert gas). So I thought it would be interesting to examine the now-thriving wine bar sector in London. I’ve tried to group them roughly in order of opening, so you go from very old school to bang up to date.

 

El Vino, 47 Fleet St, London EC4Y 1BJ

A legend since 1879. Fleet Street used to be the home of London’s newspapers and this is where the journalists would drink and gossip. Women weren’t allowed at the bar until the 1980s! It’s less raucous now as the customers are mainly lawyers. The food is basic, the meat pies are the thing to go for. The wine list extremely old-fashioned, lots of claret, generic white burgundy by the glass, and none the worse for it. It’s recently been taken over by Davy’s, a wine bar chain, so it’s not clear what the future is.

 

Gordon’s 47 Villiers St, London WC2N 6NE

Entering Gordon’s is like being in one of those Roger Corman adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe. The ceiling is incredibly low, there’s cobwebs and candles everywhere. I keep expecting Vincent Price to be on the next table. It’s also a total tourist trap and can get unpleasantly busy, but is worth visiting for the amazing atmosphere. The by the bottle wine list is a bit dull so I’d recommend you order sherry or madeira which come directly from the barrel.  

 

Le Beaujolais, 25 Litchfield St, London WC2H 9NJ

It feels like nothing at all has changed in here since it opened in 1972. The wine list consists of mainly negociant Beaujolais. It’s not the kind of place to share your obsession with low sulphur Morgon producers.  You’re here to have fun. Sobriety is positively frowned upon and don’t be surprised if you ended up leaving with someone else’s wife or husband. The food is good especially the Boeuf Bourguignon.

 

Cork & Bottle 44-46 Cranbourn Alley, London WC2H 7AN

Another 70s stalwart. This place used to be very popular with the wine trade. They’ve probably moved on to somewhere trendy in East London which is a shame because this place is rather good. The room, a spacious and nicely lit cellar, is inviting. The, not particularly cheap, wine list is full of tempting stuff especially from Southern Rhone and Australia.  It’s recently changed hands and the food has improved.

 

Albertine, 1 Wood Lane, London W12 7DP

Out in Shepherd’s Bush in West London, in the old days when BBC TV centre was around the corner, you might trip over  Jeremy Irons or Maggie Smith sipping a glass of Muscadet. Since the studios closed in 2013, the clientele is now mainly newish locals who have been priced out of Notting Hill. The wine list very solid, with producers such as De Martino from Chile, just the sort of stuff that I like to drink at home. The food is good home-cooked stuff, beef stroganoff, chicken curry, that sort of thing. It has a proper family feel.

 

Andrew Edmunds , 46 Lexington St, London W1F 0LP

A Soho stalwart, this is more of a restaurant but notable for it’s extensive and often good value wine list. I often run into the eponymous proprietor at tastings around London and he really knows his stuff. Cooking is simple bistro stuff, usually delicious. It’s very romantic too.

 

Mr Lawrence, 391 Brockley Rd, London SE4 2PH

I’m count myself very lucky to have this place on my doorstep in south east London. They import their own wine from south west France as well as champagne and armagnac . You can order food from the pub next door and eat it in the wood-panelled splendour of the dining room. A neighbourhood gem but worth going to visit as well.

 

Planet of the Grapes, 9/10 Bulls Head Passage, Leadenhall Market, London EC3V 1LU

This business started out as a shop in Holborn, they’ve since expanded to three wine bars in the City and one further west in the neo-baroque Sicilian Avenue. You can buy wines to take away or for a corkage fee, drink them on site with food. The wines are excellent, very much the kind of thing that you can imagine prosperous stock brokers drinking, claret, burgundy, Brunello, and Californian cabernets.  Just don’t ask for natural wine.

 

Terroirs, 5 William IV St, London WC2N 4DW

This was the only natural wine bar in London when it opened in 2009. Some of the wines are a too natural for me but the knowledgeable  staff are always happy to steer me towards something more conventional. Whilst the wines can a be a little wacky, the food is decidedly classic, very French, cassoulet etc with particularly good shellfish. They have a sister restaurant in East London called Brawn.

 

10 Cases,16 Endell St, London WC2H 9BD

The name comes from their policy of buying ten cases each of special wines and selling them until they’re gone. They also do a regular house selection. On my last visit I had a very good mosel riesling by the glass and a Xinomavro from Greece with some great tapas. They’re currently trialling a one hour wine delivery service in central London so you don’t even need to leave your home to get the 10 Cases experience.

 

Sager & Wilde, 193 Hackney Road, London E2 8JL

Where Sager & Wilde sits used to be the roughest pub in East London, the British Lion. My Uncle used to go there to talk about horses with the locals. It was opened in 2013 by Charlotte and Michael Sager-Wilde and has since become wildly popular not least with the wine trade. The list is very modish with orange wines, Santa Barbara pinot noirs and Jura whites. Their cheddar cheese toastie has achieved mythical status. They have another venue which is more of a restaurant under the arches in nearby Bethnal Green

 

Wine Pantry, 1 Stoney St, London SE1 9AA –

A few years ago a bar that only sold English wine would be a punchline to a joke. Not now. English sparkling wines in particular are winning plaudits all over the world. The still whites, even some reds are catching up fast.  Julia Stafford, the owner of this place in Borough Market, bursts with enthusiasm. If you come sceptical, like I did, you’ll leave converted especially after half dozen oysters and a glass of Henners Brut Reserve.

 

Quality Chop House, 88-94 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3EA

This London institution was closed for a few years but reopened in 2014 under new management. It lives up to its name by offering the finest pork chop I think I’ve ever had (sorry mum) especially with their signature confit potato. It has a great wine list, of course, with a very nice Bergerac as the house red. Particularly exciting are the early 20th century Rivesaltes and Maurys (sweet French wines not dissimilar to port) which they offer by the glass.

 

Wine makers club, 41a Farringdon St, London EC4A 4AN

This was once a branch of Oddbins, the chain of wine merchants where I worked in the late 90s. It’s an incredible space under the Holborn Viaduct but beware, it’s basically a cellar, so wrap up warm. The cold smell of damp mingled with wine when you walk into the bar took me back to my days in the wine trade. They offer a very interesting selection of wines, particularly good on Tuscany with Brunello from Sesti and Chianti from Riecine. There’s simple food available to eat alongside.

 

Noble Rot, 51 Lamb’s Conduit St, London WC1N 3NB

The owners, Marks Andrew a former wine merchant, and Dan Keeling, former A&R man who discovered Coldplay, are geniuses are self-promotion. I’ve never known a new wine bar opening to get so much attention. Fortunately the place lives up to the hype, they’ve taken on a top chef, Paul Weaver, formerly of St. John’s, and the wine list made me want to empty my savings account.  On my last visit, I had some mouthwateringly juicy hogget (somewhere between lamb and mutton in age) which went down nicely with a well-priced bottle of Vina Tondonia Rioja. The owners edit a wine magazine also called Noble Rot which you can read whilst you wait for your food.

 

67 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ES

I shouldn’t include this place because it’s a private members club but the by the class list is so extensive that I thought it worth mentioning. I had an a delicious Cote Rotie from Jasmine for £9 a glass. It would be double anywhere else. With it I had some, very good, bar snacks but there is a proper restaurant too. My advice is to befriend a member next time you’re in London.

This originally appeared in Food & Wine magazine. 

 

 

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A not very boozy interview with Lucy Madison

I’ve been reading a delightful book that combines food with memoir called Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood with Recipes by Lucy Madison and Tram Nuguyen. It’s one that has made me smile and laugh more than any food book I’ve read in a long time. It’s written by two childhood friends and it’s about them growing up and growing apart and coming back together with food being the glue that binds the story together. It’s the sort of book that I wish I’d read in my 20s. There’s no melodrama, no Steel Magnolias-style death bed weepathons, instead it sort of crept under my skin and hooked me gently but firmly. What kept me reading was the quality of the writing, the honesty and the deadpan humour. This is Lucy on her attempts to become a reporter:

“The chief activities I fear in life include speaking on the telephone; talking to strangers; giving people a reason to be mad at me; dealing with people who are mad at me; and asking people to do things they don’t want to do. These activities loosely describe the day-to-day activities of being a reporter.”

There’s a chapter where Tram becomes a cartoon animal costume builder which manages to be slapstick and intensely moving at the same time. And the recipes at the end of every chapter, especially the Vietnamese ones, sound delicious. Lucy has very kindly agreed to answer to some questions :

So what’s your problem with Malbec?

To be fair to Malbec, I first experienced it as a broke 20-year-old while studying abroad in Argentina—so I wasn’t exactly tasting the finest examples of the grape. I would love to go back to Argentina and learn more about it, because I know there are so many winemakers making amazing bottles there now. But I’ve often found Malbec to be a bit harsh and acidic for my palate.

What wine do you like?

Right now I’m craving a crisp, minerally white—like a nice, nutty Grüner Veltliner. Maybe it’s because it’s almost summer. I’m also into Falanghina; I discovered it on my honeymoon in Italy and I’ve been seeking it out ever since. Oh, and I’ll never say no to champagne.

What’s your favourite drink to reward yourself after a long day’s writing?

I love a strong Manhattan.

Do you have a favourite bar in New York?

I’m about to move from the West Village to Brooklyn, so I’m feeling especially nostalgic about some of my neighborhood spots right now. The West Village can get a little touristy and overrun, so I feel a lot of fondness for my local dive bar, Automatic Slims, which is never too packed. It’s got cheap wine, great bartenders, and decent bar food. For something more upscale I like Anfora, which has an excellent wine list and the best ricotta toast I’ve ever had.

What’s your ultimate comfort food?

Cacio e pepe. Or an elaborate cheese plate. Basically any iteration of pasta and cheese.

Is there anything that you are terrible at doing in the kitchen?

I’m not super comfortable cooking red meat in a sophisticated way. I was a vegetarian for a long time, so I didn’t get a lot of practice preparing meat-heavy dishes until I was in my mid-20s. I’ve gotten better over the years, but I don’t have that built-in confidence I have with baked goods and starches.

Which food writers are an inspiration to you? (or writers in general)

Nora Ephron’s Heartburn is only tangentially about food, but it’s one of my favorite books of all time. It’s so funny. It has the perfect hilarious-to-heartbreaking ratio. And Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking. I love anything that’s funny and cozy and embraces the idea of imperfection.

And favourite cookbooks?

I love the Cook’s Illustrated books. I like imagining their whole team of professional cooks in the kitchen, testing out a million variations on a recipe so that I don’t have to. I also like to read recipes online and then scour the reviews for comments on what worked and what didn’t, and tailor the recipe accordingly.

How did you get into writing about food?

My best friend Tram Nugyen and I started a food blog, Pen & Palate, a few years ago. We had wanted to collaborate on a project for years, and we both love food and cooking. We’d write about what was going on in our lives and then include a recipe at the end of each post. Tram is an amazing artist, and she illustrates the whole thing.

How did the book come about?

In a lot of ways the book felt like a natural extension of what we were already doing, because the blog was always driven by the stories and the narrative as much as by the recipes. So when someone approached us about the possibility of doing a food memoir, it seemed like a natural fit.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don’t get too caught up in how terrible you think you are! The first draft is allowed to suck; just put down whatever you can and then edit the shit out of it. Also, try not to take criticism too personally. This is impossible but, I’m told, invaluable.

Are you working on another book?

Not yet! Right now I’m trying to take one thing at a time—the book, a baby that could drop at any moment, and a new apartment. Once that’s all settled, I’m going to try to figure out what’s next.

Thank you Lucy! 

Find out more about the book here: Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes . You can read more about Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen on their blog: Pen & Palate.  

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Swarthy Chicken in 2016

Chagrinnamon Toast

Swarthy chicken is a family classic, but over the years it has evolved.  For a while, I was queen of this dish.  These days, my husband, Henry Jeffreys, is king.

Though I have always loved cooking, my abilities drastically improved when Henry entered my life.  In many ways, he taught me how to cook.  He taught me that it was not only wasteful to discard the carcass of a roast chicken, but also a shame as it makes such delicious stock.  Most of the pasta sauces I make are versions of his.  Same with my savoury pies.  I’ll admit I never even made gravy until he showed me how.

The first time I visited him in London, he made a rolled shoulder of lamb stuffed with anchovies, garlic, capers, parsley, and lemon.  He served it with a bottle of Rioja Reserva. Immediately I fell in love and then into a food coma.  …

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The mysteries of distillation

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The image above is on the distillery door at Delord in Armagnac. It shows the working of an alambic a continuous still used to make the spirit. Continuous in that the wine is constantly pumped in (where it says vin) and spirit comes out where it says ‘60%’ (alcohol that is) rather than made in batches as with a pot still. Most are built from copper to 19th century specification by a firm in Condom. To my eye they look like something from Victorian science fiction. 

Château du Tariquet #basarmagnac #copper #alambic #continousdistillation #woodfired #shiny #authentic

Some producers such as Janneau make some spirit in pot stills. The cellarmaster, Philippe Sourbes told me that the alambic produces a spirit with  ‘more personality’ whereas the pot still makes ‘a lighter spirit that needs less ageing.’ This is the exact opposite of what whisky distillers will tell you. Pot-distilled whisky is highly prized. Many Irish whiskies make much of being pot-distilled. Malt whiskey in Scotland can only be made in pots. The cheaper Lowland whiskies with less personality are made in a continuous still not dissimilar to an alambic

How do you explain this discrepancy? I don’t actually know. So as far as I can surmise, continuous stills used in Armagnac work less efficiently than those used in Scotland and Ireland. Certainly they are much smaller and the Analyzer, the column on the left, has less stages in Armagnac than in whisky production. Also the stills in Armagnac work at a lower temperature so that the spirit that comes out at the end will be lower in alcohol therefore it contains more impurities. Ian Buxton, author of 101 Gins to Try Before you Die, put it more succintly

“Fewer plates = less reflux = more impurity = more flavour. Also they use pretty short columns and don’t distil to a particularly high strength so will retain more character.
Base is wine so more inherent flavour complexity than beer base seen in whisky.”
A bit of a nerdy post but I find this sort of thing fascinating. I’d assumed that pot stills always produced a more flavourful spirit. In fact there’s a chapter in my forthcoming book, Empire of Booze, about the difference between Highland and Lowland whiskies, which looks at the two processes and pronounces confidently that pot spirit has more character. It makes you realise that it’s not the process that matters so much as the intention. In Armagnac they are looking for flavour above all from their traditional stills. Seek and ye shall find!

You can read more about my adventures in Armagnac here

 

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Armagnac trip

My wife and I have just come back from a trip to Armagnac which was organised by Amanda Garnham (most of these photos are courtesy of her) from the Armagnac marketing board (BNIA). I arrived knowing next to nothing about this Gascon brandy and I left, not only full of knowledge, but also full of love (and full of booze.) I’ve taken to having a small glass after meals, ‘to help with my digestion’ just like an old Frenchman. I’ll be writing more about Armagnac soon but meanwhile here are a few photos from the trip:

My wife at the main station in Toulouse. We had arrived in Toulouse during the traditional cabbies’ strike, an annual event that dates back to the time of Charlemagne, so had to take a rather circuitous route to Armagnac country.
Beautiful vines in Armagnac #vines #grapes #wine #armagnac #natural #flowers #newlife #gers
Vines in Armagnac country
Hand stamping at #armagnac_delord #gold #wax #craftspirits #armagnac #artisanal #france #gers
 Hand-waxed bottles at Delord.
I lied about my age.
Hero #bergerallemand #dog #majestic #big #loving #handsome
There are some excellent dogs in Armagnac. This one at Baron de Sigognac.
Château du Tariquet #basarmagnac #copper #alambic #continousdistillation #woodfired #shiny #authentic
At the heart of every Armagnac producer is a still that looks like something out of Jules Verne. This one is at Domaine du Tariquet. They use the most up-to-date technology for their wines, you’ve probably tried their exemplary Cotes de Gascogne, but for their brandies they use a wood-fired copper still.
Baron de Sigognac #armagnac #alambic #serpentine #copper #distillation
Close up of still used by Baron de Sigognac (I think.) It has some plates removed so you can see inside. The process is extremely clever as the wine for distillation cools the distilled spirit making the process very energy efficient.
#Armagnac_delord #alambic #beautifuldrawing #colour full #armagnac #continousdistillation #artisanal #handmade #plan #diagram
What interested me is that most producers in Armagnac use a continuous still like the one above. They say it produces a spirit with more character. This is the exact opposite of what whisky producers in Scotland will tell you. They say pot stills producer a spirit with more flavour. They only way I can explain this is that an Armagnac continuous still has less layers in than one used in whisky, gin and vodka production, hence why the resulting spirit contains more of the character of the wine. The still is also run at a lower temperature which will also preserve more of the non-ethanol compounds. (Probably, I am not certain of this.)
Baron de Sigognac #armagnac #spirit #gers #france #vintage #1924 #age #delicious
Most producers have very old vintages for sale. This one will set you back around £1000 which reflects it’s rarity. More recent vintages, say from 70s and 80s, are much more affordable.
Janneau Armagnac #Armagnac #janneau #condom #oldpublicity #blackandwhite #janneausaitquoi #lovers
Excellent old advert for Janneau. They should revive this. And finally my wife and I after a few old Armagnacs trying to recreate the ad.

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11 places to go out in Peckham

Il Giardino

This is an article I wrote for Food & Wine. If you’d told me 10 years ago that an American magazine would run an article on Peckham’s food scene, I’d have thought you were barking mad. It’s thrilling and a little terrifying how quickly London is changing. 

For a long time, Peckham was notorious among Londoners for its gang violence, bad schools and decaying housing estates. Until recently, this unloved part of South East London didn’t even have the urban glamour of other rough neighborhoods like Brixton or Hackney; there was just no reason to go there. Then, about ten years ago, artists who had been pushed out of East London by rising rents began colonizing the neighborhood’s old industrial buildings, and soon people with money began moving in. The usual story really, but in Peckham it happened so fast. Seemingly overnight, SE15 went from being a postcode I wouldn’t even consider moving to, to one I couldn’t afford.

Peckham has certain advantages over other gentrifying suburbs. It was developed in the 19th century for the newly affluent middle classes and it still has lots of good quality (albeit increasingly expensive) Victorian houses. There’s large park in the form of Peckham Rye. And it’s well-connected: from the beautiful if dilapidated Italianate station at Peckham Rye, you can catch trains to all over London. The schools are improving with independently run state schools getting outstanding results.

The best thing about Peckham, though, is the food. I live in nearby Lewisham, which is still stubbornly resisting gentrification and some of its trappings, like good restaurants. So whenever we want to eat or drink well, we go to Peckham. Despite all the great restaurants, even on a Friday night, it’s not that busy. The bridge and tunnel crowd haven’t discovered the neighborhood yet—unless you count my wife and me. Here are a few places to try:

Il Giardino7 Blenheim Grove, London SE15 4QS

This Sardinian restaurant must have seemed like an emissary from another world when it opened in 1987. Now run by a Peruvian family*, it’s the sort of old-fashioned trattoria that you dream of but so rarely find. The food is basic but lovingly prepared, with particularly good pizzas, and the atmosphere is never less than joyful. (photo above courtesy of Il Giardino.)

*I heard an unsubstantiated story that the original owners did a runner for tax reasons and the only member of staff left was the Peruvian kitchen porter who arrived at work to find the place deserted. So with his family he took the place over.

Miss Tapas46 Choumert Rd., London SE15

When you leave the train station en route to Miss Tapas, you might be forgiven for wondering when exactly the gentrification is going to arrive. The streets around it are a riot of places offering hair weaves, halal meat, and exotic fruit and veg. Nestled amongst all this, though, is this tiny place. It offers excellent tapas and a good, all-Spanish wine list that includes some unusual sherries. The owners run a business importing Spanish produce, so you can be assured that everything—drinks and food—is of the highest quality.

The NinesUnit 9A Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Road, London SE15 3SN

The Nines is a fun cocktail bar in the Bussey Building. This building is the epicenter of the new Peckham, an in fact it serves as a pretty good metaphor for the whole area. The former warehouse now houses a peculiar mixture of bars, studio spaces, and African evangelical churches. You access the Nines via an alley—it’s in a car park behind the building. The decor is basic in the extreme, but the drinks are good, strong and relatively inexpensive.

Brick Brewery, Blenheim Grove, London SE15 4QL

Just down the road from the station is this craft brewery. The taproom is open at night, so you can sample the beer alongside salty snacks, like the cured meats they offer—ingeniously designed to get you to drink more. What could be more Peckham than having cured meats at a micro brewery?

 

Peckham Bazaar,119 Consort Rd, London SE15 3RU

You’ll walk down Consort Road thinking, surely nothing could be down here, and then, just when you’re about to give up, there is Peckham Bazaar. The food is broadly Turkish and Georgian but anything at the intersection of Europe and Asia goes. Char-grilled meats are the thing, but what really lifts it above standard Levantine fare is the bold seasoning and the imaginative use of seasonal vegetables. The wine list, mainly Greek and Croat, is brilliantly chosen. Booking in advance is essential for what is in my opinion not just one of the best restaurants in Peckham but in all of London.

Peckham Refreshment Rooms,12-16 Blenheim Grove, London SE15 4QL

Located opposite a couple of Afro-Caribbean hairdressers, the street outside gets lively in the summer with Peckham, old and new, mingling together. Inside it can be very noisy, but it’s worth it for good simple food, steaks, terrines, and charcuterie, with a short, quality wine list and craft beers (everywhere in Peckham sells craft beers). Also handy for breakfasts and coffee, this is the perfect neighborhood stalwart.

The Begging Bowl,168 Bellenden Rd., London, Peckham SE15 4BW

Oddly for a city as diverse as London, it’s really hard to find good Thai food here. The Begging Bowl offers bold, fresh flavors, with unusual things such as a duck offal salad (much nicer than it sounds). Peckham these days can be a bit us and them, so it’s nice to see that the Begging Bowl is popular with a broad cross-section of the community. It’s been open since 2012 and already feels like an institution.

The Pedler8 Peckham Rye, Peckham, London SE15 4JR

Restaurant critics are now regularly making the journey down to SE15 to try the latest places. Pedler, which is right near Peckham Rye, is just the kind of place that I wish someone would open in Lewisham. The food is what used to be called eclectic—think British with Italian, Spanish, and French influences, and Eastern flourishes. Like lemon sole served with ginger and Sriracha butter. They also take their gin-based cocktails very seriously.

 

Ganapati, 38 Holly Grove, London SE15 5DF

Most Indian restaurants in Britain are run by Bangladeshis. Ganapati is a little different. It serves authentic Southern Indian food in a relaxed cafe atmosphere. Again unlike most British Indian restaurants, the owners change the menu regularly to reflect what is in season. Their dosas and parathas are particularly fine. It has a nice terrace for outside dining in the summer.

Artusi, 161 Bellenden Rd., London SE15 4DH

Bellenden Road is a hotbed of gentrification, bustling with with upmarket delicatessens, restaurants and an organic butcher, so it’s no surprise to find a voguish Italian place such as Artusi. They offer charcuterie, offal, cheeses and excellent homemade pasta. The menu changes daily but everything on it is always mouth-watering. The wine list can veer towards the funky end of ‘natural’ wines, so if you’re a wine conservative like me, ask before you order.

Rosie’s Deli28 Peckham Rye, London SE15 4JR

Rosie’s Deli in nearby Brixton has been offering excellent food to South Londoners since 2003. The owner, food writer Rosie Lovell, has just opened this much bigger branch near the Rye. It’s a great place to have breakfast, and it has very good coffee. While you’re there, you must try her signature dish of scrambled eggs with chilli jam.

 

 

 

 

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