Review: Peckham Bazaar

Dining next to the pass. The guys are all charming and very well behaved, despite you basically sitting in the kitchen with them.
Dining next to the pass. The guys are all charming and very well behaved, despite you basically sitting in the kitchen with them.

Straight up – let me tell you. The food is amazing. I was going to tease it out, maybe fool with you a little. But, much like the place itself, there’s no mucking around here.

It starts relatively inauspiciously. You either take the train to Peckham Rye or the bus to some place near there, walk away from main streets and towards the arse end of nowhere. You meet a little mini roundabout and keep walking. Just as you think you’re well and truly lost (and after passing an abandoned railway which I understand is shortly to be the Peckham Highline), you come across what looks like an old pub with light and people and the smell of something good spilling out of it. This, my friend, is Peckham Bazaar.

I’d been dying to go for some time ever since one of my favourite food bloggers, Helen Graves, had raved about the pop up and  I’ve been trying to invegle various people into coming along.

“New job? Let’s celebrate! How about Peckham Bazaar?”

“Lost your job? Too bad. Let’s cheer you up by going to this place I’ve heard about…”

“Pregnant? Getting cravings? We should go get Balkan food…” 

Yes, I’m a horrible person. Fortunately, my friends either resist my completely transparent attempts to get my own way or live in places whereby it becomes too much of an ask to get them dahn sarf in the first place, so Peckham might as well be South Georgia for all they care. Fortunately others weren’t quite such fraidy-cats and after one or two really great reviews I was near-gagging to go.

So, a special occasion was coming up and I was determined to drag the Lovely One there and see what all the fuss was about. Two reasons for this.

Number one. I LOVE anything vaguely greek-med-balkan, food-wise. Smoky, tasty, lovely and basically my kind of stuff, but I rarely make it myself. Somewhere between not having a barbecue (or any outdoor space) and not having the large family needed to justify making tons of roast lamb, it means I rarely get the opportunity of a good example of this stuff.

Which brings me to the second reason. There are LOTS of greek-med-balkan type places in London. But… let’s be honest now, between friends. They’re not all great, are they? I remember this place near Marylebone that a pal of mine dragged me to, you know, the kind of place where the roast meats have a ton of dried oregano and mint dumped on the top and the dips are fresh but all vaguely taste the same. And while I LIKE the Tas group, if I have one more work meal at one of their restaurants I will scream. I used to live in Hackney which was a hop, skip and a jump to the joys of Mangal and Mangal Too, and since moving south I’ve felt the loss keenly. But even then, it wasn’t really stuff I’d never had the chance of trying, it was more… you know what you were getting, and it was good, and you were satisfied. But I’m looking for more.

And it’s fair to say I got it.

First, because it’s only fair, the cons. The room is quite small and intimate and HELLA loud. Clattering and chattering and you do have to pipe up to be heard by your fellow diners. But I’m not sure I’d change it, because then you’d miss the bustle of the indoor grill and the banter at the pass (we saw the chefs playing with some fennel “hands” and waving at each other which was just so cute).

Also, the tables are very close together, so you do get cosy with your fellow diners – as our neighbours were leaving, one nearly lit her arse on fire on our candle which was quite funny, actually. So, what this means is that it’s not exactly your intimate date restaurant of choice. It’s not exactly sexy.

Deliciously fruity rose.
Deliciously fruity rose.

Finally, if you’re not ordering by the bottle the wine, which is delightful, is not cheap and the choice by the glass is fairly limited. So I’d try and get at least a few of you along and pick something nice (I had the rose which was smashing but at a fiver for a smallish glass it really had to be).

But this, all this, is forgiven because the food is DIVINE. Unlike my pictures (sorry…)

Some beautifully squidgy baked feta with barbecued asparagus and mange tout, tarragon and raw yellow courgette and peas. Spanking fresh and so pretty.
Some beautifully squidgy baked feta with barbecued asparagus and mange tout, tarragon and raw yellow courgette and peas. Spanking fresh and so pretty.
grilled octopus, white tarama and gorgeous fresh pickled vegetables
grilled octopus, white tarama and gorgeous fresh pickled vegetables

Lovely One started with Octopus (and ruined my picture in an attempt to “protect” the food from being stolen). I was a little surprised, given he likes neither fish nor pickley things. That said, seafood is different and the octopus was divine. Creamy, tender and smokey with all the charred bits set off by what appeared to be a kind of escabeche-inspired vegetable selection underneath. The white tarama was an inspired touch and has led me to reappraise yet again whether or not I should try and make my own.

My starter was slightly let down by some rather elderly peas, but the spanking fresh courgette was a winner, set off against the woody grilled veg and the slightly bouncy baked cheese. I could eat this all day and it’s essentially now my summer eating plan. The aniseed of the tarragon worked really well with the cheese and asparagus and I’m now feeling like this is a thing to try at home asap while the season’s still on.

 

Marinated barbecue quail with asparagus and potatoes
Marinated barbecue quail with asparagus and potatoes
Adana - smoky lamb and prune kebabs on a freekeh salad, with smoky spicy red pepper sauce and skordalia
Adana – smoky lamb and prune kebabs on a freekeh salad, with smoky spicy red pepper sauce and skordalia

The main event was pretty awesome, comprising one of the tastiest quail and potato combos I’ve ever had alongside the most delicious and non-kebabby kebabs ever. The trick, I suppose, is in the delivery. Every element was perfectly done, balanced and not just thrown at the plate. Fresh and tasty, the portion sizes were just about right for us, though I heard grumbling from the next table.

I failed to take a picture of dessert before we both fell on it with spoons and fingers and general piggyness. A description will have to suffice, but when I say home-made baklava, iced kaymak  gelato (a type of balkan clotted cream) and poached rhubarb, it’s pretty much enough to give you a boner, right? Le amaze.

All in all, a most satisfactory way to celebrate and now that I’ve broken my duck, I will start insisting on heading to darkest Peckham to get my fix.

Peckham Bazaar

Around £60 for two for dinner, sharing dessert and one glass of wine (fruit based drink for the lady, innit). Special occasion stuff.

119 Consort Road, London SE15 3RU
020 7732 2525
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