Best Restaurants in Peckham | olivemagazine

People gathered outside on the garden terrace at Peckham Arches

Mambow, Market Peckham

The latest from Michelin-trained chef Abby Lee, Mambow is a modern Malaysian restaurant tucked in the corner of Market Peckham. A polished yet casual complex where you’ll also find south-east favourites Forza Wine and ramen joint Tonkotsu, rows of open kitchens frame the low-lit communal space, furnished with table-counter seating and high tables for walk-ins and reservations. Mambow’s compact menu focuses on Nyonya (Chinese-Malaysian) dishes, where fragrant small plates teeming with heat take centre stage. Wine is given equal importance, thanks to a menu of natural wines curated by Les Caves de Pyrene. The starter of crunchy Nyonya pickles is a must-order, as is the lor bak: juicy pork and prawn encased in crispy, deep-fried bean curd clusters and served with a lip-smacking, jammy chilli vinegar. For mains, there’s the earthy kick of the fish curry, soaked up by fluffy turmeric rice, while the fragrant jackfruit curry – the menu’s vegetarian option – makes a creamier, cooler alternative. The menu’s dessert, a palate-cleansing pandan jelly cendol topped with red beans (a south-east Asian iced dessert), is the perfect antidote to the fierier flavours of the savoury dishes.

Small plates including pickles, turmeric rice and curries

Mondo Sando at The White Horse, Peckham Rye

You can now get your hands on Mondo Sando’s signature stacked subs all year around thanks to a permanent residence at The White Horse Pub in Peckham. Soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside, their heavenly rolls are densely packed with bold, eclectic ingredients, from chargrilled chicken tikka and deep-fried aubergine to garlic naan chips. There are yakitori skewers, merguez burgers and Sunday roasts, too, such as rolled lamb shoulder, merguez & apricot stuffing, chimichurri and Yorkshire puds. The vegan ‘Larb, Actually’ is rammed with soy mince larb, Thai basil, mint, coriander, dressed in a chilli-lime dressing, topped with toasted rice powder, black bean mayo and pickled green beans, while the famously indulgent ‘The Fauxmoor’ comes chock-full of rare roast beef, shoestring fries, peppercorn sauce, sweet peppers, rocket, and gravy mayo, served with a jus pot for dunking. Finish with banana split ice cream wedged between two cookies if you physically can.

5. LarbActually

En Root, Peckham Rye

Brothers Nish and Harsh have come a long way since selling hot sauce at markets in 2016, expanding to a bricks-and-mortar in Clapham and, more recently, a plant-based restaurant in Peckham decked with plants, draped mandala tapestries and decorative cushions.

Sip on the watermelon juice with beetroot, apple, ginger and mint during summer evenings, or ask for the modestly priced cocktail menu, where juices are livened with rum. Nourishing vegan fare lies at the heart of En Root, offering Indian classics and street food nibbles infused with Gujarati spices. Start with sharing bites: puri is filled with beetroot, onions and chickpeas, and submerged in date tamarind masala water, while the plantain chaat – seasoned plantain on a bed of beetroot, onions, chickpeas, ‘spice krispies’ and chutney – is an explosion of sweet crunch.

For mains, saag aloo-filled dosas come with lentil soup and coconut chutney. Or, for optimum health, try the buddha bowl, generously filled with rainbow salad, baba ghanoush, sprouted lentils, curried chickpeas, plantain and avocado. To finish, the mango lassi cheesecake on an oaty coconut base offers a healthier twist on the original – best served with creamy chai.

The interior at En Root, with wooden flooring, plants and decorative cushions

Peckham Cellars, Queen’s Road

Elegant floor-to-ceiling Crittal windows frame this breezy, laid-back wine bar on Queen’s Road in Peckham. Start with a glass of lemony Gusbourne fizz from Kent before delving into a wine list defined by sustainably minded, small-scale producers, with plenty of affordable options by the glass. We try another Kentish stunner – Westwell’s Ortega Amphora 2019, fermented in terracotta jars – with fragrant apricot and honey suckle notes, before moving onto summery, cherry-tinged chilled gamay, available on tap at the bar.

A quietly industrious open kitchen, led by chef Henry Freestone – garlanded with a Bib Gourmand in 2020 – amiably sends out plates of unfussy yet deceptively luxurious food. Highlights include springy sourdough with whipped lemon and rosemary butter, porchetta layered with crispy, salty shards of crackling, and filo-wrapped asparagus with a soft-boiled duck egg for dipping. Save space for pudding – a decadent lemon meringue pie sundae is the childhood dessert of dreams.

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South-east Londoners looking for interesting wines to drink at home should also check out PC’s Club Del Vino, which delivers curated cases of wine, as well as discounts and offers on the bar’s online wine shop.

Peckham Cellars wine club

Levan, Blenheim Grove

Inspired by the new-wave bistros of Paris, Levan’s short menu is split into three sections – snacks, small plates and larger sharing dishes. Start with a few snacks –tuck into a unique comté panisse that’s deep-fried to produce bouncy, cheesy domino fries to dip into saffron aïoli.

The highlight of the small plates is the ravioli – thick pasta parcels filled with brown butter-caramelised celeriac, accompanied by knobbly, deep-fried jerusalem artichokes and crisp cavolo nero. For mains, the vacherin pie is rich and cheesy, peppery and earthy – a shiny golden dome with frilly outer crust that collapses into layers of dauphinoise potatoes, slow-cooked black trompette and chestnut mushrooms and melted vacherin cheese. Finish with tarte tatin. The golden puff pastry melts away, with salted caramel-braised apple slices adding lip-smacking salty-sweetness.

The carefully curated wine list focusses on low-intervention and natural wines. Jura chardonnay is super fresh with toffee notes, while vibrant trousseau makes for a light and fruity red with a hint of smoke. There are just two cocktails: the simple ‘white’ mixes Tanqueray 10 with Belthasar riesling vermouth over a large block of ice, while the ‘red’ is served in a more elegant flute with wine-based Ciroc vodka, sweet and dry vermouth.

Levan Celeriac Ravioli

Kudu, Queen’s Road

A welcome addition to Peckham’s fertile restaurant scene, Kudu is a stylish neighbourhood outfit that has crafted a small but expertly curated menu of modern European dishes that also draws inspiration from head chef Patrick Williams’ South African roots. Inside, pale pink walls, marble tabletops, stylish brown Scandi-style chairs and teal-coloured banquettes warm up the stripped- back space.

Start with one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, the kudu bread, which you dip into melted, salty and seriously moreish lardon butter. Accompany this with meaty, crispy-fried artichokes with a creamy miso mayonnaise. The mains on the menu are enticing, with tapas-style small and medium sharing plates. Opt for a sweet, caramelised onion and beer tarte tatin with a fresh and light goat’s curd, and a carefully crafted pig’s head tortellini in a salty hay broth. Another must-order on the menu is the roasted skate wing with Calçot spring onions, which is beautifully soft yet meaty.

Kudu fulfils all expectations of what a good neighbourhood restaurant should be, with a rustic menu with plenty of modern twists.

Kudu 031

The Tapas Room, Peckham High Street

Going to Tapas Room in Peckham is like being in a glass bubble of a restaurant, smack bang on the high street. Buses and cars hurl by outside while delightful plates of carefully crafted deliciousness glide to your table inside. Effortless wine recommendations come from a well-assembled list and a menu full of Spanish wines ordered geographically.

Don’t leave without trying the confit fennel where the fresh and subtle fennel is transformed by the confit process and balanced by the sweet/sharpness of the pickled fig and intensity of a creamy yet punchy Asturian blue cheese. The mixed cured meat and cheese platter is perfect for two if you’re still hungry. Split six or so dishes between two if you’re after a main meal but simply stopping in for some salt cod croquettas and a glass of sherry is a superb way to start any evening out in south London.

A mixed cured meat and cheese platter with bread on a wooden table

Skylight, Theatre Walk

In recent years, Peckham has become home to a clutch of renowned rooftop restaurants and bars. Skylight Peckham, on top of theatre school Mountview, is the newest in the fleet and boasts a striking sweeping city-wide view. The impressive interiors, including a zinc-topped bar, are second to the signature list of cocktails – including a super-charged South London Iced Tea, packed with cognac, rum, tequila, vodka, Cointreau and cranberry juice. A comforting and spacious interior makes this a perfect place for warm summer evenings on the terrace or even somewhere to sit and have lunch while working. A highlight on the menu is the burrata topped with smoked aubergine and ‘nduja, or visit on Sundays for a rotating BBQ menu featuring South African, Portuguese and Jamaican dishes.

The exterior at Skylight, boasting sweeping city-wide views

Frank’s Café, Rye Lane

This is about as trendy and hipster as you get, but in the best possible way. On top of a multi-storey car park in Peckham, there’s a pithy list of on-trend drinks, from negronis, margaritas and cucumber gimlets to jug cocktails such as white port and tonic, and fruity rum punch. Snacks include brown sugar hot wings, deep-fried mackerel in a bun, and lamb breast kebab with burnt chilli yogurt.

Persepolis, Peckham High Street

Pay a visit to Persepolis for a taste of Persia in the heart of Peckham. Beyond the deli’s impressive selection of tins, spices, Persian yogurts and display of shisha pipes, you’ll find a cosy hideout where diners feast on freshly made meze platters and veggie and vegan delights such as eggs scrambled with dates and fragrant spices, and dairy-free knickerbocker glories.

This popular café is a favourite among locals for its no-nonsense, avocado-free breakfasts (think mango and tamarind smoothies and pots of Persian tea with cardamom); however, the £20 tasting menu is the real standout: a colourful carousel of food spanning meze, soup, mains and a dessert platter filled with ice cream, paklava and fruit.

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