Peckham Rye is a foodie hub that has seen a wave of pioneering restaurants opening from the Italian Artusi and the Thai flavours of The Begging Bowl, to the Peckham Refreshment Rooms and the Balkan influences of Peckham Bazaar. One of its main attractions is neatly painted blue Pedler, which I’d been meaning to try for a while, either for brunch or for dinner. Now that a school friend had moved to the area, a catch-up cocktail and a sharing plate supper was a perfect opportunity to try it out.
Opened by local residents Tim Moore and Taskin Muzaffer, Pedler is an emblem of gentrification – a touch boho but so bijou. Sitting amid a parade of shops, Pedler is no bigger than the ground-floor of a house, yet all available space has been used to the max. It exudes a shabby-chic décor that plays on the antiquities of England: there’s a fine bar, green-painted wood below, marble on top, along with plenty of stools to perch on and casual rattan chairs around. There’s also a fantastic old, or salvaged, parquet floor, whilst the exposed brick back wall is dotted with vintage asymmetrically placed cabinets. One of the (high)lights of the interior is the exposed piping and dangling filament-bulb lights with interesting shades – which to us, resembled vegetables! Placed all around are pieces of old mix-and-match china, bowls of fruit and an old pair of brass scales. Even the water arrives in a funkily re-used old screwtop jar, whilst every table has its own flowers and mismatched vintage crockery. The owners of Pedler could give lessons on how to achieve this look, the only difficulty being that making it work so well in such a confined space, while seeming so relaxed and fortuitous, requires ceaseless work and attention to detail.
The drink list is definitely worth exploring. Cocktails are largely gin based – unsurprising since Pedler is the sister restaurant to a small-batch gin distillery on Maltby Street. But the revelation of the evening for me was the sparkling RED wine: Lambrusco Montelocco. Why is this not the latest foodie – or rather drinks – trend?!
The food, meanwhile, did not disappoint. The chef here, amazingly productive from a tiny kitchen at the back, is Gareth Crosby, formerly at both Rules in Covent Garden and the pop-up Licky Chops. Everything is extremely eclectic, with dishes deriving their inspiration from across all parts of the globe. The menu changes daily and tonight I opted for the Roasted cauliflower, Jerusalem ‘chokes, charred leeks and a harissa dressing (£9). The tastes were high-impact, charred and smokey, spilling with flavor. The kitchen here loves charring food and I loved eating it. Pedler’s style of cooking is big hits in small portions – all smokey, hot, peppery, barbecue and streetfood-influenced. And the chef had chosen the perfect ingredient through which to showcase these techniques: the cauliflower is enjoying something of a Renaissance at the moment, especially since shining at The Palomar. The size of the portion was also so generous. Though people tend to share plates here, one dish was enough for me.
Almost everything in this restaurant is well tended to, from the food and the friendly waiters, to the trendy décor and even the playlist. When we went on a mid-week night, the place was buzzing, packed with people looking so happy to be there. This neighbourhood restaurant could well tempt outsiders to the Rye. Excitingly, something/someone called “The Beautiful Pizza Boy”, a new wood-fired oven pizzeria and terrace from the same team, has just landed on Bellenden Road, so stay tuned…!
Pedler, 58 Peckham Rye, SE15 4JR