photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Some things in life simply aren’t made to be rushed. Take a bath. Not literally, but as an example. You don’t rush a bath. You don’t load up Desert Island Discs and get a few bubbles going for something that you’re in and out of in five minutes. It’s a process. A process of enjoyment. Cleanliness is secondary. Some restaurants are also like this. They’re places you visit for unrushed enjoyment first and foremost. Sustenance comes a close second. Peckham Bazaar is one of these restaurants.
Mood and food are the order of the day here, specifically in that order. This is what a parent or family friend would call ‘a lovely little place’, because that’s what it is. Picture it: the corner of a residential street, a shabby red phone box out front, an ivy-covered front porch, the smells of grilled octopus and lamb adanas coming from their charcoal grill. If Richard Curtis was Mediterranean, and did restaurants, it would probably look like this. There’s nothing hectic about this place. No big groups here for a loud meal. No shouting chefs. No lurking, water-filling, gremlin servers. Everyone here lives and works as if they’ve only ever lived and worked in candlelight. It’s considered, comfortable, and never rushed. And it’s the same for the food.
The menu jumps, or rather strolls, from a familiar ingredient to complete unknown on every dish. This makes Peckham Bazaar a place for sometimes exciting eating. Covering a tiger prawn in a mystery, delicious, tomato-y sauce. Or mopping up chickpea tagine underneath the (excellent) grilled quail, wondering what on earth is going on in there. It’s like being cosy on the sofa at home before getting a certain type of text that sparks a bit of adrenaline into you. But not all of the food gets the heart racing here. A lot of the vegetarian options are in danger of falling into a bracket that we’re calling ‘feta and friends’. And while a stuffed pepper tastes decent enough, we can’t help but feel like we’ve seen this on many a dinner party menu when there’s one vegetarian invited.
Nonetheless, for a restaurant that’s so laid back it’s almost horizontal - thank you, GCSE geography teacher - Peckham Bazaar is pretty good at what it does. Yes it’s a little slow, so don’t expect to come here for an hour long dinner. This is a kick back and relax kind of restaurant. They’re not going to rush you, so why should you rush them?
Baked Feta, Marinated Beetroot, Walnuts, Chicory, Skordalia
A tasty and classic combination with the added addition of skordalia (mashed up potato and garlic). We approve.
Courgette Fritters, Cucumber, Purslaine, Radishes, Tarator
A nice enough dish but a little bland when eaten next to the feta.
Grilled Octopus, White Tarama, Cyprus Potatoes, Capers, Herbs
The kind of thing you usually eat wearing shorts, half-cut, talking about the advantages of a midnight swim. Delicious.
Pork And Beef Kefteds, Straw Potatoes, Ajvar
The kind of thing you’d really, really like to be able to make at home. Just a couple of meatballs on a pepper paste, few potatoes thrown in. Easy right? Not even.
Grilled Tiger Prawn, Tomato Feta And Ouzo Saganaki, Charred Spring Onion
Everything here sits, or lays, or maybe lounges, on an absolutely delicious sauce-type thing. This prawn is no different. We only wished there was more.
Pan-fried Kourkourbines, Butternut Squash Purée, Roasted Cauliflower, Graviera
Disappointing compared to everything else. These are similar to gnocchi, but nowhere near as good as gnocchi or similar things we’ve had before.
Grilled Quail, Chickpea & Prune Tagine, Labneh, Za’atar
Quail isn’t really a sharing dish. It’s not big enough. Between two, sure. No more. Also, this quail is too nice to share. Don’t touch our quail. It’s ours. Shoutout to this banging tagine as well.
Grilled Whole Pink Bream, Saffron Palestinian Couscous, Scottish Mussels
Another white linen trousers dish. It’s so holiday you can almost feel your anger at hearing another English voice in the restaurant. The giant couscous and mussels is especially lovely.
Wagyu Beef, Artichokes, Baby Gem, Avgolemono, Girolles
Not all that. We say skip the beef and double up on the octopus or quail.