It’s your favourite fat, ugly northern tosser bar Gazza. Gazzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. And I’m not only fatter than ever. Not only uglier than ever. But I’m even more of a dickhead than ever.
Firstly a big fuck off to 2018. And a fuck off to my life. Fuck off to my liver. And fuck off to you. Fuck off.
Joking! I bet you were thinking, “oh my word, he’s doing Veganuary!”? I mean, have you ever met a happy vegan? I can think of 4 vegans that I know – and 2 are pretty unpleasant individuals at times. I grant you that it is a small sample size – but 50% isn’t a great record.
Incoming vegans alert. Take cover.
I am however miserable enough to be doing Dry January. And Dry February. And Dry March. I may be forced to pain you with tales of non-alcoholic drinks. Or maybe I could just start a new blog – London Mocktail Life. Oh shoot me.
This week we headed back to Peckham. I really like Peckham – that mixture of African wig shops, happy hardcore stores, cycling reggae artists and camel-distrusting dive bars. Hell, even the very ordinary-looking pubs that look like they are going to be Carlsberg hell-holes are actually cool.
We had booked a table in Pedler, Peckham, a cosy, quirky restaurant a short walk from Peckham Rye station. Alas, our table wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we headed around the corner to The White Horse (anyone thinking what I’m thinking? And not in a Michael Howard kind of way) – which from the outside looked like a traditional village pub that probably only served Carlsberg – yet had a confused yet hipster-friendly crowd, pool table juxtaposed with live jazz (urgh) and that sweet smell of…roast dinner.
I wonder if Michael Howard voted for Brexit?
Anyway, however, there was a plan to stick to, and the time we spent waiting meant that we had the #BEST table at Pedler, Peckham – a large table within an alcove, set back within the restaurant – cushions on hard wooden benches, with confused lighting and a selection of old school plates on the wall. Pedler was the epitome of quirky charm, from the fish vase, to the 40th wedding anniversary teaspoon – so many little oddities to discover. Charm personified – like when I met a vegan and told her that I sometimes only eat meat once a day – I think she was impressed.
And then the menu. It was like I’d detoxed and gone to heaven. There was surely going to be no chance of a disappointing roast in a venue that offers Yorkshire pudding and gravy for starters.
The brunch sounded amazing, the roasts sounded excellent, the starters were all so tempting (haggis fritter anyone?), the drinks sounded…oh yeah…detox. I ended up choosing a rhubarb lemonade – more interesting sounding than tasting, and finished on the bitter side – though I don’t think I’ve ever drank lemonade without vodka. I don’t yet miss beer though.
On the menu for roast dinners was pork belly for £16.00 and green tea smoked beef featherblade for £17.00. I find it very difficult to refuse pork belly, and despite having had the pork the week before, I chose it again. Wrong move, boyo. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten featherblade before – quite why I chose against trying it when I love trying new foods is another matter (yeah I know I have a roast dinner every single Sunday).
Dinner took around 20 minutes to arrive, though I wasn’t really taking notice as I was perhaps too enjoying the epic 80’s music – alas, no Bros.
Whoa is that really it? Is it Rabbit all over again?
Whoa is that all for me?
As you can see, the vegetables came piled on one large serving platter. There were 5 of us around the table – and this was an excellent way of presenting as those that wanted more vegetables than potatoes could do so, those that wanted more red cabbage could do so – and those that wanted to avoid peas, could do so with even less battle than a Theresa May reshuffle.
Where to start? Vegetables #obvs. Red cabbage, I feel. Not my favourite vegetable, but this was spot on – not too crunchy a texture, enough sweetness without being overbearingly so. It can be infuriating when restaurants give you half a plate of red cabbage to get through, so the small amount was enough to be appreciated.
I had two small sprouts. Quite tough, with a little hint of roasting/pan-frying to them – they were surrounded by evil peas so I had to be careful.
There was just a hint of some form of green cabbage – though not enough to comment upon.
Then there were some unknown white chunks – they looked similar to chunked parsnip – my working assumption was some form of squash, though on reflection it did taste a little more like beetroot. Is white beetroot a thing? An enjoyable if not compelling accompaniment.
Speaking of white things, I had a dream last night that I was wearing women’s white stockings – I think with just normal men’s shorts and t-shirt. Like this but without the suspenders, and slightly more chest hair.
Anyway, I go into a bar, and these guys start giving me grief about being “a puff”, it was quite intimidating and just as it seemed as though I was about to get beaten up (I have been machine-gunned by Mexican gangsters in previous dreams so this was quite light violence), then this super-hot Spanish women walks in and says, “he’s wearing my stockings”…I won’t tell you the rest of the dream but it had a very happy ending. The happiest dream in years.
Parsnips. There were horizontally sliced, slightly less sweet than the norm, roasted perhaps a tad too much.
The carrots were absolutely spot-on though. Succulent and juicy carrots – perfectly roasted, again horizontally sliced. Couldn’t ask for more – and there were plenty of them too.
I’ve probably missed some form of vegetable – there were I think 7 types of vegetable on offer, which is surely a Roast Dinners In London record.
The roast potatoes were a reasonable effort. Sufficient in volume, and arguably perfectly sized – not too large. A coupe of them had that “roasted some hours ago” feel to them, but overall they were fairly good affairs – quite waxy, and a tad more al dente then I’d prefer.
One of my accomplices said that the Yorkshire pudding was her best ever – though she has said that on quite a few occasions. It was very good – mine was a little limp, two of my accomplice’s had a somewhat burnt yorkie – but I was certainly happy with the batter-y taste (not battery).
Then the pork belly. Slice of pork belly. Though the small amount of meat will likely meat the approval of my temporary vegan readers, I cannot help but be slightly disappointed by portion size – especially compared to the sizeable amount of beef on my cow-devouring accomplice’s plate. That said, it was exceptionally nicely cooked – innately smoky and very moreish – not just due to the limited scope.
Finally, the gravy. Again a very thin, watery affair – with plenty of meat oils ahoy. Also, very tasty – there was even an argument that I perhaps should not have drowned my whole meal in gravy/jus but hey. Down with southerners.
My vegetarianish accomplices had the luxury of proper, thick gravy – practically a stew. I even dared to have a bite of the butternut squash tart – not quite to my tastes but they were rather effusive about its qualities, as was my cow-munching accomplice about her beef – which I really wish I had chosen.
There really was rather an over-abundance of compliment effusion at the table. Suspiciously so, because things are never that perfect.
From the moment I walked through the door, I felt at home, I had full confidence that I was going to get a very good roast dinner – I did. And I knew as soon as I sat down that I would be back – and I suspect that I will be it for brunch or maybe a Saturday night, despite the plethora of fabulous venues across London – a to-do list that never shrinks.
And I want you to go put Pedler, Peckham on your list – though given it’s popularity on a bleak Sunday in January, I would strongly advise booking in advance.
Service was also excellent throughout, and we could feel an actual affinity with our waitress. And guess what? No service charge! So given my hatred of “voluntary” service charges, I paid a 13.6% tip – making a awkward bastard point that if you don’t force me to voluntarily pay a service charge, I will tip higher – assuming the service is actually good. That’ll show them.
Yet this wasn’t one of my best roast dinners. The array of vegetables was mostly excellent – but I really thought that the quantity of pork belly was lacking, the roast potatoes should be crispier – and for my neanderthal northerness, the very tasty jus/gravy lacked anywhere near sufficient viscosity.
7.80 out of 10 is my score. I really want to score it higher – I really like the charm of this place. I do feel 7.80 is a fair score – and it is still a very good score.
In fact, I like the place so much that I did even consider a small investment in it – at the time of writing they are seeking funding to expand their brand on Crowdcube. And I think Pedler will be successful – alas I cannot comprehend how they value their business at £2.5m so to coin a phrase – I’m out…for now…though I’m going to watch the funding round as maybe more experienced investors will understand their valuation better than I do.
Sorry, just got a bit serious and needed to break it up.
I’ll be back next week if I haven’t been turned into a tree by the vegan mob. Somewhere cheap, ideally! If anyone knows anywhere other than Beefeater doing a January sale on roast dinners, let me know.