Never mind ‘worth the detour’, as most guides would state – these neighbourhood haunts are destinations in themselves. Locals love them and there are plenty of reasons why you might too.
African comfort food kicked up a gear, via the European small plates method of dispense. That means chicken liver parfait with leek ash crackers, or braai (fire-grilled) lamb neck with smoked yoghurt. A year in the making, Kudu is proof that it doesn’t take long for a good restaurant to be firmly embraced by local eaters.
Sequel to Peckham’s Artusi, Marcella brings soothing Italian, no-BS, and not-just-pasta dishes to Deptford. All complemented by Italian wines, cocktails and beer from nearby Villages brewery. Three-course Sunday lunches, at £20pp, are a heck of a steal.
Housed in an eight-sided Grade II listed building in Woolwich, Con Gusto have done remarkable things with the quirky space. A menu of all-Italian comforts, including handmade pappardelle with beef ragu, roasted lamb rump with aubergine parmigiana, and affogato. As per the name, everything’s served ‘with pleasure’.
What else would you call your little restaurant in the middle of a park? A spud’s throw from London Bridge and the hustle and bustle contained within, Pique-Nique is a quiet and calming refuge from the beaten track. Their substantial croque monsieur is worthy of a trip on its own.
Pizza comes under so many different names in south east London, from Mamma Dough’s crispy John O’Goat to Theo’s queue-worthy Bufalina. None do it quite like 400 Rabbits, though, with their collaborations with London producers (their bone marrow and wild garlic number, with Up In My Grill, a highlight), and an impressive beer list including names like Burning Sky and Verdant.
A beloved neighbourhood haunt on Dulwich’s food-centric Lordship Lane (which also includes the excellent cheesemongers, butchers, weekend lunch market, and Franklins-owned farm shop), Franklins has been going since the late nineties. Locals find it hasn’t changed all that much and that’s exactly how they like it.
Copper & Ink
Moustachioed MasterChef finalist turned MasterChef judge Tony Rodd leads this new but well received (and much needed) operation in Blackheath. You’ve got white-gloved server type restaurants, and you’ve got local boltholes. Copper & Ink sits right in the middle. Weekday lunch weighs in at a very reasonable £16.
Babur came to life in 1985, concerned about matching Indian cuisine – to use a broad term – with world wines. Here you’ll find dishes like Bengali mustard king prawns, Lucknowi chicken biryani, and wild mushroom and pea dosa.
The Camberwell Arms
Hailing from the Modern But Also Kind Of Traditional British school of thought, the team at The Camberwell Arms make more or less everything themselves, whether it’s the charcuterie or the white chocolate and cardamom ice cream. A proper gastropub – if, this being 2019, you’ll excuse the use of the word – and a go-to for traditional Sunday lunch.
Peckham – a major culinary draw in these parts – keeps getting better and better. Its newest addition comes in the form of a neo-bistro with an emphasis on European (especially French) hits, including the traditional apple tarte tatin, and the not-so-traditional Comté fries.
This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.