Classy South African Comfort Food in Peckham.
Dining with two South African friends at High Timber in the City (the best place for South African wine and steak in London), I asked where else we might find good South African food. The objective – to enjoy a meal out and support the South African wine industry, which has been hard hit by government regulations connected with COVID. Well, I have no problem drinking South African wine in London – and it seemed like an excellent excuse to explore a new venue. Kudu was the suggestion of Jeanne, otherwise known as CookSister. While Peckham Rye is known as an up and coming area with plenty of bars and cafés, Peckham itself is not known as a destination dining venue. But, it’s within walking distance of home for me, so why not?
We arrived at the cosy and beautifully laid out restaurant, with an open kitchen at one end and a pretty patio garden to the rear. It was already buzzing at midday – but their weekend brunch is rightly popular with dishes like Shakshuka, Sourdough waffles or French toast babka. Mostly egg-based though, I skipped through to the main menu where the meat options for weekend lunch are all both for two people. No problem though, with two South Africans in tow, I didn’t struggle to find someone to share.
While we waited for our main courses, we ordered Farmer’s Spiced Biltong and a ‘side’ of Boerewors to nibble on. Both delicious washed down with a glass of the 2019 ‘Rosebud’ Bot River Rosé wine from Gabriëlskloof, South Africa, which was wonderfully fruity Syrah/Viognier blend. Most wines are offered by the bottle, glass or carafe – and the shortish list is around 70% South African. Well, that was our original mission so we needed to stick to the plan!
The sharing main course of onglet, hispi cabbage, enoki mushrooms and truffled potato mousse was a truly memorable dish. Nothing hugely fancy – you get a big sharing platter of perfectly cooked onglet steak and an individual dish with cabbage, the lightest and creamiest truffled potato mousse and a handful of enoki mushrooms. It looked truly appetising, with the enoki mushrooms nestling under a truffle-laced blanket of potato and the charred cabbage just waiting to partner up with the onglet.
It tasted just as good. We both wanted to lick every morsel of truffled potato mousse from the plate.
The third guest at our table ordered a Boerewors roll with egg, Padron peppers, crispy shallots and mustard. At times like this, I really want to love eggs. It was much appreciated by my South African companion and looked so much more than it sounds on paper as I hope you can see. A perfectly fried egg with soft yolk and light, lacy white topped the Boerewors – the ultimate egg and sausage sarnie!
Having been relatively well behaved with our main courses, dessert was in order. We agreed to share the salted chocolate ganache with sesame ice cream and chocolate crumble.
Gentle reader, don’t make my mistake… Order your own.
Or order a French toast babka with kumquats, hazelnuts and miso caramel from the brunch menu. It also makes a great dessert. But you need at least one for yourself. Not because the portion size is in any way mean – just because you will regret it if you don’t!
Just because we were supporting South African wines, we also ordered three glasses of dessert wine. 2016 ‘Sweet Red’ Paarl, from Fairview, South Africa was a great way to end the meal.
Now I want to go back. Although the daytime menu at weekends is concise, I know I need to try the half peri peri chicken. I need to find an excuse to try the home-cured bacon and salmon. There are some things, like the special South African bread, only served in the evenings. The food is quirky, simple and just that little bit different. Service is friendly and unpretentious. COVID distancing, despite the limited space, is done very well. Our bill divided by 3 was around £45 each – so it’s an affordable treat. I can walk home afterwards giving me an excuse to eat as much as I want…and, actually, I just want to eat there again