Alice and I arranged to meet up on Sunday. She lives up east, so jetted down on the new East London line, and we made our way to Frank's Campari Bar. For those of you with your ears and eyes shut, this is Peckham's hippest hangout, masterminded by the lovely Frank (derrr!) I met Frank a few years ago outside Kings Cross station. And he hasn't changed a bit. He is polite and passionate about his projects and has a dangerous glint in his eye. I imagine girls fall for him left, right and center.
But the bar. It's rough and up on top of the Peckham multistory. Basically, you wouldn't imagine there's anything up there. As you walk round and round, escalating your way up, installations and noises and bits of art confuse you, along with the smell or acrid urine. And then, with the sounds of a choir of Hallelujahs in your head, you see the bar. Bold and red with aprons drying over the roof top, you can see the whole of London from here. Who would have thought it? We found our spot, and ordered from a menu that might seem a little plain. But I know Frank, and know he is a purveyor of all things tasty, having been brought up among the Portuguese cafes of Stockwell.
Naturally we ordered the moniker drink, campari, which was offered in a number of forms. We opted for something a bit breakfasty, with orange juice, which is just how I love it. The detail was that we didn't just get these, we got a lovely caraffe of water too. These are the things that make a meal special. It's the extra mile. Nothing fancy, but it just shows that they are thinking.
So apart from a killer view, and a great breakfast cocktail, we ordered tomatoes on toast, two sausages and a grilled mackerel with a fennel, orange and chicory salad. Most of the items on the menu are sort of plain and small. Think of it like a British fusion tapas and you will get your head around it. It seems odd to be ordering just sausages. But look at them! They were fat, wide and absolutely delicious. And the tomatoes on toast, again plain and potentially boring, were sweet and tart and swimming in their juices and oil. The bread (chewy sourdough) mopped it all up and was spiked with garlic and thyme. When things are simple, you want them to be simply effective. And these dishes definitely were. Added proof, as if we needed it, that good ingredients, when they are good, make for the best food. The last dish that arrived was the Mackerel. Grilled up on the roof and served with this delicate aniseedy salad, it was perfect. The presentation wasn't much, but that's the whole point. It's just good food, not tarted around with. My only reservation, which is a lazy one, is that whole fish are a bit of a pain to eat, because you've got all that boning business.
Alice and I were so immersed in the delights of Frank's that we didn't notice the scorching going on. We left with Lobster backs and happy bellies. And that small and lovely adrenaline rush, which comes of a wholly satisfying experience. Bravo Frank! But don't tell everyone. Because I love my Peckham, just the way it is.