I knew I’d love the food at Peckham Bazaar. I’d read effusive praise in all the right places, and even on the approach the outdoor kitchen’s grill smelt so good that I’d probably have snacked on the coals if they’d been on the menu. The place has a lovely atmosphere, too, decorated sparsely and casually as if it’s the living space of someone’s holiday home, and full of civilised people having interesting conversations.
And the food really was extraordinarily delicious. Among the starters every garnish and sauce added something interesting, unassuming looking lentil fritters were packed with flavour, and soft squid was given extra bite thanks to crisp edges from the fire. My rabbit, potato and prune stew was incredible; I don’t have any idea what went into the making of it to make it taste so great. The sauce was thickly savoury to match the saltiness of the soft, waxy little potatoes and compliment the sweetness of the prunes, and the rabbit was juicy, tender and gamey.
But all this was near ruined, because what had seemed like the most charming service when we arrived turned out to be rather fake as we were hurried out. I have no problem with turning tables; I don’t think it’s necessary if you have a good restaurant manager, but I can see that giving customers a time limit makes life a lot easier. But if you are going to limit spending times, you need to tell your customers when they make the reservation, and more importantly you need to be able to serve the tables everything they could want to eat in the time you’ve restricted them to.
Peckham Bazaar didn’t mention that we only had two hours until we sat down. And then didn’t clear our starters until we flagged someone down for more wine, and then didn’t bring our mains for another 20 minutes, and then didn’t clear those plates until five minutes before our time was up. And rather than getting an apology for the fact that we weren’t going to have time for the cheese we’d had our eye on, we were told we ‘really did have to go now’, and when talking amongst ourselves while getting our coats on about whether to wait in the little queue for the toilet, we were interrupted snidely with ‘they’re not actually waiting for the toilet, they’re waiting for you‘.
Even if we had been rude, and demanding, and complained about the time limit (none of which we did, obviously), that sort of attitude is inexcusable. I hope to eat Peckham Bazaar’s food again, but it might be a while before I’ll be able to bury my principles on good service and be polite to the person who served us. But if they can fake it, maybe I can too.
119 Consort Rd, SE15 3RU, 0207 732 2525