Dead Dolls House in Peckham
Somewhere in the city lies a location with with the edge and authenticity that once lured the uber cool crowd to Dalston, Camden and Kilburn, it just needs to be found.
Enter Peckham. The latest hipster hangout, this once unfashionable spot south of the river is primed to be taken over by the bustling and the bearded. It’s the kind of transformation that often ends up nurturing a culture of “foodie” posturing and style over substance, but not here. Here a ham hock terrine was a beautifully uncomplicated affair; succulent, meaty tangles that fell perfectly across crisp slices of toasted bread. With a little tart piccalilli and watercress to cut through the richness, it was a joy to eat. Chicken wings followed suit, perfectly seasoned and moist, every last scrap of them picked from the bone with serious enthusiasm.
Meltingly soft meat was again the theme with the first of the mains. First, two gargantuan ribs, laid across each other on a wooden board and served with a fennel slaw. These were proper meat lovers’ ribs, the kind of monstrous cuts that would send most of city’s carnivores into a frenzy. Slow cooked and coated in thick, sticky layers of sauce, they yielded to the fork with sumptuous ease, every mouthful a tender delight. A medium rare ribeye was similarly well executed and just as delicious, a well seared surface concealing a thick band of pink, juicy meat that burst with flavour.
A sticky toffee pudding provided the conclusion to our meal, though this was more akin to a syrup soaked sponge cake than a pudding. Not that we were complaining: after the sheer size of those ribs, a touch of lightness was definitely appreciated. The use of creme fraiche over cream was an interesting one, and it again helped to keep the dish from being too heavy. Bizarrely though, it was one of only two desserts on the menu, the other being a cheese board. The rather limited menu works well for the other courses – better to have half a dozen great dishes than a dozen good ones – but here it was just too little choice. A second option is much needed.
Cocktails washed it all down, and were generally excellent. A pleasingly zingy Old Fashioned was enough to put a smile on our faces, and an espresso martini was decidedly clean and lacking in the over-richness that can often make other drinks of the same name something of a chore to drink.
Seeing the words “Peckham branch of the Islington member’s club” no longer elicits the same gasps of disbelief they once would have. We arrived at the The Dead Dolls House expecting to find a dressed down hipster hangout, the kind of place dominated by kilner jars, chalkboards and craft beers.
Instead, prices were reasonable, portions were remarkably generous, the atmosphere relaxed and friendly. It felt like a local pub that had been taken up several notches, rather than something that had been forced upon the area in a gentrifying makeover. From start to finish, from the service to the location to the food, the entire experience was a perfect reminder that sometimes simplicity can still be full of surprises.★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Daniel Donovan
To book a table at the Dead Dolls House, 1 Clayton Road London SE15 5JA, call 0207 732 2691 or visit here.