Peckham’s feverish renaissance began in 2015, when British Vogue dispatched a team of models and photographers to a bar on top of a car park, and dedicated 16 pages of praise to this rough-edged corner of south-east London. Today, Peckham has become as common a place for Londoners to spend a Saturday afternoon- as Brooklyn has for New Yorkers or Canal Saint-Martin for Parisians. And as a result, new independent eateries, bars, galleries and co-working spaces are opening apace.
The latest addition is Coal Rooms, sister restaurant to Old Spike Roastery, Aside, Spike + Earl, and the coffee-based charity Change Please. It occupies the Grade II-listed former ticket office of Peckham Rye station, and features a sexily lit coffee shop-cum-bar out front, and a light and airy 30-cover restaurant that looks out across the railway tracks in the back.
All the bespoke ash carpentry is by local architecture firm Kennedy Woods, who are also responsible for the restoration of the space. Parquet flooring, sage green banquettes, Danish-style chairs and orb lighting look sleek against original marble fireplaces. In the middle section, 13 bar stools perch around a sunken kitchen, where chef Sam Bryant and team char grill a meaty menu of 40-day aged Dexter, slow-cooked goat and lamb and mallard, to serve alongside equally gutsy accompaniments featuring offal, and a rotation of creative vegetable side dishes and sauces.
Adjoined to this are the original station toilets, complete with original tiled floors, indoor plants, wooden lavatory seats and peeling posters warning against common Victorian ailments. For architect Chris Kennedy, the most exciting part is the private dining room; ‘It’s a vaulted space with a Victorian mosaic floor that will function as butchery and bakery in the day, before transforming into a candlelit dining space at night.’