As a longstanding Only Fools and Horses fan, imagine my delight when I walked into The White Horse in Peckham and saw what looked and sounded like Del Boy and his mates enjoying a Friday afternoon snifter?
This old school group of middle aged men was larger than life and it was rather heart-warming to see the old face of Peckham ever present.
You see, Peckham remains a place of two halves, the old guard that’s been there forever, and the new, bringing change with them.
The new at The White Horse couldn’t have been any newer, with more than a handful of babies counted, joining mum and dad for lunch.
Traditional pub grub has long gone, which seems a shame, given we’re in pie & mash heartland. However, making way for Babber, an exceptional medley of cuisine, taking in the very best of the Eastern Mediterranean for the most part, is a very good replacement.
Are you thinking, ‘what’s the meaning of Babber?’ I thought you might be.
According to our friendly barman, Flav, it’s a term of endearment, popular in the West Country.
A quick Google search confirms that Bristolians are fans of this cutesy term
meaning baby. A wild guess would be that one of the owners of Babber may well hail from this part of the UK.
Dining with a friend, the menu fitted the bill perfectly, starting with a few small plates for us to share, while exchanging varying pitched yummy noises.
Lucy is a something of a foodie, with five dinner parties scheduled in before Christmas, and each one themed for full impact. We chatted about what we like about the dishes, with great ease.
We both love halloumi so we were on to a winner straight away, with chargrilled slabs presented before us (£6).
A drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of pomegranate seeds lifted this humble cheese to stratospheric proportions. I liked it hugely but it left me thinking: “More please.”
Two more small plates completed our starter course – baba ghanoush, feta, sumac, flatbread (£6.50).
The inclusion of feta was most welcome. To add some greenery, purple sprouting broccoli, labneh, za’atar (£6.50) was duly ordered.
Chargrilled broccoli somehow adds sweetness. I could have forgone the labneh as a cheese hit of feta in the previous dish was sufficient.
It was interesting to see a couple of nods to other areas of the globe, in particular India (onion bhajis) and the Caribbean (Scotch Bonnet chicken wings, blue cheese yoghurt).
Unsurprisingly, the menu centres around a charcoal grill, with proper kebabs as the main event, all served with home-made flat bread.
The chef confided that knocking so many out on a daily basis was proving a little time consuming, but having given diners such a perfect product, he’d reached the point of no return.
More than one customer had confirmed their return was in part down to the bread. But that can’t be all, the kebabs are staggeringly good.
Chicken thighs, always the tastiest cut, harissa mayo, red cabbage, apricot relish – this kebab was utterly delicious and just £10, which came as a surprise.
The standard of cooking and inventive nature of the dishes is such that you would expect the price point to be a bit higher. Lamb kofte, pork neck, and aubergine donner provided choice to suit all palates.
A few chips never goes a miss, alongside a kebab. These came fully loaded, with
pickled peppers, of which I’m a fan, and curiously hummus.
Chef endorsed the dish and Lucy loved them. Me, not so much. I love hummus but with any kind of bread. However, these were proper chips so brownie points there.
A Greek salad completed lunch but there were so many other dishes that I’ll have to save for another time.
One is particular that caught my eye: harissa roasted cauliflower, hummus, tahini, pickled chilli, pomegranate and almonds (£11.50) sounded like a fine accompaniment for two to share, with a kebab.
Paloma was a guest of Babber. 20-22 Peckham Rye, Peckham, SE15 4JR. Call 020 7639 1459.