BY PALOMA LACY
Restaurant menus have become a little samey.
Hear the words British bistro and I can pretty much guess the menu, dish for dish, so it was more than refreshing to find myself at the mercy of a kitchen doing things differently.
Park’s Edge Bar & Kitchen’s location treats guests to glorious views of Brockwell Park by day, but as night had fallen by the time I arrived, I was only too pleased to make do with the striking interior of this new-ish restaurant.
It’s British at heart with a Caribbean undertone gently underlining it, a nod to the heritage of the owners.
But think again if you’re looking for West Indian classics, you won’t find jerk chicken and rice and peas here, but instead subtle inclusions of regional flavours.
The botanical theme transports the diner into another world, creating an ambience to be reckoned with, and certainly more than you’d expect from a neighbourhood eatery.
The fresco of exotic birds on the back wall draws the eye, soft lighting creates intimacy and the quirky bar area injects excitement, leaving us to wonder what the evening would bring.
You can tell just by looking at the bar that a decent cocktail is not too far away, but again, nothing run of the mill here.
For me a dark rum cocktail, made with sorrell, that fragrant herb so well used in the tropics but seldom given an airing here.
I took a peek at the menu ahead of my visit and a few dishes caught my eye, but the nightly specials were a lovely surprise.
For me, the choice was a quick and easy one, jumbo shrimp, marinated in jerk spices and served on a beurre blanc sauce, was majestic both in size and content (£8.95).
The depth of flavour throughout and panache when it came to presentation easily rivalled that of any good Central London kitchen.
My husband’s oxtail raviola (£8.95) was superbly meaty, elevating a traditionally poorer cut of meat to something rather outstanding. Fresh pasta topped off this superb dish.
The choice of starters is staggering and there wasn’t one that I couldn’t have happily eaten: pumpkin soup, jerk hummus, crab salad, all fresh and exciting options.
My main course almost took a vegan turn, lured by pan fried cauliflower, stewed peppers, coconut, date, kale and cassava, which looked as good as it sounded, from my spying on the next door table.
However, it was pipped to the post by that most un-vegan dish, pork shoulder, with stout & pecan sauce, grilled leek, apple and chunky chips (£17.50).
I made the right choice, succulent, juicy meat, and not a bit of fat in sight, teamed beautifully with the sticky sauce.
Like my main, my husband’s Dorset lamb matched the best of British with the Caribbean tones of sweet potato and callaloo (£17.95).
For dessert, we shared the ginger toffee & pear crumble, with Calvados crumble, which was hearty, warming and the boozy custard made us smile, and the cheese board, bringing together some cracking varieties including Roquefort, Comte and Montgomery Cheddar and served with crackers and a quince jelly.
Paloma was a guest of Park’s Edge Bar & Kitchen, 49 – 51 Norwood Rd, Herne Hill, London SE24 9AA.