Please note, Aside is closed until further notice. Time Out Food editors, March 2019.
Yeah, Aside is yet another new opening from the bods behind Peckham’s Old Spike Roastery. But with their track record (see Spike + Earl in Camberwell, and the awesome Coal Rooms by Peckham Rye station), who’s complaining? Not me.
This one is attached to the Assembly Point gallery, up near Peckham’s modernist library. It’s a lovely room, with swathes of light wood, an open kitchen counter strewn with vegetables (like a classic still life through an Ikea filter) and designer tables with little shelves underneath for menus, cutlery and napkins. It’s got a makeshift vibe, but one that’s far more hygge than hacked together.
The food: modern European small plates. No surprises there. I ordered the entire menu and it was almost all fantastic. Some plates were exercises in canny shopping: chunks of bull’s heart tomato sloshed with herby lovage oil and an excellent burrata, served with chunks of just-ripe peach, for example.
But the cooking proper was genuinely fab, and endlessly refined. There was a fresh, fiery little dish of thick-cut homemade kimchi, and a pile of delica pumpkin, roasted so its flavour was almost caramel. It was a warming, autumnal plate. Even better, charred sweetcorn, tossed with chanterelles and bitter radicchio leaves. Stirling bonfire food, though it needed a dribble more creamy sauce.
Highlights? I’ll pick three. One: ‘chopped belted Galloway & charcoal oil’ was a superlative steak tartare. The oil imparted a little gutsy smokiness and the whole lot was topped with peppery nasturtium leaves.
Second, an off-menu side of confit potatoes. Paper-thin slices were pressed into a block and deep fried; the frayed edges crisp, the insides meltingly soft but densely textured. They were quite insanely delicious, even without the splodge of romance-killing aioli.
Finally, a dish of ‘hake, ratte potato and sea purslane’. It was the best plate of fish I’ve had in London this year (maybe ever): a perfectly cooked hunk of white meat on creamy, puréed potatoes, with a nobble of charred fennel for a lighter aniseed note and sea purslane (a kind of marsh-growing shrub) powdered and sprinkled on top. It was stupendous.
In most other parts of Zone 2, a spot this good would be an anomaly. In Camberwell and Peckham, it’s just another triumph to add to the pile. Still, it’s hard to see this style of cleanly refined cooking being bested round here soon. SE15, you are blessed.