Either stocks of filament bulbs and vintage school chairs are running low or a restaurant revolution is kicking off in Forest Hill. Giving the whole chalkboards and bare-brick schtick a refreshingly wide berth, The Perryvale is a smart, stylish bistro with a proper sense of occasion, occupying a small unit beneath a modern flat block.
Service is chipper and considerate touches abound – beer, all sourced from south-east London, comes in a chilled glass. While waiting for our table we tried a zesty, wheaty saison from Brew By Numbers at the small bar, and later Kernel Brewery’s aromatic Table Beer.
The food was average on our visit, with no one dish stealing the show. The pickled cucumber accompanying a dish of seared mackerel was too soft and vinegary to cut through the fatty fish, a steak ordered rare was nowhere near and a dessert of lemon tart came topped with powdery, brittle meringue. Even the crisp, skin-on fries lacked seasoning. Less showy dishes fared better – a cheeseburger and chips was as good as you’d get at the classier chains and – at £9.50 – cheaper than most of them, too.
Forest Hill folk should definitely investigate – it was still early days on our visit – but a lack of flair in the kitchen means anyone without an SE23 postcode may as well stay closer to home, even if that does mean slumming it with the same old shabby chic decor.