So the boss goes off to swan around South America for months on end, but the orders come through from Bogota nevertheless, “East Dulwich – more about East Dulwich”. Obviously the happening place. As chance would have it I get a call soon after from Geoff n’ Max, ex-Peckhamites, now residing in Wiltshire. “In town for a few days, booked a table for six at the Palmerston 8 o’clock Monday, see you there”. Now these two introduced me to Ganapati and the Begging Bowl, two of Peckham’s finest, so experience has taught me that this couple know their food – where they lead I follow.
The Palmerston – what’s in a name? Well quite a lot actually. Lord Palmerston was one of the most important politicians in British history. For many years Foreign Secretary and twice Prime Minister at the height of the British Empire in the mid 19th century, the term ‘gunboat diplomacy’ was coined to describe his aggressive foreign policy. The Victorians thought nothing about naming a pub after a politician. Can you imagine it today – “see you down the Maggie Thatcher” or “had a fantastic dinner in the Tony Blair”. No – ridiculous.
In we went to find a cosy bar, wood panelling, stripped furniture – through the back to the dining area, a huge open fire, more wood panelling, big mirrors – a very retro feel. Food by Jamie Younger and Rob Willcox is modern British with a European twist, or maybe vice versa. We skip the starters (oysters, mussels, sausage, smoked salmon etc) and go straight for the mains. (Christmas had taken its toll and maybe we were feeling slightly heavier than we were a few weeks ago). The speciality is meat, grilled or roast, with two varieties of fish and a risotto for vegetarians. So two grilled saddleback pork chops, two fillets of sea bass, two risotto and bottles of Viognier are ordered.
The food arrives but not all together. “Please start” “No, no we’ll wait” etc. Annoying. Anyway the food is delicious, good risotto, the sea bass perfectly cooked and the pork chops succulent and flavoursome. The pork is sourced from a farm in Cumbria, apparently, and the chop is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. I see meat on other diners’ tables that looks good too: shoulder of lamb, rib eye steak, venison – it’s a meat eaters’ paradise. How about this for their piece de resistance for two – Grilled Galloway Cote de Boeuf with fondant potatoes, duxelle and grelot onions in a white wine sauce – has that got your taste buds working? Going back for some of that.
We delved into the puds, sticky toffee for them and for me Xmas pud – well, it was still within the twelve days of Christmas. There was an explosion of taste in my mouth as the rum custard kicked in – wow! Sticky toffees were very good too. So the bill comes and is around £40 per head – not bad bearing in mind the quality.
The Palmerston is a relaxed and informal gastropub serving high quality food. It’s very popular and booking is advised. If you love your meat, you should try this place.
The Palmerston, 91 Lordship Lane, SE22 8EP