Waiting on the platform for an overground train from Peckham Rye, the former Grade II-listed 1930s ticket office was always one of those buildings you’d press up against, trying to peer through the windows into its dusky rooms.
Sometimes there’d be a pianist knocking out a tune or two – or perhaps that was our imagination? – and often we’d speculate when it would finally become something bar-cafe like.
The inevitable answer is now. Opening this month is the Coal Rooms, a new restaurant from a collective of the locally based folk behind (deep breath) the Old Spike Roastery, Spike + Earl, Aside and coffee-based charity Change Please.
It sounds ambitious, too: there’s a 24-seater café, which transforms into a bar in the evenings, 12 counter seats around a large, sunken, open-plan kitchen, a further main restaurant space and also a private dining room. Wowsers.
The menu will make use of the restaurant’s on-site butchery, focusing on a variety of meats and unusual cuts. Head Chef Sam Bryant (Smokehouse, Princess of Shoreditch) is busy installing a robata grill and coal ovens and promises to reduce waste “creatively” in the kitchen. (For example, the restaurant’s tiramisu will be made using excess milk from the on-site café.)
On the lunch menu, expect flatbreads with pig’s cheek, xo sauce and crackling, or crab rarebit, egg yolk and samphire. By night there’ll be dry-aged duck breasts, mangalitsa cowboy steaks, roasted cod heads, and 40-day-aged Dexter sirloin and rib.
Mouth watering yet? Soon you’ll be missing the train home accidentally-on-purpose.