Petitou, Peckham

Pain au Chocolat

Pain au Chocolat

Sometimes on Fridays I have a day of working from home.  As I am spared the 45-minute commute from East Dulwich to Portland Place, I allow myself a bit of extra time for a leisurely breakfast.  South east London has a myriad of breakfast options from little backstreet cafes that bake their own bread and serve excellent coffee, to acclaimed restaurants with gourmet, and well-priced morning menus.  As all of London seems to go out for breakfast and brunch at the weekend, a day off in the week is a gem of an opportunity to sample these places when they are at their quietest.

I first discovered Petitou a couple of years ago.  I was having a particularly stressful morning trying to shop on Rye Lane for last minute essentials for a trip to Australia, flying later that afternoon.  Almost on my knees from balancing shopping bags, trying to find Australian dollars and taking a barrage of work calls, I needed a coffee and there it was.  Two espressos and some homemade crumpets with Marmite later and I was good as new.  Petitou is a lovely little cafe on the backstreets of Peckham, just off of Bellenden Road.  In the summer, you can sit out on their mosaic-tiled terrace and people-watch and in the winter, the windows completely steam up to create a warm cave, cut off from the world.  Theirs is not an extensive menu, but has enough small and large dishes to satisfy the needs of their diners.

Scrambled eggs and ham on toast

Scrambled eggs and ham on toast

The breakfast menu has a selection of pastries and bread options, including the aforementioned crumpets – so good I had to mention them again.  We shared a pain au chocolat, that was fresh and warm with a decent amount of chocolate inside.  We also ordered scrambled eggs and ham on toast – you can subsitute the ham for other items, including smoked salmon if you wish.  The ham was sourced from the excellent local butcher, Flock and Herd, and had a subtle smoky flavour and a tender texture that didn’t even require a knife to cut through it.  You could just gently flake it with your fork.  The eggs were creamy and flecked with chive and the toast hearty with a good amount of butter.  We also drank rather a lot of tea.

I intend to go for lunch very soon, the salads on their website look fantastic.

Petitou, 63 Choumert Road, Peckham SE15 4AR.

Petitou on Urbanspoon


Burger League: Tommi’s Burger Joint

Burger with cheese and bacon and fries

The Restaurant:  Tommi’s Burger Joint, 30 Thayer Street, London W1U 2QP

The Hungry Ones:

Left to Right: Gemma (The Boozy Rouge), Claire (Queen of the BBQ)

Left to Right: Gemma (The Boozy Rouge), Claire (Queen of the BBQ)

Gemma and Claire ordered: Burger with cheese and bacon, fries, Diet Coke

The Scores:

I am never happier than when I find a good lunch spot within walking distance of my office.  As I am a fast walker and happy to cover long distances this thankfully covers swathes of Soho, Marylebone and Fitzrovia, which have an abundance of restaurants and cafes on every street.  When there is a burger on sale at any of these establishments, I am even happier, for who does not love to spend an afternoon at their desk happily full?  I have been trying to get over to Tommi’s Burger Joint for ages, not least because I was so intrigued by the concept of an Icelandic burger restaurant.  They initially started as a pop-up following the success of several sites in Reykjavik, and within months moved to a permanent site on a busy Marylebone intersection.  My knowledge of Icelandic food is limited to a trip I took there in the winter of 2010. The sushi was good, the pizza excellent, the hakarl more than a little smelly and the sheep heads in the supermarket freezer sections, terrifying.  Being in my last year of University, I had not the means to try other delicacies such as whale and puffin – Iceland is an expensive place, even after the financial crash they suffered a few years ago.  Luckily, my lunch buddy Claire lived in Reykjavik for a while, so has a far more extensive knowledge than I.

There is no fermented shark meat or pickled fish at Tommi’s Burger Joint, in fact the menu barely sets it apart from other London burger joints, but in such a crowded market, that is probably just as well.  It is one of those grab-a-seat-and-order-at-the-counter places and with no front of house direction, there a lot of frantic eye-darting among competing groups looking for a table.  Luckily, there were only two of us and we managed to grab a seat within minutes.  Most people in the restaurant seemed to be opting for the lunch deal, which is a burger, fries and a can of soda for £9.90.  You can then pick your optional extras from a list – I went for cheese, bacon and a little pot of bernaise sauce.  There was something about adding bernaise sauce to a burger that had me salivating all morning.  Speaking of sauces, one of the best features of Tommi’s Burger Joint is their array of free sauces and toppings that you can just go and help yourself to.  Like kids in a toy shop, we filled up the little plastic pots with onion chutney, ketchup, BBQ sauce, pickles (YES), jalapenos and ‘cronions’.  If you have not had the pleasure, cronions are little freeze-dried pieces of onion that look a little like croutons.  Icelanders love them as they top the wieners at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, Reykjavik’s most popular hotdog stand , who count US President Bill Clinton among their die-hard fans.

The wonderful help-yourself-to-stuff bar

The wonderful help-yourself-to-stuff bar

The burger itself was very good and ticked all of the boxes: soft brioche bun, flavoursome patty cooked medium-rare and crispy bacon on top.  A little spread of the bernaise sauce made it extra special.  Unfortunately, the fries were another story.  Did you ever play Theme Park when you were a kid?  I actually didn’t (I was always terrible at computer games), but I can recall it well.  For those of you that didn’t grow up in the mid-90s, Theme Park is a little piece of genius where you design and grow your own theme park with the sole intention of making money.  It was a little bit like Transport Tycoon but more fun.  One of the most tried-and-tested ways of making money was to increase the amount of salt added to the fries.  In doing this, you would make your virtual punters so thirsty that they would spend more money on drinks.  Simple, huh?  I think that *might* be what has happened at Tommi’s Burger Joint, as the fries were the saltiest I had ever tasted.  In fact, the Theme Park comparison came from Claire who said that she hadn’t given the game a second thought in at least a decade until trying those fries.  Seriously, when I left, my lips were like raisins.  And I did buy extra drinks in the office that afternoon.

Tommi's Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

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