London can be a wonderful place to live. There’s always something going on: a show to see; a new restaurant to try; a concert to attend; or a museum to explore. But it can also be a frustrating, difficult and lonely place to live with packed public transport, expensive prices, and fellow-citizens who are too rushed and too tired to make amicable small talk. Usually I don’t really notice this final point much but when I travel abroad, especially to South Africa, I am reminded how much I like the easy familiarity and propensity for small talk that I experience there and miss in London. Sometimes after a hard day, like the famous Cheers theme tune goes, you just want to go somewhere where everybody knows your name. Judging by the warm welcome I received as a first-time visitor and complete stranger when I recently visited, Anderson and Co. might just be such a place.
Anderson & Co. opened its doors in increasingly trendy Peckham in 2010 and possibly one of the reasons that you have not heard of it is that it’s not the easiest place to stumble across by accident. It’s a good 15-20 minute walk from Peckham Rye station – but an Uber is probably your best bet if you want to avoid getting lost like I did! The restaurant is named after its founder Lisa Anderson, long-time producer of the Brit Awards (1992-2004) and erstwhile manager of Geri Halliwell. After thirty years in the music industry, Anderson decided to follow her foodie passion and opened a small deli in Tenterden, Kent. In 2010 she had the opportunity to rent premises in Peckham and Anderson & Co. was born as a local café and artisan coffee shop, as the spectacular cakes and breads on sale at the bar counter confirm. After a refurbishment, Anderson & Co. has reinvented itself as an all-day bistro, meaning that alongside coffee and cake, there is also a lunch service and a dinner service from Tuesday to Saturday. Menus change every 2 weeks, giving chefs Arendt Chiverton (formerly of Quaglino’s) and & Teemu Tovainen (formerly of The Soho Hotel) ample opportunity to try new dishes and take advantage of seasonal foods.
As I said, my welcome on the night we visited Anderson & Co. was as effusive as if I were a regular and well-loved customer. The ambience is relaxed and warm, with smaller tables in the main room where the bar counter is (complete with obligatory on-trend filament bulbs) and a heated conservatory at the back with larger tables. The wall is lined with 3 framed collages of Lisa’s collection of postcards of famous artists – seeing how many artists you can identify provides perfect dinnertime banter. The dinner menu is short but satisfying with 4 options each for starters, mains and desserts, as well as a couple of burger options and some sides, all democratically priced at £3.00. The wine list is brief but well-priced and interesting – we chose a hearty bottle of Corbieres 2013 Chateau La Bastide.
To start, I chose the crab cakes with caper mayo (£5.00). The three little crab cakes were excellent – packed with crab meat rather than bulked up with potato – and deliciously crispy. I also loved the caper-heavy mayo that accompanied it. But however much I loved my dish, nothing could have prepared me for the massive menu envy I experienced when I tried a spoonful of Rosana’s chicken broth with farro and spinach (£5.00). Imagine the best chicken stock you have ever tasted, multiply it by ten and then you’re coming close: heavy with the satisfying flavor roast chicken yet light in texture, with farro and spinach to give it body. Definitely a standout dish.
For mains, Rosana chose a classic dish: onglet steak frites with béarnaise sauce and mixed leaves (£14.00). This was perfectly executed with the steak done medium rare and the chips fresh and crispy. I decided on the rack of lamb with an olive, parsley & mustard crust, white bean & anchovy puree, spinach (£16.00). If Rosana had won on the starters, I definitely feel that I won on the mains! This was a superb dish – not only was the lamb of very high quality and cooked to a perfect pinkness in its umami-rich crust, but the white bean puree was outstanding and given punchiness by the anchovy. It was a dish I could eat once a week every week of my life.
It seemed rude not to have dessert, even though the generous portions meant we were both by now pretty full. A Seville orange tart was new on the menu but as the recipe was still being perfected, the manageress suggested we might try something different (the sample we had though suggests that it will turn out to be a winner!). I found it impossible to resist the lure of the dark chocolate fondant with vanilla ice-cream (£6.00) while Rosana chose the Bakewell tart with crème fraiche (£6.00). Despite not being a huge Bakewell fan, I did enjoy the taste I had of Rosana’s as it was neither overly claggy nor overly sweet. My chocolate fondant was a plate of heaven though, packed with dark bitter chocolate flavor and suitably liquid in the centre.
I have said before that I love living in the east London – but dining at a place like Anderson & Co. makes me think I should be packing my bags and checking out property for sale in Peckham. Because unassuming, down to earth places like this that rely on their commitment to excellent, wholesome food and excellent service rather than faddish menus and celebrity clients are few and far between… and oh, how I envy the people for whom Anderson & Co is their local restaurant 😉
Cost per head: approx £45 for three courses and half a bottle of wine
Nearest station: Peckham Rye
Anderson & Co.
139 Bellenden Road
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7469 7078
DISCLOSURE: I enjoyed this meal as a guest of Anderson & Co. but received no further remuneration to write this post. I was not expected to write a positive review – all views are my own and I retain full editorial control.
If you enjoyed this post, have a look at my other restaurant reviews.
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