Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

My month in food

Stephanie Brookes, BBC Radio London food expert, offers her pick of an eating establishment for this month, Kudu in Peckham. It’s always an exciting talking point when a new, local restaurant has garnered widespread praise. An opening is generally fraught with teething problems, yet Kudu – a welcome arrival on Peckham’s restaurant scene – seems to have weathered a first year with the kind of positive reviews most restaurants spend years accumulating. It’s been a topic of local conversation and I’ve been asked on several occasions what I think of the food.

I have managed to hold off on any immediate visit as I always prefer it when the initial restaurant hype has died down; however, more than eager to get onboard with the conversation, I managed to garner a recent Friday booking at the rather early time of 6.30pm.

It was surprising to find the restaurant was already abuzz when we arrived: clearly the time wasn’t as early as initially perceived. As you enter the restaurant, you feel as though you’re walking into a private, local supper club: low lighting, intimate seating and an instantly warm, familiar greeting from staff. I did notice several walk-ins reluctantly being turned away. I would say that making a booking is an absolute must.
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Kudu - Onion Tatin
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The concept around the menu is to order a plate from each section, starting with the snacks through to the larger plates. The menu is inspired by the owner’s South African roots, with many dishes slow cooked in a traditional Potjie pot. The menu is also seasonal with ingredients directly sourced from the restaurant’s own vegetable plot and herb garden.

Inventiveness is certainly to be seen across the menu, starting with the homemade Kudu bread served with an accompaniment of seafood butter and baby shrimp. The butter is uniquely served in a hot skillet which makes a pleasant change from the usual too-hard-to-spread butter (my personal restaurant gripe); it also seemed to further enhance the flavours of the salty shrimp and the moreish tang from the fresh tarragon. It’s quite something when the humble pre-dinner bread is already a highlight of the menu.

A small plate of tangled, golden churros was presented, much to the glee of my fellow dining companions. The batter, golden in hue, was light and crisp to the bite and the cheesy Parmesan hit was the final payoff. The accompanying brown crab mayonnaise offered a sweet and creamy finish. I have already made a rather shameless Twitter plea to the restaurant to keep this item on the menu. It truly is the snack food of dreams.
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Spiced onion tatin, tallegio and garlic chives was a visually appealing dish with a burnished, sticky outer layer which had an almost toffee-like quality. Underneath, the meltingly soft onions blended with the creamy tallegio sauce and the light, buttery pastry.

The final savoury offering of Confit duck, maitake, Jerusalem artichoke and spring greens was a glorious main event: the delicately soft meat was earthy and deeply rich in flavour, further enhanced by the umami notes from the maitake. The crispy artichoke shavings, although not abound with flavour, added a contrasting texture.
I would have gladly eaten this dish again.
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Kudu - Confit Duck
It isn’t often that I find a menu where each dish perfectly hits the right note on overall balance, with a great variety of unexpected flavour combinations. It was certainly the main focus of conversation for our group that evening and I was a little disappointed when our allocated time was up: the price to pay for increasing restaurant popularity. I’m just hoping the initial hype of Kudu subsides, only for my own self-indulgent reasons.

I would happily while away many a Friday night at this local Peckham gem.
essence info
119 Queens Road, Peckham, London SE15 2EZ
Telephone: 020 3950 0226