Adrian Hernandez Farina joined Peckham’s Coal Rooms as a chef late last year (after working at Hawksmoor, Temper, Breddos Tacos and Smokestak), but the lockdown meant there wasn’t a lot of chance to check out his food. Now the restaurant is back with more spaced tables and a brand new chef’s tasting menu that makes good use of Coal Rooms’ bespoke grill and charcoal oven.
The five-course menu begins with bread served with soft butter, chicken liver mousse and mackerel pate – a plate in between would be enough but they give you two buns per person so you know it’s the kind of place where you’ll be well fed. It’s quickly followed by a pork cheek croquette, which comes over a spicy lacto-fermented red pepper sauce and covered with a blanket of Parmesan.
The first of the two small fish dishes is the sea bass tartare with fig oil and the jalapeno granita; it’s cold, tangy, fresh and it’s a great cleanser for the palate before moving on to the main course. You have a choice of two dishes here; Grilled monkfish with brown butter dashi and fermented gooseberries or 28-day ex-dairy Sussex sirloin with XO mushrooms, celery root and grilled onion. We opted for the latter and weren’t disappointed, with a velvety mashed celery and a real touch of flavor from the XO sauce.
The other fish dish is a crispy coated langoustine lollipop with guanciale and lobster mayonnaise. It’s basically like a classy piece of langoustine and it’s more or less tastier – a bunch of these and with a glass of cold wine and you’d be really, really happy.
Dessert is where things get really interesting. It’s a burnt marshmallow topped with a granita of lacto-fermented apricot and Parmesan. Yes, frozen cheese. The marshmallow itself is sweet but the other ingredients add real salty notes, and the burnt parts of the mallow taste like the charred bits you get on a pizza crust. Staff reported receiving a 50/50 response; we were firmly in the yes camp.
Not only is the food at Coal Rooms good value for the quality of the food (£ 48 for the meat and £ 38 for the veg tasting menu), there is just such an atmosphere in the restaurant – if you have been hesitant to eat out again this place will remind you why it is worth it.
11a Station Way, London SE15 4RX