The Venue: Pedler, 58 Peckham Rye, London, SE15 4JR ·
The Sunday Dinner: Beef
The Price: 18. Yep. Written like that too. One point deducted on the strength of that alone. Three further points deducted for charging ’18’ in the first place.
Good evening. Welcome to the first edition of The Sunday Dinner Diaries – my quest to find a decent Sunday dinner, at a reasonable price, with an acceptable gravy taste and consistency. That’s literally all I’m after. It’s really not too much to ask.
Each venue I visit starts with 33 points, which get whittled down as I pounce upon every opportunity to be annoyed and/or dismissive. It’s just my way.
You’ll see our first venue has already lost itself four marks. I don’t mess about. Sometimes my reasons are valid – pepper doesn’t come out of the grinder with ease. At other times, less so – Mr Jus says something that irritates me. And that’s not really the venue’s fault. But it’s not mine either. Let us begin.
A is for Ambience
A more positive reviewer, 15 years younger than I, might say Pedler was vibrant, popular, had a buzz about it, and was the place to be in the neighbourhood. I’d go for cramped and a bit noisy. The tables just aren’t big enough. You’re also far too close to other customers. which made me uneasy. I knew that Mr Jus and I would probably speak about the new bathroom. People would hear us and conclude that we were boring cunts. I didn’t want that. The thought depressed me.
However, when ‘You Can Call Me Al’ came on, I instantly felt 45% cheerier. I heard a man with a hipster beard, braces, turned up jeans, loafers and no socks say something about his sourdough being “super-tasty” and I just let it go.
We kicked off with a Bloody Mary, although we were in bed by 9.30pm the night before, watching a crime drama. I hoped the youngsters we were penned in by thought that we were hungover and suffering. That we were just as cool as they were. I hoped they didn’t twig that we only looked that way because we’re in our forties, and trapped in a loveless relationship, which is draining both of our souls.
Here’s the drink:
Now then. It tasted half decent. Nicely spiced.I had a Bloody Mary in a Wetherspoon in Leamington Spa once. They didn’t have any Worcester sauce. Or tabasco. So this was a step up. But it came in a jam jar, which can’t be swept under the carpet. It’s a four point loss. The addition of horseradish shavings seemed a nice touch at first, but they soon got on my wick, in my teeth, and trapped in the back of my throat. The eagle-eyed among you will note that I’d started to build a small pile of them on the table.
Total points remaining after round one: 25
B is for Beef
We both had beef. As the heading suggests. But we also HAD beef. For some reason, bearing in mind the dolls’ house sized table, they decided to serve our main meals as a sharing platter. We were given a plate each, and then out came another plate containing a slab of meat, sat atop a mountain of spuds and veg. I suppose it was meant to appear rustic, but it just looked shit. We played a quick game of table Tetris to find it a resting place, but there wasn’t enough elbow room to start cutting meat, apportion vegetables and blame, so Mr Jus asked if they could take it away and plate it up separately. It felt a bit weird, because it was like we were toddlers, asking for our food to be cut up for us. I felt a bit stressed about the fuss he made, but also relieved –mainly as it meant that I’d probably get closer to an equal amount of food. Word of warning. You have to keep your eyes peeled when you’re out with Mr Jus. He prone to taking things off my plate when I haven’t finished eating, you see. He has a misguided belief that he has an entitlement to a third of my serving. He acts like it’s ok if I eat all of my food, but I can see that underneath it all, he’s struggling to comprehend what has just happened and isn’t happy. Here’s the Sunday dinner again:
It looks reasonably good, doesn’t it? Strong Yorkshire pudding. Ample portion size. But there were flaws. Although the beef was delicious, my piece was made up of around 40% fat. I mistook a chunk of it for a roast potato at one point, which, while not wanting to sound dramatic, was like having my heart ripped out and shat on.
But let’s cut to the gravy. It was a sore disappointment. Thinner than my hair. And that’s saying something. Yes, they’d done something a bit fancy with it. But I couldn’t put my finger on what that was. It wasn’t completely bland, but it wasn’t really gravy, either. It didn’t help that the extra gravy (a request I make with every Sunday dinner order) was, I’m afraid, served in a tea cup. It made pouring clumsy and I want to pour my gravy with power and panache. I want people to think: “Oh, she’s confident with her gravy. Knows what she wants. She looks quite the connoisseur.” It’s not going to happen when people give me crap tools to work with.
Total points remaining after round two: 18
C is for Conversation and Conclusion
In terms of company, the combination of Mr Jus’ cough and broken ribs, meant that he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. He was hardly the life and soul of the party, the poor lamb. He sat there across from me, like a wizened Sid James, looking close to the end. At one point, I thought he was going to pass away, and considered snaffling his Yorkshire.
The meal was average and expensive with it – don’t get me wrong, the vegetables were plentiful and decent – but I was generally underwhelmed. What did impress me, however, was the service. The staff at Pedler are great. Nothing is too much trouble. They provide a seamless, almost choreographed service, where there’s always someone on hand to glide in and deal with your latest need. I couldn’t fault them. But then the bill came. IN A FUCKING TOBACCO TIN. This caused three points to immediately disappear. Just like that. Too twee for me.
Incidentally, we didn’t even have a buttered rum cake.
Final score: 14/33