Formerly the site of an annual plein-air art show (run by Bold Tendencies), and home to the enduring top-floor bar sensation Frank’s Cafe (with its incomparable backdrop of the City horizon), this heretofore mostly disused car park just behind the Peckhamplex cinema is now, officially, ongoing affordable residence for business start-ups in the creative fields (fashion, design, music, film, all arts mediums, offering such facilities as dark rooms and sound rehearsal units), as well as social gathering spot for food and drinks. Five floors are designated studios and offices; the top two floors have been leased to street food vendors and one full-service restaurant (along with a spa-like yoga workspace and salon, with other businesses forthcoming). The accommodations are spacious, seating is casual (picnic tables and artfully arranged wooden bench constructions), and the bar area is rife with greenery, warm bare bulbs, accented with funky tropical print wallpaper and a mirrorball, trendy credentials all in place. The organisers are planning for a full calendar of events, including talks, forums, exhibitions, dj sets, all with an eye towards the local community, working with charities and community social support networks. Already one ramp space is generously given over to a graphic designer who has papered over the walls with a series of posters in bold typeface, each a slogan in a steadily spiralling story of empowerment and awareness, a declaration of intent.I sampled a good portion of the available brunch dishes at veggie/vegan restaurant Wild Flower, and it was with great palatable joy that I received each explosively piquant bite- the chefs provide some very novel and imaginative combinations of ingredients, a mix of raw and cooked product. A roasted (beautifully charred, in some cases) cauliflower plate with Bramley apple purée and crunchy walnuts and pickled onions was a coalescent marvel of competing flavours, a see-saw of the sweet and tangy; coconut dal was a nice balance of the sweet haze of squash and heat of sambal offset by a creamy-cool smear of yoghurt; and a small bowl of swede fondue, whirled into a paste, with pickled vegetables for dipping, and crusty pretzel rolls to sweep up the final crumbs, properly warmed the senses. There are also traditional egg choices for those who may not want to venture too far afield. The room is warmly lit, offers canteen seating, and there is plenty of natural light from a run of windows on one side of the space, affording a busy, nicely distracting view of the train line and Peckham’s other arts hub, the venerable Bussey building (and now sibling), itself a hive of cultural enterprise and food services. Along with Hackney, Peckham is presently London’s most in-vogue area, the first stop for creative colonisation.
Visit my Instagram feed for a video walk down the multi-coloured stairwell!