You know a place is good when a pal, a former SE15 resident, visited for brunch and dinner... in just one day. Granted, this was back in Pedler's first incarnation down by the common, so does the newly rebranded Pedler Good Fortune still have the same appeal that gets people coming back for more? We went to find out.
Starting as one of the early innovators of Peckham’s renowned bistro scene, Pedler opened in 2014 and quickly garnered a cult following. But in June 2021, it went on the move and teamed up with Little Bird gin founder Tim Moore to reopen as Pedler Good Fortune, boasting the same tasty dishes, quirky interiors and great service but with a new pan-Asian-inspired twist.
The first floor takes on a swish cocktail bar feel, with tropical prints, dim lighting, neon signage and velvet seating, plus on weekends there’s the occasional special guest DJ. Behind the bar is a working micro-distillery where Little Bird gin is made and bottled, adding to its unique industrial vibe. After being welcomed by the lovely waiting team, we were escorted down the spiral staircase into the dining area. Carrying on the quirky theme from upstairs, the restaurant featured retro wallpaper overlayed by neon butterflies, and cute little touches like a vintage school locker housing cutlery.
As we sat down, the table next to us explained to the waiter that this was their new favourite local haunt, so with good vibes ringing in our ears, we contemplated what to eat for dinner. We opted for the Fortunate Feast (£58), labelled as for two but reckon another could also eat handsomely. This is a pick and mix style, multi-course option where you select one dish from each section, and it's incredibly good value. But first, drinks. I kicked things off with a Long Road To Ho Chi Minh (£8), a refreshing mix of lychee liqueur, citron, lemon and prosecco. If they ever did a bottomless affair with this beverage, I’d be back there seven days a week (no lie). My partner went for the Yum Cha Old Fashioned (£8), the classic tipple reimagined, this time with pineapple rum, chrysanthemum sugar and decorated with a glace cherry. Very retro.
The restaurant was packed out by the time our dishes hit the table at 7:35pm (in record time). Our waiter advised that courses would come out in stages, freshly cooked from the kitchen. The shrimp crackers (£3) arrived first alongside the chow mein (£2), while we were blessed with tunes from the Stone Roses, The Beatles and Squeeze. Using the cracker as a scoop, we devoured the whole portion in unashamedly inelegant fashion.
Next came the goi woi (£8), gorgeous chunks of sweet potato and shiitake mushroom with a smoky miso glaze, spring onions and crispy seaweed. The little flecks of chilli gave it the right amount of heat, and each morsel was a sheer delight. My partner went for the lucky lemon frizzled chicken (£16), his favourite dish of the night. A generous portion, he remarked that this is the way Chinese food should be cooked and we need that damn recipe pronto. My best dish I hear you ask? The peanut butter tofu buns (£12). Two pillowy parcels containing squares rolled in Chinese five-spice, combined with burnt chilli mayo, sesame seeds and pickles. You won’t regret ordering these. The menu is designed to be shared but as a veggie, there's no way I’m divvying my meal with a meat-eater.
The sticky coconut rice (£2) and katsu fries (£2) arrived next, cutting through the heat from the previous dishes. The former was dusted in desiccated coconut and acted as the perfect mopper-upper for the goi woi sauce, while the chips were lathered in a tasty, spicy gravy. The headline act in this feast (and they weren’t wrong when they called it a feast) was the downtown duck (£22). An authentic taste of China, featuring soft pancakes, salted chilli hoisin, cucumbers, spring onions and not one but two types of duck. Meat fell off the bone and the slices were cooked to perfection.
Needless to say, our bellies got a proper stuffing, so we made our way upstairs to treat ourselves to some after-dinner cocktails in the distillery area. With a gin connoisseur as part of the management team, it’ll come as no surprise that the drinks are absolutely banging. The Crouching Bourbon, Hidden Rye (£8), fused Makers Mark bourbon, holy basil sugar with peach and packed a punch. We also enjoyed the Not Another Singapore Sling (£8); a summery mix of smoky mezcal and Little Bird gin with tangy lime and pineapple, finished with a little cocktail umbrella. As I sat back to admire the décor once again, I was taken back to my travels in Vietnam, with a big dollop of Peckham energy thrown in for good measure.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Pedler Good Fortune is a great little find down Queens Road, celebrating the best cuisine from across south Asia and beyond. If you’re not drawn in by the charming exterior, you will be by their seemingly endless small plates and their twists on classic cocktails. Those who went to Pedler back in the day won’t be disappointed to hear that they still also serve their renowned breakfasts, catering for both meat-eaters and veggies alike.
💰 The damage: A reasonable £90 excluding service.
📍 The location: 169 Queens Road, London, SE15 2ND. Seconds from the overground station.
👌 Perfect for: A fun date followed by a tipple or three.
⭐ Need to know: Make sure to head behind the bar for a drink in the micro-distillery.