Frank's Campari Bar
Frank's Campari Bar

After falling in love with Frank’s on my last visit I finally managed to organise a return trip to eat my way through the menu with A and J and Housemate Number 3. I arrived early, as is my want, a settled down for a sneaky negroni under the canopy. By the time we all assembled, Frank’s was heaving. I have never seen so many interesting pairs of trousers in in my life.

Campari in hand, we perused the menu. A and J warned us that the last time they came here, most of the menu had already been eaten, the service was chaotic and the food was not that great. And so it came to pass. At 8.45pm J went off to try and place an order and came back with a waiter who announced that almost everything on the menu had sold out, although there would be some lamb ready in 30 minutes. So we ordered what they had: some olives, salad, 4 sweetcorn with smoked paprika and 2 breads.

About 15 minutes later, our food appeared, minus the olives. The salad looked like ordinary bagged mixed salad. A declared it had too much dressing, but it seemed fine to me. Perhaps the problem was that the dressing made it slippery and hard to get hold of. That’s right, we were eating the salad with our hands because they’d run out of cutlery.

The sweetcorn came liberally sprinkled with smoked paprika and salt, which I rolled mine around in some more to pick up the flavours, while Housemate Number 3 shook his vigorously to try and get some of the salt off as it was burning his lips. I think that if they’d seasoned it before coking and then brushed it with a little melted butter, it would have softened the harsher edges of the spice and salt and brought the dish together.

The bread was three slices per serving of thick, crusty bread. It may have been granary as it looked like it had flecks in but it was too dark to see and, to be honest, it just tasted like crusty bread. The sort of crusty bread you buy a loaf of at the supermarket on shopping day as a treat, with 4 loaves of white sliced for the freezer for the rest of the week. It also came with no butter, no oil, no rillettes, no vegetable pâté, no nothing.

Now, I like bread. I have what my family refers to, in whispers, as ‘a bit of a carb problem’. People get nervous about how I am going to behave when the bread basket comes round. But even I know that plain bread is prison rations. And when it is just ordinary bread, then it needs something to lift it, otherwsie it’s just a sponge for soaking up the booze.

I went up to the counter and asked if I could place a food order. A man with a weary look on his face, who had clearly stared chaos down over the course of the evening, said: ‘Sure, why not? But we don’t have much food left.’ ‘That’s OK, I just want three plates of lamb.’ His eyes lit up at an easy order.

A few minutes later we had three plates of sliced, grilled lamb and some cutlery (rather pointlessly. If you can eat salad with your hands, you can probably manage some sliced lamb). The lamb was tender, cooked to a lovely shade of pink and coated in salt. Someone had given it a vigorous seasoning rub down and had spoiled it.

I still love Frank’s. The bar is great (apart from the toilets. Take a door guard with you as other punters keep coming in and asking if you mind if they wait in there with you while you go. Well, er, yes). The view is magnificent – the sunset was fantastic the night we were there. The bar service is quick and friendly. In fact, all of the staff are nice, if occasionally overwhelmed by the sheer number of people flooding in. But as a cafe, it can’t quite make it and that makes me sad.

Frank’s closed on 30th September 2009, but reopens every summer.

Tagged with: GinLondonPeckhamPop-ups

2 Responses to Back to Frank’s, Peckham

  1. Helen says:

    I’m going here in a couple of weeks – just for drinks though, thankfully! I live a five minute walk away so its a crime I haven’t been already!

  2. ginandcrumpets says:

    5 minutes walk away – you are local to me! You definitely shouldn’t miss Frank’s. It’s a great bar and we all agreed we’d go back again for drinks (makes a change from Bar Story, doesn’t it?). Just a shame the food isn’t quite up to scratch.

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