- Food & Drink
Nunhead high street
Until Monday night, I hadn’t realised how much I love where I live. I knew I liked it here – that I wanted to live in Peckham/Nunhead – but I hadn’t really delved into the soppy, emotional side of things.
When I came back from Ireland last year, I felt lost in London for the first few weeks. I started to think that my time as a Londoner must be up. Then, at a loose end, I wandered down Rye Lane and my heart began to knock. The foolish smile of a traveler who’s made it home crept across my face. This, I realised, is where I belong.
I found a home 8 minutes walk from Rye Lane and 2 minutes from Evelina Road – what I think of as Nunhead High Street. And as soon as I saw the high street, I knew I had to live close by it.
It has everything a high street is supposed to have – butchers, baker, greengrocer, fishmonger, pubs, even a funeral parlour. Nunhead has side-stepped the 21st century’s hollowing out of the high street and carved out a community in the middle of London’s rush and noise.
On Monday night, I stood on my street and watched the smoke heave itself up over the rooftops. The anger and the fear I felt didn’t make me want to run. It made me want to dig myself in. To sink my toes under the paving slabs and curl my fingers around the bricks in the walls. I belong here and I want to be an active, vocal part of it, rather than loving it secretly and at a distance.
So this is my high street and these are the places I love.
Crossway Cafe, 93 Evelina Road
This is my local greasy spoon and for a hangover-killing breakfast there’s nowhere better. Sausage, bacon, egg, chips and beans, 2 doorstep slices of crusty white bread and a mug of tea strong enough to dissolve teaspoons – perfect.
Spices, 91 Evelina Road, 020 7277 6000
A wonderful Indian take-away that does a mean sag paneer. It has all the usual staples, plus a page of chef and house specials. I like the green chilli chicken masala.
Rudds, 121 Evelina Road
A traditional greengrocers and fruitiers, they do a good range of British basics. They’re my stable foundation onto which I heap the global treasures I find on Rye Lane.
Ayres The Bakers, 131-133 Evelina Road
Ayres is my local bakers and I adore them. They open at 6am and sell the breads that modern, artisan bakeries normally ditch in favour of fougasse and focaccia – farmhouse, split tin, crusty rolls, baps and French stick (and they do also make some of those fancy breads, too). There are trays of bread pudding, baskets of jam doughnuts and a hot counter with sausage rolls. They also sell flour and fresh yeast.
FC Soper, 141 Evelina Road
One of the best fishmongers in London, Sopers is open six days a week and they have the most fantastic selection of fish and seafood. The service is brilliant and they’re always ready with advice on cooking and storing the fish.
P&J Bakers / Naz the butcher, 147 Evelina Road
The faded sign still says P&J Bakers but locally this is known as Naz the butchers after, er, Naz the butcher who runs it. He sells free range pork and chicken, Scottish beef and makes his own Sicilian sausages.
Astar Fish Bar, 98 Evelina Road
The local fisn’n’chip shop, also able to satisfy your kebab and fried chicken needs. I like them for the occasional chippy tea, although I wish they did cans of shandy. A chippy tea isn’t complete without a can of shandy.
Nunhead Express, 2 Kirkwood Road
Our 24 hour shop. I’ve been there at 2 in the morning buying a sandwich and crisps, gone on Sunday afternoon to get tea and biscuits and called in after work for 1 onion and some freezer bags. They sell everything, from probiotic yogurt and flat peaches to tubs of marge and cans of cider. A high street essential.
Old Nun’s Head, 15 Nunhead Green, and The Pyrotechnists Arms, 39 Nunhead Green
There are two pubs in Nunhead I go to for different reasons. The Pyrotechnists is an Irish pub, with plaster saints under the optics and racing on the TV, that reminds me of pubs when I was growing up. The Old Nun’s Head is my aspirational pub, where I go for houmous and pitta and a nice glass of Rioja. They have quizzes, spoken word nights, table tennis and real ale festivals. What more could you want?