From strawberries at Wimbledon to getting sunburnt on that one hot day of the year via a whole lot of rain, the British summer comes with many traditions. One of London’s newest is the annual arrival of Frank’s Café and Campari Bar atop a multi-storey car park in Peckham.
Now in its fifth year, I remember visiting when it debuted. I was unfamiliar with the oh-so-urban area of SE15 and quite unsure how to find this elusive 10th floor restaurant.
From much of the city, getting to Peckham can be a bit of a trek, and it’s made more of an effort when greeted with the tang of a urine-smelling lift on arrival, before realising that it only goes up to floor six.
Nonetheless, the mission is made somewhat more interesting by the Bold Tendencies sculpture project which has decorated the route from floors six to 10 with installations.
In 2012, perhaps due to some fairly high-profile sporting malarkey going on in the city, Frank’s has received rather less attention than usual.
All the components are very much present and correct, though it’s no longer only London’s cool artistic élite who attend – the focus has shifted to the foodies instead.
Indeed the Frank’s food team has quite some pedigree, as Michael Davies and the eponymous Frank Boxer met while working at The Cut’s trendy Anchor & Hope gastropub, widely considered to be London’s best. Simple is the word for what’s on offer, with the emphasis on great, seasonal produce cooked to order on the grill.
There’s a strong argument to say that if the food here doesn’t seem as dynamic as it once was, that’s because it’s been copied across London, as has the pop-up concept.
But this isn’t the place for arguments. With Negronis in hand, one of London’s most incredible views in front of you and a quiet knowledge that just being on this rooftop makes you pretty cool, Frank’s has a mellow, convivial and communal atmosphere that instantly dispels any myths of Londoners not being friendly.
The smell from the open air grill pumps out appetite-whetting smoke, and you can almost imagine some sunshine on the skyline as it churns out grilled peppers which burst with charred herb flavours, corn on the cob that is exotically sweet and pleasantly firm to the bite, and sardines to challenge those of a coastal Mediterranean village. Hummus disappointingly lacks tahini, but that’s the only low point, with anchovy salads, olive oil-tossed heritage tomatoes and grilled lamb chops all pretty near perfect.
Frank’s has to be experienced first hand to be appreciated. It’s more than worth the journey.
Peckham multi-storey carpark,
94a Rye Lane,
Nearest tube: Peckham Rye