Nick Buglione says hello to Herne Hill’s Park’s Edge
It’s at least a tad interesting that, while Brockwell Park and everything around it has gentrified, the parade at the foot of south London’s favourite grassy knoll has resolutely not. Steve’s “greasy spoon”, The Number 2 Chinese, and the weird bed shop I can’t imagine anyone buying a bed in.
For the last year, however, they have been joined by Park’s Edge, an all-day bar and kitchen attempting an ambitious fusion of mid-market brasserie with fine dining aspirations.
Modern British overlaid with Caribbean influences. Housed in a slightly curious hybrid of “smart place” with offbeat memorabilia trimmings, semi-flock wallpaper, library shelves, vintage sewing machines and semi-grand chandeliers.
The winter menu is in full effect and it’s obvious the kitchen is thinking beyond standard brasserie dishes.
My dentist would have issues with the cocktails. My absinthe cocktail was mysteriously lacking in aniseed and was almost insanely sweet. Possibly sponsored by Tate & Lyle or an unscrupulous dentist.
Alongside Caribbean jerk hummus, calypso peppered prawns and Pumpkin soup with dumpling, we chose crab salad with crème fraîche, damson puree, sea herbs and homemade soda bread. Really nice flaked white crab, although I can take or leave the (ultra)sweet plum sauce.
Mrs B had an excellent oxtail ravioli with carrot puree and butter beans. Long cooked, warming rich oxtail in a lovely, thin homemade pasta. If this was lunch, we could have stopped there. These are not micro portions.
My main course, slow cooked pork shoulder in a stout and pecan sauce with grilled leeks (and chips) had a good deep flavour although after having been baked after the slow cook, had a slightly croquettish exterior. I am clearly not a sweet tooth as I found the sauce fairly intimidating. It was also a pretty whopping size, generous to the point of over-generous.
Mrs B’s Dorset lamb rump, paprika-infused mojo sauce, callaloo and sweet potato was an excellently pink, tender lamb. A wintery warmer for the walk home across the park.
As we surely know, I don’t do desserts, although the Caribbean twists run into puddings – banana and rum cake sounds good in a “remember Mum baking” kind of a way. To lay that on top of the starter and main courses would have been borderline heroic.
If I am honest, Park’s Edge is, for me, slightly confusing. It has a friendly face with people popping into the bar alongside the diners and is clearly bringing something new to the Herne Hill table in terms of dining.
But I am not sure whether it’s a great place for brunch, a few drinks, a burger or a neo-fine dining evening. Park’s Edge is possibly caught between the two but, hey, maybe its most things to most people?
They do events such as rum tastings and meet the artist evenings, so there is lots going on, lots of enthusiasm, and perhaps is truly itself in the summer. I’d dial down the sweetness and portion sizes (and occasionally the fine dining aspirations), sort out the cocktails and they are onto something.
49 Norwood Road, SE24 9AA | 020 8671 0306 | parksedgebarandkitchen.com | @parksedgebarandkitchen