Mike and partner J head out to one of the best outdoor spots for alfresco dinner in their local area; the garden at the Faber Fox Crystal Palace.
The covered booths of thick bamboo poles and fronds, timber tables, multi-coloured polka-holed Robin Day Polo chairs and vivid red parasols give it all a beachy feel. It evidently works because, as soon as we locate a nice shady spot, we begin to consider a more exotic drink than usual.
Not being into garish cocktails with umbrellas, the FF’s personable manager and barman Jazz, mixes us a couple of excellent classic Negroni. On a Thursday, these, along with Aperol Spritz / Espresso Martini or Frozen Passion Fruit Margueritas’ are £12 for a pair too.
We’re having ‘small plates’ as starters which turn out to be quite substantial. Mine’s a huge heap of lovely looking dainty Lamb Chipolatas, with a refreshing piquant red pepper chimichurri sauce, which are homemade and have just the right amount of meaty heat. J enjoys a big bowl full of crispy, firm (but definitely not chewy) Squid Rings with garlic aioli.
Those would probably have been enough but, happily lacking hindsight, I find myself carving into a nice Rib eye Steak which is perfectly cooked, tasty, tender and succulent. It happens to come with more chimichurri, which is most welcome.
There s also an excellent end-of-Jenga pile of thick cut chips, easily enough to share without it hurting! Around us I see some serious looking burgers too, but vegans need not panic as they do also cater for the less or non-carnivorous.
J is initially disappointed that the Goan Veg curry is off tonight, but as soon as she begins her Pickled Artichoke and Green Bean Salad with feta and creme fraiche, she is plenty happy. It is crisp and fresh and the candied pumpkin seeds adorning it are a delightful addition. Apparently, it goes well with several of my chips too.
The Faber Fox is feeding us well, we’ll definitely be coming back for the weekend BBQ bar menu with such treats as BBQ burgers, Smoked Aubergine and Grilled King Prawns or Rainbow Trout.
Jazz the barman keeps us lubricated with follow on G+T’s and engaging chat. He says they are dog friendly, offering baskets, organic dog food and even Brewdog dog beer. It’s a dog’s life here – the only problem is we haven’t got one.
We feel too full for dessert – so we still opt to share one of course, that’s what you do, right? Sticky Toffee Pudding with butterscotch sauce arrives with dual spoons and it’s so good. A perfect dose of stodginess whilst at the same time managing to stay light.
The ice cream it comes with to contrast the hot pud is meant to be vanilla, but Jazz lets us switch it up to salted caramel which goes down a treat.
Both very full now, we sit digesting and earwigging an adjacent table who speak of moving out of London to the coast, but with cool beach bars serving food as good (and reasonably priced) as this right here in the metropolis, who needs to?
The Faber Fox, 25 Westow Hill, SE19 1TQ