Christmas in Peckham

How do you avoid the repetition of a traditional Christmas meal? Well, we’ve previously done Cardiff in July, Blackheath in June, central London in January… but here we were, planning on having our annual Christmas meal in December of all places! Trouble is, most restaurants seem to want to ditch what they are known for, and produce their version of what everyone is doing.

I have to admit, on this occasion I was doing the travelling, so it seemed only right to delegate the venue choice to the dude living locally. “Peckham…”, he suggested. Well, the first thing to come to mind was the song lyric “Is there life in Peckham?” Turns out, there really is, and amongst other contenders, it is alive and well at…

Artusi sign

On inspecting the online menu possibilities, it seemed like we were attending the first night of a somewhat far more adventurous Christmas menu than I had seen before. But, despite getting up my resolve to go for it, redemption came in the form of having to book it in advance. We hadn’t, so we were left to their very own tradition of setting out their Italian inspired menu of the day on a blackboard near the restaurant entrance…

Chalkboard menu

A Salt Beef starter arrived with just the right blend of soft melt-in-the-mouth tender brisket and tart pickled cucumber…

Salt Beef starter

The main dish of Rigatoni Sausage Ragu came in the form of small pasta tubes with smaller pieces of sausage in a delicate balance. Why get stuffed, when you can just enjoy a satisfying blend of complementary flavours? Though it is very clear to me that had Juno been present that Sea Bream across the table would not last the time it takes for a blog post snap…

Canelloni Sausage Ragu

Until we speak again, it seems there is life in Peckham, and it comes in a very satisfyingly un-Christmas package. Artusi is for any time, not just for Christmas!

Artusi entrance

It’s a carve up!

Pretty girl [1]Family birthday events do have a habit of clashing with the run up to christmas; but then it’s difficult to shift a birthday I suppose. So what can be done if the christmas effect is to be avoided in the culinary department? Nothing it would appear, but then who listens to the advice of a knowledgeable cat? It comes as an unusual experience for my kind not to be in complete control of what goes on, particularly when this bunch of humans decide to go off to ‘noshville’ without me!

22669161┬áIt seems the older, so-called wiser members of the group decided to do the same thing as last year. Well, don’t blame me if you get the same as you already had! There were incessant moans about the rubbish service from my ‘resident gourmand‘ on the news of the deja vu eating experience. Nevertheless, off to the Marriott Hotel in central Cardiff is where the starving clan congregated. [With thanks to booking.com for the above image of the hotel exterior].

Marriott [1]

It seems that the place was quite popular, or is that just the christmas effect kicking in? Anyway, those who should have been at home taking care of my culinary delights were led to a table in close proximity to carver central…

Marriott [2]

Marriott [3]It seems that lightening really does strike twice, as I hear it took three separate members of staff an eternity to sort out bringing a bottle of Rioja and a couple of glasses to the table… a mere 20 minutes later than the glass of Pino Grigio and glass of Pino Rose requested by others in the party.

I wonder if draping a clean handkerchief around the bottle adds to the flavour of the wine; or is it just a sneaky flourish to cover up for poor service?

With a taste of wine smoothing the palate my discerning food taster goes for a simple mix from the starters buffet table; salami and ham accompanied by salad and antipasti…

Marriott [4]

But the coup de gras of the whole set up was the hotel’s signature hot buffet carvery, top ended with melt in the mouth turkey breast and beef, sublimely accompanied by crisp seasonal vegetables, a fluffy Yorkshire pudding and tasty gravy…

Marriott [5]Tis the season for brussel sprouts, and for all of the faint praise they receive, a crunchy sprout is a fine accompaniment to any festive dish. The overall verdict reported back to me was of a very tasty meal, but a likely seasonal recruitment campaign results in service that falls below the average expectations. So, until we speak again may all of your brussel sprouts be crunchy!