Just as much a community hub as it is a restaurant, Peckham Refreshment Rooms is a hard one to beat, perennially packed with locals who wish the place would stay a secret. The space has an industrial skeleton, warmed up by the ochre tabletops, stacks of cookbooks and bitters lining the shelves, mellow golden lighting, and most importantly, an electric crowd. The food is what we think of as new British: deliciously assertive in flavor and usually served on a wooden board. Many of the dishes—like the chargrilled sea bass slathered in seaweed butter and doused in burnt lemon, or the pancetta bacon sandwich (the best in the city) served between two crusty wedges of potato bread—are of the dig-in-and-get-your-hands-dirty variety. This is the type of restaurant where the OJ is always fresh, the newspapers are stacked haphazardly on the counter, and the staff rarely changes. It’s also affordable, and run consciously, sustainably, and with gusto by owner James Fisher.

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