I’ve been told by a reliable source that Deptford is the new Dalston; although indications from a recent visit suggested that was still some distance away. However, there are surprising hidden gems in this corner of London. Wünderlust at the Big Red is one such highlight; it isn’t a venue that you would miss easily with a giant red double-decker bus to greet you on arrival. You may have seen drunken revellers taking apart a late night kebab on a night bus, but now you can also wine and dine with abundant leg room on fantastic 3 course menu prepared by the brilliant Mark Edwards.
This venue is surprisingly spacious and great for parties; apart from the red bus, there is a large, welcoming and homely indoor space which is great for serving the street food that Mark specialises in as well as an outdoor terrace area complete with a foosball table. The flexible indoor space is popular for disco parties in the evenings, but on the Sunday afternoon/evening we visited, it was hosting a very vibrant children’s party. Sitting on the top floor of the bus offers a fantastic vantage point of the whole venue. It might be tempting to press the buzzer on the bus for service, but there isn’t any need as the staff are extremely attentive and do check on your satisfaction and needs at regular intervals.
On weekdays, the food that is served is an exciting street food menu inspired by Mark’s Austrian heritage. We went along on a Sunday to try their chilled-out Sunday sessions menu. For starters, I could not resist trying some Mersea oysters from Colchester; they were plump, had the right salinity, texture and a crisp, cool, cucumber finish. I had ordered 6 but I could just as easily have finished off 12. The Kent charcuterie plate was less successful, the meat looked overdried and portions were on the meagre side; but that was quickly explained when the following customer ordered the dish, it was explained they had sold out.
The roast Hereford beef, Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings was a hearty-sized portion. The meat was tender and of a high quality and the sides were equally well-sourced from the tenderstem broccoli to the potatoes. I am not a massive fan of grilled mackerel and even less for potato crisps being used on main courses, but the fish was as sea-fresh as the oysters and the crisps did provide good textural contrast with the delicate nature of the fillet. The horseradish used did give the dish that extra kick which is sometimes lacking in fish dishes for main courses.
The meal was finished off with a traditional orange and whiskey trifle and the wonderfully well made Judes ice cream. The choices on the menu might not be plentiful and dishes do run out quickly, but they are carefully made dishes using very well-sourced ingredients. For an informal, fun night out in the new Dalston of London, I would suggest visiting Wünderlust at the Big Red.
Update 12/05/16 – The Wünderlust summer BBQ and outdoor cocktail bar is now open for you to enjoy alfresco dining and drinks. Enjoy grilled delights such as Wild Kent Venison skewers and pine smoked half lobster.