Peg, a new restaurant and wine bar from the team behind Bright in London Fields — and, more tangentially, the Eater Award-winning P. Franco in Lower Clapton — is now open on Morning Lane in east London.
It inherits the site previously occupied by Magnus Reid’s irreverent, Antipodean-leaning Legs, with a considerable departure in design bringing in terrazzo tables made from recycled yoghurt pots, brightly coloured pastel tableware, and the slick, low-key typography from Tegan Ella Hendel familiar to diners at P. Franco and Bright.
Peg is, in many ways, a happy medium between Bright’s fully-fledged restaurant — and the expectations that come with that — and P. Franco’s signal desire to put out food that far exceeds its surrounds — and the expectations that come with that.
The kitchen, run by executive chef Will Gleave — a P. Franco stalwart and co-runner of the kitchen at Bright with Peppe Belvedere — and head chef Byron Fini, is divided into two sections. At Peg, on pegboards, above the pass, grilled skewers of chicken are self-consciously referred to as the ‘grill,’ despite being notably influenced by yakitori preparation: hearts, thighs, meatballs, and wings slicked with tare, and paired with high acid, zippy seasonings: a blood orange and chilli riff on yuzukoshō; shichimi togarashi. Phil Bracey, acting general manager, is conscious of articulating what’s exciting about Peg’s food without recourse to expectations around such a specific tradition: specials like mackerel and scallop suggest that the output will broaden as Peg evolves.
On the other side, there’s a rotating cast of small dishes: oyster mushroom and tofu in gossamer batter, slicked with nori and onion; a crab chawanmushi; amazake ice cream. These influences can be traced back to Gleave and fellow resident chef Tim Spedding’s cooking at P. Franco: using the flavour profiles of Japanese cookery alongside local produce to loosely, and crucially, respectfully, acknowledge the depth of tradition while creating a forward-thinking, changeable menu.
Wine, meanwhile, takes P. Franco’s pour-what’s-good-and-open vibe and marries it to Bright’s restaurant sensibilities. A 150 bottle list is overlaid with ten wines by the glass, a selection that — as at Bright — is put on the front of the menu, signalling a willingness to keep things casual from the get-go. Bracey says that the small, tight space allows the kitchen and the team to be a little less apologetic about their natural instincts for low-key hospitality and quality food and drink: towering wine fridges were improvisingly dropped through the floor; kitchen appliances hauled in through the front window. It might not have the intensity of P. Franco’s at times raucous, improvised hubbub, with place settings on shop shelves and diners jostled around the concrete table, or Bright’s expansive, high-ceilinged confidence, but it borrows from both: a happy medium, and something a little different. Take a look inside.