Hipster tales: on the roof at Frank’s Cafe in Peckham

Thank God, the sun is finally out and summer is upon us. But it’s kind of too hot to be either indoors or outdoors. Fortunately this is not the nihilistic conundrum it appears to be; it’s apparently the ideal temperature for cavorting on rooftops, and the crowds flocking to Peckham are doing just that, writes Laura Burgoine…

That’s right, Frank’s Café has flung open its multi-storey car park doors again for the summer. And they’ve dropped the random Campari sponsors, which means confused hipsters can go back to ordering age-appropriate beverages rather than pretending to enjoy a bitter orange apéritif that went out of fashion twice before most of them were even born.

Frank's Cafe 2 for blog

As a local resident it amuses me when I’m informed that Peckham is kind of cool now, or if I’m directly quoting: “not that bad anymore.” I recently heard Bellenden Road described as Bellenden Village (others have used the two hidden words in a different way but I would never do that). I’ve witnessed the bespectacled Shoreditch hipsters with their high buns and high-waisted shorts spill out onto Rye Lane en route to Frank’s. “Peckham’s really not that far,” they marvel, narrowly missing being wiped out by the 343 bus in their efforts to avoid the odours permeating from the local butcher shops.

The point of my ramblings – and I do have one – is that people don’t just cross the river willy-nilly; there has to be a pretty alluring incentive and Frank’s is it. The bar is fantastic, it has phenomenal views, it’s always vibrant and buzzing and it’s genuinely unique. Whenever I want to show foreigners how edgy yet cosmopolitan I am, I take them to Frank’s. I once took a conservative German couple there and it blew their minds.

This year they’ve upped their game with an arid desert garden inspired by Derek Jarman’s garden in Dungeness, curated by the late artist’s partner Keith Collins. Driftwood benches, succulents, rusty garden sculptures and an outdoor cinema work perfectly on the vast concrete space.

Mike Levitt’s suspended dining room is also impressive, however the rest of the art is kind of just a barrier between you and the bar. When I hear any kind of art described as an ‘interdisciplinary performance positioning North Korean grief culture alongside the phenomena of Phantom Limb Pain and North Korean popular dance’ I immediately want to jump off the rooftop bar, or at the very least drink everyone in sight under it. But hey, fans of modern art may find it refreshing and if there’s one place where opinions go to blossom it’s Frank’s.

Frank’s Café, 10th floor of Peckham Multi-storey carpark, 95A Rye Lane, SE15 4ST, is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am-11pm. Admission: free. http://www.frankscafe.org.uk

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