#60 Stop this East Dulwich cafe madness!

In Food & Drink, Homeworking, South London on November 3, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Just when you thought SE22 couldn’t possibly support any more cafes-cum-artisanal-bread-shops-cum-cupcake-outlets, along come even more.

I blame the recession – more and more people out of stable jobs and looking for an entrepreneurial project that will also allow them to be flexible when it comes to childcare. Bearing in mind that this is one of London’s havens of homeworking (on an axis with Crouch End and Stokie), surely we are spiraling towards a self-contained economy of cappuccinos, humour books, and hand-made scatter cushions. Just as Brixton now has its own currency, soon in East Dulwich you’ll be able to have your garden made over in exchange for installing bespoke shelving, and buy carrot cake with drama workshop credits.

Among the new-ish arrivals are:

The Gardens: You know that intriguing derelict electrical shop on Peckham Rye that you’ve walked past hundreds of times and thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice to buy it, chuck in my job, and turn it into a lovely cafe serving lovely cakes’? Well, someone has. The coffee’s weak and they play Smooth FM, but they’ve got squishy sofas and a nice view, so all is not lost. Plus they’re opening a deli in the back. And will showcase local art on the walls (of course).

The French Cafe, 38 Forest Hill Road: It’s probably been there ages but I’ve been slow to discover the delights of this little parade, just up from the Herne, where there’s also a good pizza place, good chippy, and a newsagent that stocks El Pais and Le Monde. The French Cafe has none of your Lordship Lane pretensions and serves better coffee (Monmouth!). It also has a digital real fire, rustic bread and scandinavian breakfasts.

Homemade, 44 Barry Road: bijou. Not enough room to swing an artisanal baguette but lots of things like homemade condiments to be enjoyed on the pretty terrace with excellent views of the no 12 bus route.

Jacks, 85 Pellatt Road: reopened under new management (so hopefully  with more conventional opening times now). Foodie checklist: old spot sausages, Montogmery cheddar, Monmouth coffee,  ham hock soup. Good for breakfast, brunch, and hangovers (the curing of).

UPDATE!! Since writing this blog I have now been to new Jacks several times and can report that this is officially THE BEST CUP OF COFFEE IN SE22! They now favour Climpson & Sons (another London roasting house) and are very particular about things like the exact calibration of their machine to ensure precise timing of how long it takes for the water to drip through (apparently any more than 28 secs and the coffee is ruined). Good wholesome lunches too.

Scoop, 4 Melbourne Terrace: Proper ice cream parlour with waffles, sundaes, white hot chocolate, and what connoisseurs regard as the finest pistachio icecream known to man. Opened last year. Bizarrely for somewhere based around an essentially summer food, this is a really cosy place to hang out on chilly day.

Gastronomia/Tea Amore, Lordship Lane: The one up by the library. Italian slant. Linked to the one in Herne Hill.

The Tea Pot: Forest hill. So far only viewed from the upper deck of the 185, but would seem to answer Forest Hill resident’s cafe-related prayers.

UPDATE!! Friends up the Hill say the St David Coffee House is their Forest Hill caffeine fix of choice

The Lido Cafe, Brockwell Lido. Again about a year old, but my friend the London know-it-all and Great Wen blogger  Pete Watts swears by it, despite the risk of being put off your blueberry pancakes by having a man in Speedos at the next table. (Yes, even at this time of year.)

While the cafe is , of course, the spiritual home of the homeworker, when anyone round here ever actually gets any homeworking done, or earns the money to be able to afford the coffee, is a mystery.

At 10am, a cross section of the clientele in one particular cafe (though it could have been any one of them) included: post-school-drop-off mums; assorted toddlers; an outdoorsy middle aged couple with a dog; a local small-busniesswoman in a suit with a file of print outs; a dad in a hoodie playing with his iPhone and reading the Guardian; a well-groomed shaven-headed man with his iPad; an actor that you think you recognise from Spooks, Silent Witness, or possibly Holby; a man with a beard.

And it’s only a Wednesday.

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