I seldom venture down to South London. Yes I hang out in London Bridge but weirdly I don’t consider that to be true South London as its quite central. Anyway, heading down there for some business I decided to go a little earlier, just so I could find a cafe and prep. It was a lovely sunny day without the promise of rain and Balham ended up looking truly gorgeous.
Having come out of the station, I was not struck by lightening, I did not have to go through passport control (lol) or have any prior injections to protect me from southisis. I know, it may sound ridiculous to most, but us North of the river types do have strong opinions on the sarf, from your lack of tube stations to decent shopping meccas. Above the river we have Westfields, well two actually. Then there is Knightsbridge, Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street etc. You have Bluewater or perhaps I am just not educated enough about what is on offer down here. Well on this day, an important reason brought me down to Balham and a fantastic find made it a wee bit worth it.
Now my East London digs affords me the close proximity to all the cool and hipster places in Hoxton, Shoreditch and even Bethnal Green these days. What I did not expect to find is some strong competition from Balham. Over loads of instagram posts from East London hipsters there is poached eggs and avocado galore. The rest of London has either caught up or I just didn’t have a clue. Breakfast is not a boring affair, it hasn’t been for a long time. Gone are the full English choices or lack lustre veggie option. Interesting items like Eggs Benedict were not always a feature, as its quite tricky to make and get that sauce right. Somehow breakfast is now as cool as the coffee movement, the burger fad and kale brigade. Brother Marcus has embraced this within a delightful space which feels unfinished. I don’t mean as in its falling apart, but just in a minimalist, clean, raw way. The interior is basic and practical. Thank you, as that is all that is needed.
Straightaway you know this is a comfortable environment by the number of tables for one. People comfortably sit on their own, watching the world go by or furiously typing on macbooks. I was greeted by a friendly guy and served by a combination of him and other friendly types. The vibe is chilled, but not to the point of feeling unattended to. They watch the room like hawks, even when they are engaged in banter with their colleagues.
I ordered poached eggs with avocado and crispy bacon on sour dough bread. I had English breakfast tea which was fresh leaves as opposed to tea bags. I loved the food, I loved my tea, I loved the staff, I loved the place. I cannot fully commit to being a Sarf London convert yet, but this places shows there is promise. I may have to cast my net wider in future when planning eating spots to review.
9 Chestnut Grove
T. 020 3674 2141