As you read this, somewhere in the world a TV channel is running an episode of ‘Friends’. And the show had a legacy. Hairdressers cashed in on copying Jen’s style for one thing. Then there was the spread of those now-ubiquitous expressions “I was like” and “soooo”. But most of all there was the idea that it’s cool to hang out in cafes all day long, especially if they have a sofa! Café culture had long been the norm in Mediterranean countries, but Central Perk popularised it in the States and here, and just look at our high streets now – heaving with coffee shops! Of course we’ve adapted the concept to suit our own ways, and cafes come in many different styles, but nowadays we’ve got so much choice. In no particular order then, here are my 5 favourite cafes in South London.
San Marino – 413, Brixton Rd. SW9
They claim to serve the best coffee in South London – they may be right! This Italian family business does indeed serve up a pretty tasty brew along with some decent cakes (pastel de nata, yes pleease), a selection of toasted ciabattas and a small menu including English brekkie. Also, the outside terrace is the best place for people-watching in Brixton – tell me where there is a more diverse mixture of people to see.
Ev Café – Isabella St. Waterloo SE1
A little piece of Istanbul behind Southwark station in an oasis of plants and trees by the nicely re-furbed railway arches. A lovely place to sit and have a snack, coffee and cake or anything you fancy from the wonderful salad bar. There’s nowhere better in this area on a summer’s day to spend your lunch break.
Petitou – 63, Choumert Rd. Peckham SE15
Just off Bellenden Rd this place is the hangout of choice for many Peckhamites. In a quiet tree-lined street with a nice outside terrace it’s easy to see why Petitou is so popular. I’ve had a very decent breakfast here and the coffee and cake is spot on. Such a laid-back atmosphere too – nice!
Au Ciel – 1A Calton Ave. Dulwich Village SE21
The village people have obviously got far too much time on their hands – I counted eight different places where you could have coffee etc along the small high street. Au Ciel has come into its own since it was taken over by a new French couple. They serve excellent coffee, wonderful cakes and pastries, and mouth-watering sandwiches. And the Belgian chocolates – heaven!
Joe’s Kitchen & Coffee House – 5-7 Marshalsea Rd. Borough SE1
This place is near several student halls of residence, so if you go on a weekend morning it’s fairly obvious there are numerous hangovers being nursed. Try something from their breakfast/brunch menu – you won’t be disappointed; my favourite is poached eggs and bacon served on bubble and squeak (the best – trust me!) with a nice strong cappuccino. Expect to queue at busy times.
Have we missed any? Let us know which are your favourite cafes.