Caveat up front. If you don’t know – I’m an Aussie. To make things worse I’ve recently returned from living in Melbourne – the coffee and brunch capital of civilisation as you know it. Which makes things a little tricky on my everlasting quest to find a good brunch in London.
Why? Well here’s a selection of brunch dishes (that aren’t just available on weekend – this is 7 day a week shit) that have graced my table during my time there:
Yes – there’s way too much flower action going on that have probably been applied with the most unneeded kitchen appliance ever – tweezers…. And if you know anywhere in London knocking it out of the park like this – HOLLA!
But compare these brunch dishes to what you can find in everywhere doing brunch in London. You know exactly what you’ll be ordering on the menu even before you get the piece of paper in front of you. Maybe it’s the safety in it that makes people continuously go back to the smashed avo, French toast, eggs benedict or full English. But almost every place is a cookie cutter of standard dishes trying to make the pages of TimeOut, Hot Dinners or Evening Standard’s magazine. Add in Bottomless Brunch and you’ll surely be included in some sort of roundup. There are even restaurants that have been advised by their PR company to start doing brunch and adding the Bottomless element in order to remain relevant. When did sticking to what you know become out of fashion?
Anyway. Having lived on Walworth Road, between the dire Elephant and Castle and the much more interesting Camberwell, my local cafe was Fowlds cafe just off Brockwell Park. Sitting in the front room of an old upholstery shop that’s still being used. The cafe team approached the upholsterers with an idea – bringing the community together around the cafe by lending them the space in the tiny front room and watch both thrive.
A great idea on paper. Fowlds does a few brunch and lunch dishes but mainly is the caffeine injection that we wouldn’t have if they weren’t open – and they had fresh bread for sale which if you know Walworth Road, is not something readily available anywhere. But the cafe was also a bit of a shambles – the tiny room had everyone sitting on top of each other, the barista skills would vary day to day, they couldn’t cope with a crowd – it was just one of those places that was a little bit all over the place most of the time. But as a coffee bat-signal in the wilderness I’ve returned every weekend.
After a prolonged crowdfunding effort they were able to secure a site on Walworth Road. I’ve only just moved ten minutes down the road but this patch towards the Camberwell Green end of town is ripe for the picking as families are flocking to this area but have nothing to cater for them and I’ve been biding my time to see who will step into the void.
Louie Louie recently opened and has been chugging along nicely for a couple of weeks for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner (more on the later). I decided to head down the past weekend to scope out what they were up to.
The first thing is that while the space is much bigger than Fowlds, there’s still only a limited amount of seating and this Saturday I visited, obviously word had started getting out and local and not so local customers thought brunch was a great idea too. So much so – they either had the option to wait out front, put their name down and get a call when a table was ready or go elsewhere. This is all usually fine and dandy if you were in central London but it’s certain death to those people thinking they could find *ANYWHERE* on or around Walworth Road that you could have brunch. I’m being stupidly serious here – Louie Louie has you by the balls because if you’ve travelled here for brunch and found a long wait, you have no other option of going anywhere without a further fifteen minute bus ride if you know where you’re going.
That’s all basically to say they’ve got you.
It’s nice space with counter seating around a pearler of a La Marzocco coffee machine. The tunes are good – down to the smart idea of playing records over a Spotify playlist without soul. The coffee is pretty decent too.
There was only one dish on the menu vying for my attention – the black pudding and bacon sandwich with plum ketchup. When it arrived I was taken back by the generous slice of black pudding. If anyone’s a little adverse to blood sausage I would think this may come as a shock had it not been the dominant ingredient on the menu.
Overall it was a decent attempt on a bacon butty but if you pit it against the glorious bacon beast that you get at Hill and Szrock public house then H&S win hands down. I enjoyed this dish – but will I be rushing back for this or other dishes soon? I’m willing to take someone along the next time and to sample another dish but about the same distance away is Salon Brixton who are serving up some spectacular brunch dishes that I keep returning to.
But if you’re in the area – or even better – if you’re a local – you now have 100% better places to go for coffee that you had a few weeks ago. And in my book, that’s a plus.
I will be returning to check out their dinner offering and updating this post. As is the trend in London, the kitchen has a pop up chef redeince that they will be rotating around during the year. Currently they have Oded Oren cooking vegetables, meat and seafood over charcoal that sounds pretty cool.
Contact: Louie Louie – 347 Walworth Road London SE17 2AL. Ph. 07812 184730. Website.