One of my absolute favourite things is trying a new restaurant or café. In my ‘previous life’ I would keep a list of all the latest restaurant openings that looked interesting and work my way through them systematically. It was only when I left the corporate world and started doing some sums that I realised the cost of my hobby. So these days, it’s a habit that endures albeit with less regularity and one which is generally indulged closer to home. I have expanded my brief to include cafes and tend towards smaller, more individual locations where it is clear that the owner has a passion for what they do and as such, is able to deliver an altogether more stimulating experience than the large, glitzy but rather faceless places that I once used to frequent.
So it’s lucky that in South West London there is SO much happening and always something new to try. Now that the blog is up and running, I am looking forward to sharing my discoveries with you and there is no better place to start than Flotsam and Jetsam on Bellevue Road.
It seems that those guys from down under have a lot to teach us about what it takes to run a great café. There’s probably few cafes within about a 5 mile radius that I haven’t tried and yet I always come back here. I often ponder on what the magic formula is and why all the others, for me, just do not match it. My conclusion is that what they have is consistency and not only that, consistency across all the areas that really matter: lovely fresh food, artisan coffee in an array of flavours (beetroot latte anyone?!), super friendly service and a simple but buzzy environment. It seems so easy and yet I haven’t found anywhere else that manages to deliver on this 100% of the time. The queues at weekends bear testament to this, which is probably just as well because it is just a little too handy to be tempted too frequently by a large, post-Nordic walking Sunday morning brunch!
I am embarrassed to admit that it has got to the stage now where I have to ration myself on the number of times I go in in the week. I am always given a friendly welcome (unlike at some of the others in the area. I remember going elsewhere for a post-Nordic walking coffee with the group and we were turned away as the manager did not want us to occupy all the outside tables!!!). I am sure the waiters think it is not worth giving me the menu as my order is always the same: I am totally addicted to the smashed avocado with poached egg and feta which is the best I have tasted (sorry chef!) and try as I might to sample other things, I always come back to it.
It always looks like this. Complete with mint leaf, chillies, and a quarter of lime all strategically placed – EVERY time!
I am told by the many people I have taken there that the eggs benedict is amazing, the salads wonderfully fresh and the cakes are to die for….a little frustrating therefore that I can’t eat refined sugar anymore (I’ll tell you that story another time)… but I have to content myself with the energy balls as a late afternoon pick-me-up!
So I will continue in my quest to find others that can match it but for the moment, and actually for the last 18 months, F+J and Hana and her team get my vote.