Lunch on the left bank. OK, so it’s not Paris. No happy smell of tear gas, no waiters with selective blindness. Gazette is however ... Read Feature
These days if you like people watching, there is no better destination than Earlsfield station in rush hour. Here during you can watch as many people as you’d like, with the only distraction being the occasional arrival of a train prefilled with more people than you could usually imagine in the morning.
One morning recently during an RMT strike I surveyed the massed ranks of humanity waiting patiently on the platform. Then took note that the departure time for the next train was listed somewhat vaguely as winter and decided to try my luck working elsewhere for the morning.
Bean & Hop is situated on Garratt Lane, down the opposite side of the road from the station and close to Ben’s Canteen. For me a big advantage is that it opens at 8 am, has Wi-Fi and is dog friendly. This makes it a good bolt hole when commuting goes wrong like it had that morning.
As well as a rather intimate interior (rather more chairs than the space would seem to allow,) there is also quite a lot of exterior seating. Inside the plain white and exposed wood décor screams at you ‘self-proclaimed artisanal café,’ nearly as much as the menu does.
The brunch menu is VERY South West London, it being a mix of eggs with things added to it, plus the sort of Mediterranean options that you would normally give yourself a gold star for just having heard of. So, as well as bacon, sausages & smoked salmon etc. you can else treat yourself to halloumi, shakshouka and if the mood takes you Moroccan pulled lamb.
Plonking myself down at a table in the corner I fired up the laptop and ordered what I hoped was a diet friendly white Americano. The coffee was dark and bitter and like everything else screamed its artisanal values as it hit my taste buds.
Not wishing to expand my culinary horizons too much that morning and being on a diet I ordered the bacon, scrambled eggs and no sourdough toast. That bit especially hurt as the sourdough toast at Bean & Hop is delicious and takes the toast from being mere padding for a breakfast to a central part of the enjoyment.
It also however became apparent when the breakfast arrived how much of the plate had previously been covered by sourdough toast. What there was looked very attractive, nice colourful scrambled eggs from Burford hens or similar designer breed, bacon crisp and tasty, but limited to just two rashers. Breakfast took about much time as it had done earlier to pour the milk into my Americano and left me feeling like I wanted more.
At this point the café was filling up with more than just disaffected commuters. The digital nomads, the yummy mummies and those enjoying a day off catered with breakfast were spilling in. It’s popular alright, but 9 am there was scarcely a spare seat in the place.
I can understand this popularity, my bill when it came was about £11 for 2 coffees and breakfast. You’d pay only a bit less than that for a prepacked offering in Starbucks or Pret. Here you also get nice welcoming service and later in the day you can swap your coffee and eggs for pizza and beer.
So why with its nice food, pleasant surroundings and attentive staff don’t I go more of a bundle on bean & hop? I think it’s partly because it feels a bit by the numbers, and there are so many similar establishments on Old York Road, Northcote Road, Bellevue Road and around Putney, Balham etc.
I would say though that if you’re stuck near Earlsfield, need somewhere for a working breakfast this is probably the best option around. Till the next time.