I think it’s the secret culinary finds in an area which bestow charm on a place and give it a sense of community. Streatham’s independent eateries are building a reputation for innovative cooking and charming corners. Special Streatham daytime spots include the delightful Carvalho’s Café (106 Natal Rd, SW16 6H). It’s the definition of a local hub, people come from the cottages in the Ferrer’s Triangle for coffee and chat, the food is fresh and delicious, and the pavement feels continental with its little tables under shady trees, and friendly service. I had a delicious bowl of cauliflower soup then wished I’d had the fish pie when the table next to me asked for seconds! There’s a daily blackboard of the freshly cooked offerings and their homemade pesto and the chilli sauce need to be bottled and on sale soon.
Near Streatham Station and with a sunny terrace set back from the High Rd, Café Barcelona (344 Streatham High Rd, SW16 6HH) brings Spain to Streatham. The signature Barcelona breakfast is delicious and enormous, and will see you through to supper and beyond – a huge plateful of bacon, chorizo sausage, beans, eggs, toast and lashings of tea and coffee (my personal favourite coffee in Streatham). Every part of the breakfast is organic, full of flavour and beautifully prepared. Their custard tarts are also a cut above the average nata and made on the premises. The Serrano ham toastie is mouth-watering, so give them a try.
A new and innovative way of giving work experience training on the job is underway at Hive Café (6 Coburg Cres, SW2 3HS) opposite Palace Rd Nature Garden. Wonderful coffee, cheese toasties and daily specials as well as the best ginger lemonade I’ve ever tasted are served by local people with learning disabilities giving them a route into permanent work. It costs the charity behind them £160,000 a year to provide this route, so do your bit and go and sit in the lovely calm atmosphere and eat and drink something delicious.
Another brunch favourite is Big Bad Wolf (12 Mitcham Lane, SW16 6NN), where the coffee rivals Cafe Barcelona’s for those who like it strong, as I do. Here is one of the loveliest secret walled gardens in Streatham to hide away and enjoy top-notch brunch among the olive trees. Their chicken and avocado bagel is awesome. I thoroughly recommend this oasis by Streatham Green if you have a deadline to meet or an hour to kill. The red leather sofa also deserves an honourable mention for comfort.