The Cat & Cucumber, Bermondsey
182 Tower Bridge Road
020 7407 2945
by Sadie Frosties
Working in the cobbled streets of Shad Thames it feels as if every day the concrete and glass blah of the More London development creeps ever closer, like a real-estate T1000. The glory of this area is that despite the obvious regeneration and Conran Cluster, the warehouses and elevated walkways remain, as do the original building names - cardamom, vanilla, sesame, tea, nutmeg - all a nod to the commodities they once housed.
I often fancy at the whimsical name of my favourite caff. How wonderful it would be that alongside the Vanilla Courts and the Wheat Wharfs this was once the centre of the cat and the cucumber trades, handily positioned beside the railway to enable the easy distribution of felines and cultivated gourds to the Kentish heartlands.
Perhaps this is just a ridiculous daydream of another bored office drone, or perhaps just a touch of this industrial atmosphere remains. Either way, the Cat & Cucumber is a Bermondsey institution. The format is one of strict order; one must approach the counter, order quickly from the vast menu and then find a seat, mindful all the while not to lose your numbered ticket. Your task is then to attempt to maintain a non-distracted conversation with your fellow diner while you keep an ear on the numbers bellowed from the counter, and an eye on the steady succession of plates being hurried past you.
I order bacon, eggs, bubble and mushrooms - in my mind the optimum breakfast combination - but on the particular day in question, in celebration of meeting with up with an old west-country comrade, I add a sausage. The fried eggs are of that glorious oil-basted, crisp-free quality, the bubble is laced with green cabbage, and the bacon cooked to catching point. I forget the mushrooms. The sausage – dear reader you will be more than familiar which such a sausage – is of the perfectly cylindrical variety so prevalent in the caff community. But just like those repugnant recovered chicken-face frankfurters you secretly buy from Lidl, everyone has a guilty pleasure. Sat in my office clothes and heels, ladling perfectly fried goods and questionable sausage towards my face, the Cat & Cucumber is my weekday Lidl frankfurter - and I shan’t hear a bad word said about it.