The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rock Steady Eddie's, Camberwell

Rock Steady Eddie's
2A Coldharbour Lane

by Herby Banger

8am, Kings College Hospital Dental Unit. I’m told that this could take some time. Luckily I’m just there for support, which means as my girlfriend disappears reluctantly through yet more unmarked swing doors I have time to kill in Camberwell.

I know where I’m headed; I’ve driven past it too many times not for it to be embedded in the back of my mind. Rock Steady Eddie's Café, the most garish looking spoon in the area. Outside it’s a glitzy overbearing sign and inside it’s traditional Formica tables and high backed booth style seats, overlooked by rock 'n’ roll and Hollywood posters. Everything however seems faded and saddened by grease and neglect.

I sit and read the menu which lists the endless dining options on offer. Eddie's tailors for breakfast, lunch and dinner - yet on closer scrutiny there seems to be no discernable difference between any of them, unless 'Onion Rings' constitutes the difference.

Fearing a possible stroke I opt for poached eggs on toast, bacon, beans and bubble. It comes and then it goes; the kind of breakfast that you try to eat as quickly as humanly possible just to get rid of it. Not that it's particularly bad, but its unremarkableness makes its ordinariness stand out.

Dirty, yet cheap, Eddie's has an edge about it even on this early Monday morning. The clientele seem to be the abject poor, and the clearly crazy. Like most people in Eddie's, it seemed that no one intended to wind up there, just circumstances had collided and Fortuna’s wheel had spun them downwards and here they are. That being said Eddie's is a constant, a reliable and maybe the only permanent fixture for people in this area, and for them it serves much more than its feeble £3.85 breakfast.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is true that Eddie's is operating on the greasier end of the greasy spoon spectrum, but he makes up for the stickiness of the tables with his friendly service and semi-open kitchen, where is family is grying away, instilling some trust in the preparation methods of the otherwise seemingly budget ingredients. It should be noted that the current patron of this family business is actually the brother of the original Eddie, who has apparently moved on to cater for a different crowd in a different area and who is legendary for his bolt business decisions. The two highlights: 1) When ordering the Eddie's branded t-shirts for sale at Eddie's he opted for the one-size-fits-all logic, presumably hoping that regulars would gradually eat themselves into the shape compatible with the XL size on offer (available in XL and various colours). 2) The menu is (presumably) the only London spoon menu featuring a "Full English Breakfast" with exactly zero sausages - which will have to be ordered as an extra. Cunning marketing or a momemtary lapse in concentration during proof-reading? It all adds to the legend.

1:03 PM, July 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must have passed Rock Steady Eddie’s hundreds of times and wondered whether it was some kind of hidden gem. Thanks for saving me the bother.

I can give you the lowdown on two other spoons on Coldharbour Lane, now much less scary than it used to be. Barney’s Café near Loughborough Junction appears unchanged for decades. The veteran owners keep the formica immaculately clean and the breakfast is competent. No naff signage on orange fluorescent cardboard, and no music. A world away from Sem Café, a haunt of taxi drivers tucked away on Padfield Street, under a railway arch near the black cab repair yard. Grease-splattered copies of the Daily Star and salacious R&B videos on the flat screen gave it a louche air on the muggy Saturday morning I dropped in. Perhaps it was my slightly shaky condition, or maybe they were having an off day, but the breakfast was poor and the tea was bituminous. For completists only, and definitely not for taking your girlfriend.

6:06 PM, October 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rock Steady Eddies has the best vegetarian burger in london. Red Veg, McDonalds or linda mccartney couldn't touch it.

5:14 PM, December 10, 2007  
Blogger Julian said...

Apparently Rock Steady Eddie was his stage name in a former career as an arm wrestler. He still used a pair of hand grips, kept by the till, they were so hard/tight no one else could make then budge.

12:00 PM, February 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spring 97 Cafe, Camberwell New Road.

It's *very* yellow-plastic, so not the best place to go with a serious hangover, but it does do amazing (and amazing value) breakfasts - £3.85 for full English (with real, grilled tomatoes) and the best milky coffee found in London - 70p!

2:34 PM, January 23, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eddie (if indeed he is called that) is an absolute maniac in my experience, with a line in over-bearing jokes repeated ad nauseum such as 'I'd like to propose a toast', which he has used on all occasions I have eaten there when presenting the accompanying toast with your breakfast. He frightens me. None more so than when he ran at full pelt from the kitchen, across the pavement and into the road in order to jump onto the bonnet of a car waiting at the lights. I can only hope that he knew those inside.

12:03 PM, March 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and he once appeared in a Basement Jaxx video. I forget which.

12:05 PM, March 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rock Steady Eddies is by far my favourite greasy spoon anywhere. My friends beg to differ, but I actually love their bacon, chips beans and fried tomatoes covered in budget ketchup and brown sauce and a mug of frothy coffee. And the ambience is wonderful. Being so close to Maudsley's - London's main mental hospital - you most certainly get some characters. True they, and the establishment are a bit on the dirty side, but Sal (Eddies bro who now runs the place) has a winning way with the more difficult clientele, and the mix of Al Jolson and other nostalgia era music really makes the place unique and always lifts my spirits when I go there. Like some strange greasy ray of sunshine. I have been going for 10 years and Sal always makes sure that me and my friends get a christmas card and gift each year. It's like family, and that sense of community is pretty hard to find it seems these days. I recommend going on your own with the papers, watching the world go by and listening to the banter of the other diners. It's a special place. And no matter what you order, your plate is full. And cheap. It's a beautiful thing.

12:34 AM, March 26, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Grrrrrrrreat food oldskool decor and friendly service. 10/10 folks

4:58 PM, December 29, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say I have only ever sampled the tea at Eddie's which has always been tip top.

However, on an unadvised trip to the loo I didn't know whether laugh or cry at the sign on the back of the door that read "Out of respect to others (and yourself) please close this door while using the toilet".

6:05 PM, October 24, 2010  
Blogger ron said...

Once i walked into Rock Steady Eddies and just as i was about to sit down when i saw a young bus driver complaining to Eddy saying"mait is this what you call a sausage sandwitch?" And what it was was the most cheapest,horrible sausages cut in half then chpped up with a razorblade.Then i ordered a hot chocolate but it just tasted like hot water.

7:24 PM, February 01, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh and Rock Steady Eddies is not the only bad cafe. There is also a horrible one in East Duwlich. It has dirty tables,the service is bad,you have to wait 2 WHOLE HOURS to get your food and there sausages are cold.

Its not the place to take a girl either and service 0/10 folks.

9:02 PM, February 14, 2011  
Blogger Nuclear Death Terror said...

Best veggie burger in London. As a recovering vegan, I eat everything, the meatier the better, but every time in Rock Steady's I go for the veggie burger. It's amazing, and almost makes up for five years of culinary deprivation with a further foolhardy five years of vegetarian nonsense before that. In fact the burger is RSE's actually vegan, and if you so desire, there's a healthfood shop across the road road where you can get vegan cheese slices which the cooks are only to happy to put on your burger for ya: vegan cheeseburger. And ask for your chips well done, and ask for half chips / half hash browns. Best hangover cure south of the river. Plus then there's all the amazing characters who frequent the place. The Sheriff; Asian DVD Guy; Weird Tobacco-Stained Paedo Type. Great spot for people watching, but probably a bit too intimidating for the Vice crowd.

11:35 PM, November 17, 2011  
Blogger jack nicolson said...

i visited rock steady eddies on the 14/12/11 with my girlfriend and thought i had stepped back 40 years in time /and was,nt sure weather we had accidentley some how walked in to the patient canteen in the local maudsley menthal hospital. however we both ordered burger and chips coke and coffee which i must say was excellent and great value for money total cost £7.15 ,while there we listened to the other customers chatting and giving each other christmas cards and I am convinced we walked into A remake of one flew over the coo coos nest/ or part two and must say in was on experience i will never forget,

10:51 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Luay said...

Rock Steady Eddies is Rad as fuck, you sir, are a tasteless swine, with not much to offer the world apart from scathing hate, if everyone were like you, we'd all be living in a frozn hellscape, eddies offers a refuge for many. you Pret loving prat.

12:16 PM, June 20, 2013  
Blogger Unknown said...

Visited Rock Steadies for the first time last weekend nursing a raging hangover from the night before. Having always been intrigued by the place, and the prices being more than attractive, we decided to give it a go.

It has to be one of the most bizarre establishments in London. The expansive menu caters for all culinary tastes and includes some very weird gems. Signs by the till provide such age old adages as "Sympathy is my Enemy"!? and warn those persons not welcome on the premises (women of disrepute among them!). The most fantastic thing of course though has to be the people.

We were offered a DVD copy of Gone with the Wind, treated to a "Jungle Book boogie" as King Louie's famous song played on the radio, and finally threatened to be shot for apparent late payment of the bill that we had in fact settled at the point of ordering.

It was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had, but as we ate our impressively good breakfasts the headaches swept away. We were kept entertained throughout by the constant hilarity of proceedings and left Eddie's with a more cheerful (if ever so slightly warped) view on the world.

For those in search of Sunday morning/afternoon sustenance in that common state of fragility, Eddie's offers it without judgement. Noone will look with disapproval at your tousled hair, haggard face or crumpled clothes from the night before. You get the feeling you could wander in dressed as a pink gorilla and noone would bat an eye. The same absence of any snobbery and self consciousness cannot be said of some of the more "upmarket" competition in Camberwell. I'm sure its not for everyone, but it is certainly an experience, and for me one that was very enjoyable.

6:29 PM, November 17, 2013  
Blogger Look said...

The place definitely has some interesting characters and offers prices that are more than reasonable it's a bit of a refuge for some and you need places where the usually shunned can feel a bit normal and have some interaction or peace, unfortunately for me on my visit all my food tasted of really dirty oil and I couldn't really stomach it, I wish the place luck it's certainly unique and one of those things that makes London special that we keep on loosing.

2:09 PM, January 19, 2018  
Blogger Unknown said...

Intrigued by the name, I had to go in, about 5 years ago. Glad I did. Fantastic decor, atmosphere and food. Old school charm, quaint brashness and interesting characters. I'll definitely be back when I'm next in the area. We need to hold on to wonderful London cafes like this in the face of characterless and expensive big corp blandness. Keep rocking on, Eddie's!!

10:34 PM, November 19, 2021  

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