The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Blue Brick Cafe, East Dulwich

The Blue Brick Cafe
14 Fellbrigg Rd
East Dulwich
020 8693 3742

by Herby Banger

Skiving off work is an art form and preparation is foremost. The day before the bunk you must start showing the symptoms that will tomorrow lay you low; a slight cough, maybe a complaint of a headache. If you convince, then phoning in the next morning will be a breeze of well-wishing reassurance. It will relax your every sinew. For me, everything was going according to plan as I hung up the phone. Yet my guilty tranquillity was disturbed not two minutes later by the arrival of builders to the flat above me.

It wasn't too long before I had a real headache and all I could do was leave the house, aghast that I had risked so much for so little reward. Aimlessly I walked the streets around my home, and came to an unexpected crossroads in the day: for before me was a mirage, a long lost image of a café that had occupied my unconscious mind for many years; The Blue Brick Café.

It had always seemed closed, but here now it welcomed me in with its 3-barred glow of electric heat. Inside I was transformed, not into a phoenix, but into a child of the person that I had become. The Blue Brick Café is everything I had missed from a time I had barely known. I had never been there before but the placed seeped memories and nostalgia, of rainy days and unexpected encounters. It is kitsch in a way that no other place can be, for it is unchanged and unerringly charming – comfort on an uncomfortable seat.

It is almost irrelevant that the breakfast I ate was beautiful and simple. No frills were necessary, yet to my delight there were unmistakable signs of real home made effort.

Friendly and honest, now that it is found I shall not stray from the path again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My girlfried and I stumbled upon the blue brick by accident and it is by far and away the finest café in the area. The full English breakfast is awesome and you all see the same faces which means it must be good.

11:28 AM, November 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has to be said...I've just come from the Blue Brick Cafe and the Breakfast was greasy leaving me with stomach cramps. Add to that the two wretched ladies serving and cooking were terribly grumpy fiends. My Dad tried to crack some tried and tested funnies but they were rude and indignant in response. Leaving my Dad and I to utter "miserable bastards" as we left.
My love affair might have ended before it had truely begun.

2:28 PM, November 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having lived opposite and three doors down for nearly 3 years until only a couple of weeks ago, I would like to offer a few words of observation.

Its big with the brickies - always a good turn out of white transits and current buns between 7-8am and this is a pretty decent yardstick to measure its GSC credentials against.

Being a complete food snob (come on its East Dulwich for christ sake and I working for food magazines) I was more inclined to hit the deli for the worlds most expensive streaky bacon and organic eggs than do a pound of grease. However on the couple of occasions when the poison of too many London Prides the night before was unbearable, I succumbed to a double round of bacon and egg sarnies on white, whose powers of redemption it had to be said proved to be exemplary.

The front of house staff may not mince their words, and there are better options available locally if your palate has made it past puberty (Eggs Benedict in the Bishop with superb cappuccino's)but, if hot lard masquerading as breakfast is what you need to comfort your pain, its right up their with the best London has to offer.

5:42 PM, August 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a regular at the Blue Brick Cafe, having the same thing every time i go there, which is two or three times a week. Double egg, chips, bacon and fried toms.
I go there for the chips, they are hand cut from real potatoes, unlike most chips which are supplied cut and cooked from frozen.
I absolutley recomend it

5:54 PM, February 13, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Herby Banger, the reviewer of the Blue Brick Cafe back in oh...I can't remember when.

Firstly thank you for all your comments detailing your experiences and opinions of the place.

I'm posting this comment today however in a vain attempt to take back the glowing review i gave this Cafe some time ago. In fact I'm going to say that I shall never step foot in the place again.

Why the change of heart? Well although the food has not deteriorated (it still represents a well cooked cafe breakfast) there is now a significant problem with this place, something that can't be easily overlooked.

Let me indicate what i mean by way of explaining my last two experiences at the Blue Brick Cafe, the last one leading to my expulsion from the establishment all together.

On both these recent occasions I have sat down with my wife in anticipation of a relaxed morning read of the papers whilst in the kitchen they tend to the cooking of the breakfast. Time however seems to pass slowly in the Blue Brick Cafe now...and it is well before you realize that you are running out of sections of the saturday paper that you are aware that your breakfast still hasn't arrived, whilst your stomach pangs and growls with evermore intensity.

Looking around for a desperate reason to why this experience is taking quite so long, you notice that in reality what seems like a busy cafe is actually only 6 tables. 6! and not all of them are actually occupied. 45 mins has passed and you still have no sign of your order. When the waitress does come into the room you at first try to politely catch her eye, in the hope she will sense your anguish and reassure you that your piping hot breakfast is just enjoying a final caring flourish before it placed in front of you. But no...nothing. Approaching 1hr, and i'm starting to get angry, and just as I start thinking about saying something it comes...and its good, and i'm so hungry i eat it in a matter of seconds.

That was the second to last time i ever stood within the Blue Bricks walls. The last time the experience mirrored what i have just described...but worse.
Its approaching the hour mark since our order was placed. This time for some reason they make me pay up front for our food and drinks. I think this odd, but don't have the morning strength to ask why. However the true reason is sneaking its suspicious way into my head by the minute. Maybe they knew there was gonna be trouble and so they have pocketed my cash before any protest can be lodged and so that their customers don't just leave the premises and go elsewhere? Cunning.

I look around again, this time all the tables are full, but let me remind you that is only a total of 6 tables...this is also a professional cafe, this is what they DO. Yet it is now 1 hour and 15 mins since the order has been placed and nothing. I have one last article to read before my paper is done, and i never read the paper this thoroughly. An hour and half passes and i make my move. My wife reminds me to stay calm, and be polite, and i am for her sake going to try. I enter the kitchen, and ask quite reasonably where my breakfast is. The lady behind the counter looks through the tickets on the counter and claims that mine is next. Next? What? Next!? You mean to say, i challenge them, that you have not even started my breakfast!? Its been an hour and a half i cry! The response from this rude little woman in the kitchen is that I didn't have to come there, and that they don't do fast food. I am at this point keeping a weak finger on the lid of my fury which has risen almost in sheer confusion at this rebuttal and lack of customer service. I proceed to tell them that since placing my order I could have driven to the nearby Supermarket, gathered all the ingredients for a full english, cooked it, eaten it and could now be getting on with the rest of the day. To this the lady tells me to get out and she gets my money from the till and pushes it in my hand. I think i tell her she's an idiot, but hey I think at this stage that's a pretty reserved reaction.

Now of course i regret the whole thing. I regret that i went to the cafe in the first place, i regret the time i wasted there, i regret that this woman shouted at me when i simply asked after my breakfast which she had made pay up front for, and i regret that i wrote the review posted on this blog having only visited the cafe once.

So to the crux of the matter. They have a problem. They only have a few tables, yet they can't cook their breakfasts, they're only task, in a sufficient time to be worthwhile to the customer. The main reason for this seems to be that there is one person cooking each fry up from scratch. Now i like the fact it is cooked well...but does it make sense to literally do one meal at a time. Serve a breakfast then start frying some more bacon and cutting some more potatoes for chips. Surely this can be done in a more efficient way without sacrificing quality. Its not like they don't know what the next orders gonna be. Its not hard to cook 3 or 4 at the same time? Its not hard to cut all the potatoes before service? Get some help! Without it they put themselves under too much pressure, and that leads to them responding to normal customer requests with rudeness and indignation.

Let me know if you have a similar experience there.

1:56 PM, March 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Blue Brick is a one off - not many a place like it. Sure sometimes the wait is long. However the food,(CHIPS like no other cafe or posh nosh place serves up) people and yes the staff are more than worth the wait.
If you get out of the need to rush off some plase and enjoy just being there for a 'Slice of South London Life' home made chips and food cooked to order chill out - and people even talk to each other here. If you are a food snob then maybe this is not the place for you. However if you love real people and and chips then hang out here.
Love the place!

11:25 AM, June 03, 2010  
Anonymous Catherine said...

I stopped going there due to the incredibly slow service but, it is completely different now. Last November, it changed hands and is now a vegetarian cafe that serves breakfast and other food all day. I tried it today for a late lunch and had a delicious vegetable soup with fantastic sourdough bread. For afters, I had a pannetone bread and butter pudding with cream. Since changing proprietors it has had really good reviews. Had a look at the breakfast menu and they do a full veggie breakfast, as well as other things like homemade Bircher muesli. When I was in there someone else came in and was offered something off the breakfast menu so I guess that means that they serve it all day. I certainly intend to try some of their other offerings. It is open 9 am to 7 pm. Closed Tuesdays only.

8:12 PM, March 04, 2011  
Anonymous Catherine said...

For all you doubting tweeters out there - the comment left by me was a legit review. I also took home a piece of their home-made flapjack which I enjoyed yesterday with a cup of tea. Have a look on the East Dulwich Forum for more reviews backing up what I said. These were written by people who tried it much sooner than I did after it changed hands. The only thing the same is the name.

1:24 AM, March 06, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like some of these comments are for the previous incarnation of the Blue Brick Cafe. The new owners run a vegetarian cafe that gets a 10/10 from me for great fresh food and a friendly atmosphere. They serve breakfast all day, but also plenty of other yum dishes if your companion doesn't happen to have a hangover that can only be cured by a full English with tea (you get a little pot of your own) at 3pm.

8:14 AM, July 28, 2011  

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