Attendant Cafe, Fitzrovia

I have been often curious about a little cafe behind my office that was once an underground public toilet.  Today was their first birthday, which seemed like a great opportunity to satisfy that curiosity by meeting my friend Jon there for coffee.

The former toilet that houses Attendant Cafe was apparently built in around 1890 and fell derelict in the 1960s before being converted last year.  The cafe’s owners have stayed true to its origins by keeping a number of the original features.  As you walk through the doors and down into the depths of Foley Street, you are greeted with a wall of graffiti, an amusing nod to how most public spaces are often treated.  The walls inside are lined with the archetypal white tiles you might expect from a public convenience and one of the main seating areas is a row of converted Victorian urinals complete with a (hopefully) decorative flush.

Sadly a lunch meeting prevented me from trying any of their delicious sandwiches, but I did manage a sneaky miniature salted caramel brownie (a little bargain at £1), which had the right amount of salt and sweetness.  The coffee is Caravan, which I am already a huge fan of, and the flat whites expertly made.  Being a mere three minute stroll from my office, it is very likely that this will become a regular spot.

Attendant Cafe, 27a Foley Street, LondonW1W 6DY.  @Attendantcafe

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Petitou, Peckham

Pain au Chocolat

Pain au Chocolat

Sometimes on Fridays I have a day of working from home.  As I am spared the 45-minute commute from East Dulwich to Portland Place, I allow myself a bit of extra time for a leisurely breakfast.  South east London has a myriad of breakfast options from little backstreet cafes that bake their own bread and serve excellent coffee, to acclaimed restaurants with gourmet, and well-priced morning menus.  As all of London seems to go out for breakfast and brunch at the weekend, a day off in the week is a gem of an opportunity to sample these places when they are at their quietest.

I first discovered Petitou a couple of years ago.  I was having a particularly stressful morning trying to shop on Rye Lane for last minute essentials for a trip to Australia, flying later that afternoon.  Almost on my knees from balancing shopping bags, trying to find Australian dollars and taking a barrage of work calls, I needed a coffee and there it was.  Two espressos and some homemade crumpets with Marmite later and I was good as new.  Petitou is a lovely little cafe on the backstreets of Peckham, just off of Bellenden Road.  In the summer, you can sit out on their mosaic-tiled terrace and people-watch and in the winter, the windows completely steam up to create a warm cave, cut off from the world.  Theirs is not an extensive menu, but has enough small and large dishes to satisfy the needs of their diners.

Scrambled eggs and ham on toast

Scrambled eggs and ham on toast

The breakfast menu has a selection of pastries and bread options, including the aforementioned crumpets – so good I had to mention them again.  We shared a pain au chocolat, that was fresh and warm with a decent amount of chocolate inside.  We also ordered scrambled eggs and ham on toast – you can subsitute the ham for other items, including smoked salmon if you wish.  The ham was sourced from the excellent local butcher, Flock and Herd, and had a subtle smoky flavour and a tender texture that didn’t even require a knife to cut through it.  You could just gently flake it with your fork.  The eggs were creamy and flecked with chive and the toast hearty with a good amount of butter.  We also drank rather a lot of tea.

I intend to go for lunch very soon, the salads on their website look fantastic.

Petitou, 63 Choumert Road, Peckham SE15 4AR.

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