Brunswick House Cafe has been on my to visit list right from the beginning of my blogging days, languishing amongst an eclectic list of names in the front of my little note book. I often glance at those words, different formations of ink leaping out at different times, fading in and out of focus. An occasional article, review or Tweet refocusing my attention and drawing me back to those on my list I have yet to visit, as others get crossed off, and others disappear completely off my radar. Brunswick House Cafe is run by Jackson Boxer whose brother is Frank of the infamous Frank’s Campari bar on top of a multi-storey car park in Peckham, he also happens to be opening Rita’s in Dalston at the end of this week. The cafe has popped into my subconsious many times but has somehow too often been bumped out each time by newer, more convenient places, or falls by the wayside of whatever trendy pop-up I’m chasing after at the time. So when Katy suggested it as our Saturday coffee/brunch venue, I wholeheartedly lept at her suggestion; perfect!
Housed in a Georgian building along the highly unlikely location of Wandsworth Road, off a dangerously busy main road on Vauxhall roundabout. It’s so unlikely, I have a moment of panic when I can’t find it, and furiously check the address on my phone, that confirms yes, it really is around here somewhere. I finally realise I’m standing on the wrong side of the road, make a life endangering dash across that busy road, and enter the cafe with a minute to spare, just as they’re printing out todays menu. The interior strikes me immediately as an amazing venue for a party or wedding having, as it does, an air of faded glamour and quirky grandeur as that other incredible venue Castle Gibson, whose secret downstairs bar Ruby’s prevails high amongst my shifting list of appealing names. The exterior stands out then like a sore thumb amongst the industrial greyness all around, brick walls are mosaiced with vintage signs and bunting flies from the front.
The entrance leads into a casual cafe/bar that gives a glimpse into what the rest of the building will reveal, a glimmer of the quirkily beautiful interior. I loiter here for a little whilst I wait for my friend to arrive, the feel is distinctively retro with dineresque/gas station artifacts, a row of large hanging lights, and a bar topped with cakes that sets the scene for what would be a perfect spot for a casual coffee and sweet thing, or an evening of cocktails. My friend arrives, and as we follow our waitress into the dining room, both sigh in unison. The large room is village fête on acid; gorgeous reclaimed vintage furniture fills the room, giant mirrors and paintings line the walls, whilst grand chandeliers hang from the ceiling along with more of that bunting. Oh and random objects too; a row of wooden chairs, yes hanging from the ceiling, gorgeous lanterns, I look up at one point to find what looks like an oversized hammer poised above me. The back of the room is home to a stage, reinforcing that church hall, fête feeling, I almost expect the staff to emerge from the wings in vintage outfits and launch into an amateur Shakespearean production.
Having drunk in as much of the surroundings as we can, attention turns to the menu. We’re here on a late Saturday morning, and their daily changing menu is a a brunchers delight, we struggle hugely over our decisions, swaying between sweet and savoury before deciding to go savoury and share a dessert if we can squeeze one in (of course we can). My salt beef dish hits the spot beautifully; tender, flaky, pink meat is dressed with plenty of mustard and lounges on a bed of beef dripping toast coated in a thick layer of finely grated cheese; a deconstructed reuben if you will. My friend is equally pleased with her roasted tomatoes on aioli topped toast with bacon and rocket. Our dessert is a stroke of breakfast genius; chewy, slightly sour and sugary sourdough doughnut is filled with refreshing yoghurt and apricot compote, that tempers the sweetness nicely and turns it into something almost brekkie appropriate, and looks pleasingly (to me) like a little doughy oyster shell. Although we’re not presented with a drinks menu we both automatically order our regular choices anyway; coffee is from Coleman, and though not the best I’ve tasted, still perfectly good.
What starts as an empty dining room when we arrive at 11, has well and truly filled up by the time we’re sated, which considering it’s undeniably odd location, must be on merit of it’s reputation. We waddle out to have a nose around the architectural salvage shop that inhabits the rest of the building owned by Lassco, in fact the cafe is really part of the shop, as everything in the room is also for sale, denoted by many dangling price tags. We browse room after themed room of things I want to take home with me; from grand dining spaces decked out with more chandeliers, heavy duty tables, chairs and antique mirrors, through another packed with bottles, jugs, beautiful printing blocks, we rummage through bins of copper letters, and finish at the top of the building in a charming room filled with miniature furniture and childrens toys. Miraculously I leave empty handed.
I need to go back to consume a large portion of the very reasonably priced and very good looking cocktail list, I fear my chances of escaping without arms full of souveneirs after a few drinks though….