Cafe Viva has been open a short while now and I made it my mission to visit, as not only a South East London dweller, but an ex Peckham Rye resident, it’s always pleasing to see good coffee shops popping up this side of the river. Peckham has been good to me, and so I was thrilled that it had, by all records, a really decent new cafe. I meant to write this up a number of weeks ago but I lost all my photos when my phone was stolen (yes again) so popped back on a half day this week to recapture it.
What I find is a sweet little cafe just off the absolute barminess of Peckham’s Rye Lane, the atmosphere soothing, comforting and pretty as a dreamy watercolour picture, a dramatic juxtaposition to it’s immediate surroundings. Kitted out simply behind a duck egg shell blue exterior, and I want to say somewhat naively here, but maybe that’s that contrast I’m appreciating again, service is gentle and friendly. Although the walls are bare brickwork and chalkboards are mounted for marking prices and specials, it doesn’t feel in the slightest try hard or ‘trendy’, formica tables, retro crockery and fresh flowers complete the scene, there’s a snapshot print of the Peckham Wall of Love above a fireplace to warm ones cockles, aaah lovely.
On my first visit I’m famished, choose a foccacia roll filled with roasted red pepper, hummous and mozzarella, I ask for bacon to beef it up, but am given such a reproachfull look that tells me in no uncertain terms that I’m a complete and utter heathen (in the nicest possible way of course) for suggesting they combine pig with their vege friendly concoction, I back off and accept a compromise of mozzarella. On a cold and miserable second visit I just wanted something simple and comforting, I find it in a cheese and ham toastie; hand sliced bread stuffed with thick slices of proper ham and good cheddar (reaching the edges properly, these are the things I notice and make me happy) before being subjected to a griddle, I’m given a bottle of Heinz and I’m satisfied, sometimes simplicity is all you want and here it’s done with care. Coffee is made using Volcano beans that are roasted locally, and again there’s a real care in the execution and service, my espresso’s are rich and sweet.
A modern cafe with old fashioned ideals. Go. You’ll be well looked after.