Brickwood Coffee and Bread is just a couple of doors along from Clapham Common stalwart, Black Lab. The new kid on the block arrived at the end of this summer with a burst of social media activity. Fortunately, the reality lived up to the virtual hype.
For starters, Brickwood is a lovely place. As one would expect from the name, the interior is all brick and wood: exposed brick walls, bare floorboards, a wooden counter and lots of wooden tables. The ceiling, although not brick or wood, is amazing, made up of a patchwork of old coffee sacks. If you don’t fancy sitting in the main area there’s a large, secluded garden and a basement, which has a very different character from upstairs.
Brickwood serves a fairly standard espresso-based menu using London-roaster Caravan’s Market Blend, a great all-round coffee. There’s a good range of sandwiches and an extensive brunch menu, as well as what looked to be an excellent range of cake. However, I was there for brunch and wasn’t able to sample any (although judging by the rate at which the cakes were going, that didn’t seem to be putting most people off!).
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
I visited Brickwood Coffee and Bread on a very rainy Sunday lunchtime just before Christmas, drawn by the brunch menu and easy access to the Northern Line (the station is just up the road). Although very busy, the wait for a table was extremely short and the six serving-staff managed everything very efficiently, which made the visit stress-free. This was probably helped by the little notice at the front: “please wait to be seated”. Brickwood is that rarest of things in a coffee shop, full table service. So instead of a free-for-all for tables, there was instead an orderly wait.
Although Brickwood looks very small from the outside, it’s surprisingly big, stretching back a long way from the street. There’s also a basement, a bench out front and a large garden at the back. A floor-to-almost ceiling window, coupled with smaller windows at the back ensure that the main area is well-lit despite its narrow layout.
Coming in, you are met with the counter to your left, cakes to the fore, and a very fetching light green La Marzocco just behind it. There is a small bar in the window and another just to your right. Opposite the counter is a row of three high tables, while at the back is a slightly raised seating area with six two-person tables (which is where I ended up sitting).
Downstairs is very different in character, set up more like a home office. There is Wifi which stretches throughout the building, but the code is on the wall downstairs and the only power outlets are down here too. Things are more spaced-out downstairs, with four long four/six person tables, the seating provided by stools rather than chairs.
Outside at the back there are more tables in a pleasant, paved courtyard. Well, I assert it would have been pleasant if it hadn’t been pouring with rain. As it was, the courtyard was covered with a large marquee, so it was dry, but rather chilly. Although I volunteered to sit outside, the staff were very keen to keep everyone inside if they could. I suspect that in the summer it’s a lovely place to sit and drink coffee, sheltered from the busy road out front.
Brickwood uses Caravan’s Market Blend, an excellent coffee which goes very well with milk, so I had a flat white with my brunch. There is a sweetness to it that blends well with the milk, but without it dominating. I also had a straight espresso to round things off. As much as I like the Market Blend, I prefer it with milk. On its own, it is a little too sharp for my palette, although there was nothing wrong with my espresso, which was commendably short and came in a lovely little shot glass.
However, the main event for me was brunch. I had corn fritters, roast vegetables, haloumi and a poached egg (which brought Café Boscanova to mind). The fritters were lovely and went well with the haloumi and roast vegetables, making it an interesting twist/variant on the veggie breakfast. This being Brickwood Coffee and Bread, I felt obliged to have some toast as well (although I would have done anyway). This was excellent: sour-dough bread, very crisp on the outside, but without being dry. Highly recommended.
|16 CLAPHAM COMMON SOUTH SIDE • LAMBETH • LONDON • SW4 7AB|
|www.brickwoodlondon.com||+44 (0) 20 7819 9614|
|Monday||07:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Tables, Bench Outside|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 18:00||Food||Brunch, Sandwiches, Cake|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 18:00||Service||Table|
|Thursday||07:00 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa (£0.25 surcharge)|
|Friday||07:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Power||Downstairs only|
|Sunday||09:00 – 18:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||No||Visits||15th December 2013|
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