Saturday, 16 March 2013

Upper Clapton Brunch

It might be a fair comment to say I spend too much time in Clapton, and write too many blogs about the eating options here. Truth be told, I can be pretty lazy when the weekend arrives and all I want to do is potter around the neighbourhood.

If you look at my Hackney brunch map, you can see that much of the brunchification is going on in certain pockets - Chatsworth Road, Stoke Newington Church Street, Dalston, Lower Clapton Road. So it was with interest when I heard that an old tram depot north of Leabridge Roundabout in Upper Clapton was being converted into an art space and cafe.

So on one rare recent sunny Sunday morning we briskly crossed the Leabridge Road to the Tram Depot Cafe.

First impressions were positive. It was quiet, but very bright and light - a stunning space with vaulted ceilings, original parquet flooring, big stable-like doors painted a beautiful green. Squint (hard) and you might just imagine a scene from the 1930s, working men of East London working on the trams. Coolicon lampshades dangle down, metro tiles adorn the wall, some artfully arranged kilner jars on industrial scaffolding - check, check, check.

I had a full english, which was tasty, but the portion felt slightly mean for the price and the quality (fine, but not exceptional) - one sausage, one rasher of bacon, beans extra? The toast was a good sourdough though. Pete had french toast with strawberry and bananas and was happy with it.

Coffees were decent - and I liked that they served my americano with a little jug of hot water to get the right strength for me.

The service left a little to be desired - the card machine wasn't working, none of the staff knew where the nearest cash machine was, the juicer wasn't working when we arrived. They said they would come and take our order when it was working, but didn't. And there was a 50 minute wait for the food, with only a few covers in the cafe - and this was a far from complicated order.

Happily the vibe was relaxed, good selection of newspapers and magazines (hey, Financial Times in Clapton!) and the decor excellent. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but feel that the place had much more potential than the current operation offered - a slightly prouder menu, more generous portions, tighter service. I worry that too many businesses are increasingly going to major on an aesthetic without quite delivering the substance. I hope they realise its a crowded market and up their offer!

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