While Lower Clapton's Chatsworth Road has been described as the 'frontline of gentrification', little note has been made of the independent businesses cropping up on Lower Clapton Road - Riley of Clapton Social Club, the Clapton Hart, Blue Tit, Hunt and Darton, Dreyfus Cafe have all joined longer timers like Il Guscio, Biddle Bros and Palm 2 in the last year.
It's a pretty busy road, and it sometimes feels like every bus serving North East London passes through. You get the feeling that most people in the hood traverse Lower Clapton Road and so you see all walks of life going about their business. The people watching is excellent.
Despite the traffic, I love Lower Clapton Road. It has amazingly preserved grand Victorian and Georgian buildings designed for a proper shopping street. I've seen some lovely old photos recently, and when I squint now I can imagine the road back in the early 19th century.
So it's really awesome that 119 Lower Clapton, a big windowed cafe has opened in the epicentre of it all. You can sit there for hours, drinking great coffee and watching the world go by. It's a beautiful big open bright space - shades of white and grey, utilitarian simple furniture, nice plants.And lots and lots of light.
119 Lower Clapton are keeping things simple: they really specialise in coffee, and you can tell. I think this is some of the best in Clapton (and that's saying something). They use Workshop for their espressos, and happy to chat coffee paraphernalia and technique with my partner (phew!).
They do nice cakes, croissants and sandwiches, and this weekend they moved in the Clapton Brunch Market. It's a simple but effective offer: coddled eggs. Somewhere between boiled, steamed and baked, the eggs are served in a tumbler, topped with lots of fresh herbs, with crusty, herby, salty toasted sourdough - effectively a crouton.
I opted for a red pepper and prosciutto coddled egg, and Pete ordered one with spinach, chestnut mushrooms and comte. The egg was nice and runny, but neatly contained within the beaker - it was almost like a warm, flavoursome egg sauce, with lovely bits of salty, sweet prosciutto, crunchy pepper and toasted seeds. It was nice breaking up the crouton-like bread and immersing it in the egg, soaking up all the eggy flavours.
It was just their first day doing brunch, but I hope they stick to it - a tasty and different take on eggy brunch. There were a few other options too - granola with poaches pear, toasts, etc.
I've called Hackney the Brunch Capital of London elsewhere, and it's just got an interesting new addition. Check it out folks!