26 January 2013

The Caffeine Chronicles: 124 Coffee House

Update: 124 Coffee House is permanently closed, as of 2013.

Before Christmas, I mentioned that I'd been trying to check out the coffee and brunch situation at 124 Coffee House on Bermondsey Street, but it never seemed to be open on the days I was in need of brunch. The hours are a little more consistent now, though, and I stopped by today today on my way to the river.

124 on Bermondsey Street: coffee, brunch, etc.

It was busy but not so busy that I couldn't get a table. People who were coming in just for a coffee were, however, being offered take-out or turned away. I assume this is only during the lunchtime rush. There are maybe a dozen small tables, with the kitchen and coffee bar area nestling underneath a gorgeous glass, domed ceiling. I ordered a double skinny macchiato while I contemplated the very tempting brunch menu. 124 use Ozone coffee and my macchiato tasted good. A bit milkier than I prefer, but not to the point of overpowering the coffee.

Double macchiato

Although the food choices sounded interesting, the menu itself looked like it could have done with some input from a graphic designer, which surprised me because the exterior and the chalkboard signs all looked very much in keeping with a trendy cafe on Bermondsey Street. I thought about having the 124 muffin (English muffin with grilled chorizo slices, fresh rocket, two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce), but it was always going to be the English-style pancakes with maple-glazed crispy pancetta and maple syrup; there are also a couple of fruity pancake options, and all three are £5.50. In fact, everything on the brunch menu is between £4.50 and £7.50, which is quite reasonable for Bermondsey Street. English-style pancakes turned out to be halfway between the über-thick American pancakes and the très chic French crêpes, and two of them turned out to be just about the right amount of food for me for Saturday brunch. The bacon was delicious, although an extra rasher wouldn't have gone amiss. I would also have liked to have a tiny jug of maple syrup to decant myself, rather than having the pancakes pre-doused, but this didn't detract from the taste.

The delicious pancakes with bacon and maple syrup

All in all, it was a successful brunch and I'll definitely back to try some of the other dishes or to grab a coffee. 124 have also started opening up as a bar on Friday evenings, and they are planning to convert the back section into a sort of restau-bar with foodie credentials (though not foodie pretensions), giving the sort of all-day, casual dining I like so much. It may currently be in a transitionary phase, but it's still a great place for a low-key brunch.

124. 124 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3TX (Tube: London Bridge or Borough). Facebook. Twitter.

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