Fuck Time Out is a series profiling the caf’s, barber shops, family-owned Italian’s and old man pubs that, against the odds, are standing strong against the pug pop-ups and self-service cereal cafe’s in London.
By Alice Austin
I haven’t been in about 3 years but I’ve looked it up and Café House Restaurant is still standing, despite Elephant & Castle being one of the most quickly gentrified areas in London – The Heygate Estate is often used as a case study for these discussions. But, as we know, Fuck Time Out isn’t about slagging off or finger-pointing (it is), it’s about supporting the places still standing, so without further ado, let me explain the institution, the entity, the anomaly that is
CAFÉ HOUSE RESTAURANT
First, the name. Is it a café, a house or a restaurant? The answer is obviously, yes. It is all three of those things. It is a café in the sense that it serves all sorts of café foods. It is a house in the sense that it is decorated with strange, unmatched wall hangings and pictures that seem to have been stolen from a medley of dental offices, Chinese takeaways and your aunt’s spare room. It is a restaurant in the sense that it also serves every dinner your mum ever made you, available at any time of day. Chicken Kiev’s, spaghetti Bolognese, bangers and mash. You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner here every day for the rest of your life and not get bored. The menu is extensive and the photographs slapped arbitrarily next to various dishes would make Mrs Instagram turn in her grave (if Instagram was a dead, married woman).
Next, the lay out. Café House Restaurant is cavernous. It stretches back as far as the eye can see. I have never personally been to the back of Café House Restaurant, but I’m sure if I were to it would take me at least 40 seconds to walk there which is quite a long time, really.
Tables and chairs are fixed to the ground in clusters of four. You can’t move them and that is okay, although the clusters of four are slightly too close together so you may end up either having to manoeuvre your way past a homeless person or have a homeless person manoeuvre their way past you. Either way, not a problem.
The food is good. A bacon sandwich is at a high standard and the full English breakfast is also delicious. I’ll admit I haven’t tried the entire menu but if some media outlet want to pay me to go to Café House Restaurant and review the minutiae of each and every dish over the course of a month, I’d be happy to. The prices are air-punchingly reasonable. Sandwiches are under £3, a full roast dinner is around £6. The most expensive thing on the menu is probably about £7 but, to be honest, they don’t have a menu online, nor a website, so I can’t be sure.
Surprisingly, despite there being a suspiciously McDonalds-esque counter to order from, Café House Restaurant provides table service and has a team of slightly weary staff who, none-the-less, are friendly and employed and note down the orders correctly and bring them over in a timely fashion. I’ve never experienced bad service at Café House Restaurant, nor had to wait for a table.
So there you have it. Next time you’re on Walworth Road and fancy a bite to eat, sack off that pop-up made of containers that’s full of artisan burger vans and crochet workshops and head straight to Café House Restaurant; where dreams don’t come true but they sure as hell try.