This Trendy Brunch Restaurant Has Opened In A Very Unlikely Area Of South London
South London's Walworth Road seems to have stood still in time while the areas around it developed. Despite the odd closure, and a couple of openings like Korean fried chicken joint CheeMc, it has largely resisted the changes seen in Herne Hill, Camberwell, Vauxhall and Elephant.
We were surprised, then, to learn of the opening of Louie Louie, a frankly incongruous brunch spot slap-bang in the middle of the strip. Sitting opposite the legendary Oli's Turkish supermarket, it sticks out for its trendy décor as much as the community of entirely white middle-class diners inside.
We must admit, we hadn't expected it to be so busy, having forgotten that this area is stuffed with students and locals who neither want to hop on a bus into town or head further south into Peckham or Camberwell for their weekend hangover cure.
It comes from the guys who own Fowlds, an adorable villagey café just a little further towards Camberwell. On the surface, Louie Louie is the kind of place we avoid — plenty of high waisted stonewash denim, lots of egg yolk drooling across avocado and a menu full of 'twists' on classics... except we couldn't hate it, actually, because the food is really rather good.
OK, there are plenty of teething problems. We wait an absurdly long time at the door, for example, watching a server laboriously explain the reasons behind their clipboard-pinched waiting list and no-reservations system. We also waited a very long time for food to arrive, and the service, in general could do with a vigorous buff.
We start with a persimmon and lime salad, which is actually rather lovely, and a more confident hand with the lime and salt would realise its potential. Baked eggs are for two to share, and the white version we order is filthy rich, loaded with ricotta, spinach and pools of cream. They've attempted to counteract the richness with a side salad of fennel, capers, almonds parsley and… avocado. A great idea, which would be much improved without the avocado. No one should ever attempt to deal with avocado and capers in the same mouthful.
A bacon sandwich comes with the added satisfaction of black pudding, and a plum ketchup (another 'twist') which lacks punch and would be better replaced with one of the two traditional sauces. Sourdough also fails to contain the ingredients, but we feel it'll be a long hard road to convincing people there is better breakfast sandwich bread. Keep the sourdough for toast and give us a decent soft white, FFS.
Still, these crinkles can be smoothed over, and there are worse ways to do that than by sinking their excellent cocktails. The bloody mary with pomegranate molasses is properly spicy, donkey kicking our throats into morning shape. A Salty Dog makes appropriate use of orange bitters and is a fresh, well-judged way to ease towards lunchtime.
Around us, a standard brunch crowd lingers — couples wearing clothes which nod towards 1990s computer games; groups of mates, gritty-eyed and grubby and the odd awkward student-with-parents combo. Louie Louie has tapped into a community that was waiting in the wings to be served, and at 1pm they're constantly turning people away. What they've identified seems less of a gap, more a whacking great sinkhole in the market; we wonder what the next few years will bring.
Louie Louie, 347 Walworth Road, SE17 2AL. Londonist was invited to a preview of Louie Louie.
Last Updated 21 February 2017