Eating on the ELL – Brockley

In a post-Tayyabs haze on Sunday, I completely neglected to write my first instalment of Eating on the East London Line to coincide with its full opening, but even though you’re all probably sick of hearing about the glorious ELL by now, I’m still going to post it. Anyway, it’s a post that will keep on giving beyond the initial fanfare, should you ever find yourself hungry and south of Dalston Junction.

First up is Brockley, for no better reason than I live there, so know all the tastiest haunts.

The Toad’s Mouth Too

As I have mentioned here before, The Toad is such a hidden gem, you could easily miss it. During the day, they offer tasty home-made mezze, sandwiches, and proper lunches (Moussakka, Shepherd’s Pie et al) for a rather reasonable £3-9. At the weekend (or probably all week should you have your mornings free) they do brilliant breakfast food, from granola and vegan yoghurt to a full shebang fry-up with scrambled eggs and bacon baguettes in between. At nearly £8, I find the fry-up a little steep, but it is massive, and made with top-notch ingredients, so won’t leave you disappointed even at that price. With a gorgeous garden and airy dining rooms and conservatory, it’s a great place to nurture a hangover with the Sunday papers. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings the food really comes into its own with fancy gastro-fayre at around £17 for 3 courses. More on that here.


After getting into a local jerk conversation on the twitter with Helen from Food Stories, I proclaimed a personal mission to try as many SE jerk haunts as possible and transform myself into a jerk connoisseur. Of the few I have tried in Brockley/New Cross (not including the lauded Smoky Jerky, which I’m yet to get to) Nu-Spice is by far my favourite. Opting for a gooey slow-cooked chicken, grilled indoors (the shock, but wait!) theirs doesn’t have the same BBQ flavour as a lot of jerk, but what it lacks in smoke it makes up for everywhere else. The obviously home-made marinade and sauce is herby, spicy, sticky and completely lacking in the sugary, ketchup texture I have found elsewhere.  The thick mayonnaise, with a hint of all-spice that enrobes the chunky shreds of cabbage, onion and carrot in their coleslaw makes it some of the best I have ever tasted and their rice and peas are always top notch. Even better, a large jerk chicken meal, priced at £6, is plenty for 2.

The Orchard

The Orchard opened less than a year ago, but has already gained a reputation as somewhere for good, high-end pub food (see pan-fried Sea Bass rather than deep-fried cod). It’s probably one of the swankiest pubs in Brockley, and as such, can feel a little bit Herne Hill at times (children.everywhere.) but if you go at a child-unfriendly time, it’s a great place for a pint and some dinner in pleasant surroundings. The constantly changing menu features fresh, simple pasta and risotto dishes for around £7 and bigger meaty/fishy meals for around £12-15, all cooked to order in their open-view kitchen. There’s also a lighter menu which includes a delicious bruschetta for around £4.  There’s nothing groudbreaking about The Orchard’s menu, but the food is always well cooked, with good quality, fresh ingredients, which is really all you want sometimes.

Smile’s Thai Cafe

The fact that this casual little Thai eaterie, tucked away on one of Brockley’s quiet residential streets has been filling up all weekend for a good few years now is testament to how good their food is, especially with another Thai restaurant just around the corner on the high street. You won’t find much here that you don’t get in most Thai places, but you will find those old favourite dishes such as Tom Yum soup, Pad Thai and spicy, wide flat rice noodles done really well for tiny prices. Their stir-fry tofu dishes are esp good, featuring crunchy-fried, firm chunks of tofu, with crisp veg, in light sauces that are bursting with spice and flavour. It’s also BYO, so I’ve never had a massive feast for two at Smiles cost more than £20.

Brown’s of Brockley

I’ve heard on the grapevine that the mastermind behind Brown’s came from the much lauded Monmouth Coffee Company, and while I have never had this confirmed from the horse’s mouth, the coffee alone is a giveaway. As a non-milk-drinker, I am unable to testify the quality of their latte/flat white (the queues do that for them), but their black americano is smooth, rich, deep and without the hint of bitterness that really gives away a shit coffee. To accompany their drinks, a fine range of cakes, pastries, home-made scotch eggs and sandwiches are available, including Brick Lane Beigels, plain or filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese at the weekend. They also stock a variety of farm produce such as meat, cheese and whatever owner Ross gets his hands on. Keep an eye on their Twitter for updates on specials.

3 Responses to “Eating on the ELL – Brockley”

  1. monkeyboy Says:

    have you not tried the little vietnamese place next to Nu-Spice? good little place.

  2. Kim Says:

    Ooohh love this, will defo be venuturing up to brockley for food soon! X

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