Reviewed: Earl Grey & Rose, Streatham Hill

On our first ever walk up Leigham Court Road towards our new flat, we passed this quaint little cafe-cum-jewellery shop. The bottom of this road is a random combo of the usual shops – newsagents, barbers, charity shop and a restaurant called the Dorchester that looks like it’s in a time warp (we’re SO visiting there soon).

Earl Grey & Rose sticks out – the pale blue shop sign, windows stuffed with looks-good-enough-to-eat cakes and bakes (just as well, of course). We’ve lived in Streatham for a month and this was our first opportunity to visit.

No detail has been spared – you’ve got bunting, jam jars, rows of teapots and homemade chutney (more on that later), and a miss mash of shabby-chic tables and chairs, not to mention Radio 2 in the background (pleasingly it was Tony Blackburn’s show, which fitted the vintage feel rather nicely).

So, food. We had:

*Brie, bacon and avocado sandwich (£4.50). You could choose between white, granary and rosemary/olive oil bread, and toasted or not. We went for rosemary/olive oil, plus toasted (who can resist the melty texture of brie?).

*Ploughman’s (£7.50)  – choose between a huge variety of cheeses, then whether you want it as it is or half and half (that’d be with a helping of ham).

*Strawberry cupcake. Choose between various basic but delicious flavours, all made that day – lemon, blueberry, chocolate etc. All delicately decorated, as you’d expect…

*We washed it down with Victorian Lemonade and elderflower cordial – hardly their fault, but I always think these bottles are way too tiny for the price sold and the amount you really want. I’d finished mine before our food even arrived.

We only waited around ten mins for our orders. Everything was in huge servings, garnished with soft lettuce leaves (none of the leftover stalky stuff you’re reluctant to gnaw on), and a syrupy honey/mustard/balsamic style dressing. When we say huge, we mean it. Check out the HUGE chunks of ham!

Delicate enough to tear apart easily with a fork, there was actually another layer of the stuff underneath the lettuce, pictured. The gherkins and pickled onions were a fab traditional touch, and the homemade chutney was sweet with a pleasingly sharp aftertaste. You can buy the stuff to take home, too.

The sandwich didn’t lack any ingredient, and the bacon was also substantial and fat-free. Quite frankly, we were too full for the cupcake but we did our duty and gobbled it up. See, strawberries all the way inside too…

Our lunch came to just under £20 – we won’t need to eat until dinner now. It wasn’t as busy as the likes of Lavish Habit, which surprised us. Perhaps because it’s not quite in the hub of Streatham, we don’t know. Do make a visit though. The relaxing environment let us take a step out of our hectic lives, if only for an hour…

Enq: Earl Grey & Rose, 1 Streatleigh Parade, SW16 1EQ.

SJ revisits The Vintage Event

We made our first visit to The Vintage Event since November and it made for a fun afternoon browsing. Making an appearance every second Sunday of the month at the Balham Bowls Club, February’s slot saw a wedding themed fair that went down very well. This month’s didn’t seem to have a particular theme but was chock-full of the usual clothing, accessories, furniture and miscellaneous items, plenty of which had good deals – £10 each, ‘2 for £15’ on items of clothing. Personally we’re more partial to home products and handbags – we’re not built for most vintage items – we could spend hours browsing items that are much easier to store/wear.

Particular favourite stalls include one held by a lovely lady named Barbara. She has spent the last few years cultivating a collection of brooches (above) and household items (she didn’t name her sources, fair play) to sell on. Among her collection we spotted a lot of glamourous gaming fare – Patience cards set, two packs of cards presented in an ornate box, poker dice, olive forks, fancy teaspoons and sweetie tins. Our little buy from this stall? This floral tea caddy, £6. No, we don’t need it, but that’s hardly the point.

The other notable stall this time is Joanie’s Junk, particularly the bags. Lots of detailing and handles featured; nothing you’ll really find on the high street.

The prices err on the higher end but don’t let that put you off – these bags will be earning you compliments for ages.

For more vintage delights, see our first review of The Vintage Event and our peek into Annie In The Attic.

Annie In The Attic, Balham High Road

We’ve been meaning to visit and post this blog for ages, ever since our visit to The Vintage Event at The Balham Bowls Club whet our appetites for more vintage fare. It’s well hidden on the high street, save for a placard on the pavement advertising the shop above a hairdressers (indeed, in an attic).

The first thing that struck us was the space – so many vintage shops cram everything in making it really hard to browse properly. Clothing and furniture are almost treated like art, and the attic itself is light and airy.

Annie In The Attic (the girls behind The Vintage Event) are a mother and daughter team who share the task of sourcing and selling. The mother has an eye for 60s vintage while the daughter often picks up fashion finds from the 80s to sell, so you’re guaranteed a fab mix of fashion.

Prices vary as you’ll find some unique pieces there and the pricing can reflect this. There’s a rail of wedding attire to the right of the store and we spotted the most fabulous shift dress with real ostrich feathers, not dissimilar to a Louise Vuitton number as modelled by Kate Moss. We doubt it’s there now – indeed a recent, heart-broken customer had to leave it on the rail as she couldn’t quite fit into it, otherwise it would have been long gone before we got there.

During our visit we snapped up an old find displayed in one of their cabinets – a King Edward VIII coronation commemorative mug. At £8, it’s not a bad price for a bit of history that didn’t quite happen.

Annie In The Attic, Balham High Road, SW12 9AP

Reviewed: Brunch at Lavish Habit

Every time a shop shuts in Balham we wait with baited breath for what will replace it. The replacement of M&S Simply Food and Woolworths with identikit bargain shops (don’t get us wrong, there is definitely a time and a place for them but three in one town? Bit overkill) led us to think this was a growing theme with our empty shops.

Lavish Habit combines good food and the best of shopping; a cosy, calm environment and items you instantly start mentally placing in your home. It reminds us of that old coffee shop chain that used to change its merchandise every month under a different theme. The naff navy/yellow colour way and same-old drinks menu left a lot to be desired, though.

There’s nothing uniform about Lavish Habit; the chairs are mis-matched, as are the tea cups. Every detail has been thought through but it doesn’t look too try-hard. If you’re not keen on slightly wobbly tables and having to share space with strangers, it might not be your thing. We embraced it – and even swapped newspapers with our neighbour once we were done with our Saturday morning read.

The shop:  Beyond the main room is the garden area, splashed with bold colours to perk any dreary British weather conditions, plus downstairs lies a den of vintage treats akin to rummaging through your Grandma’s loft. Products aren’t cheap; expect to pay high prices for original vintage furniture, boutique-style gifts and new clothing. However it’s a pleasure to browse through the well thought out shop and a treat to buy. We really like the cute birthday cards they sell there – understated and at competitive prices to mainstream high street shops.

The food: LH’s brunch menu is modest yet varying; whether you’re dieting or after a carb fix, there’s something for you. We opted for a cheese and ham croissant, and pancakes with honey, yogurt and berries. Together with tea and coffee cost around £12, it’s brilliant value for the healthy portion sizes – there’s no scrimping on any ingredients.

This post is a lot longer than we intended but it just goes to show how much Lavish Habit has to offer. Part of the charm is that every time we’ve visited there’s new merchandise and as well as the classic brunch dishes, there are menu changes in alignment to the seasons. Any excuse to keep going back for more…

Enq: Lavish Habit, 75 Bedford Hill, SW12 9HA.

SwishJunction visits The Vintage Event

The Vintage Event came back to town yesterday and didn’t disappoint. Dotted around the pub and taking over the upstairs room were stalls boasting items spanning several decades from the 40s right up to the 80s (how old will we all feel when the 90s eventually becomes ‘vintage’?). It’s not just clothing either; browsers could find soft furnishings and other homeware too. Everything was authentic; we got very excited when we spotted some Mary Quant hoisery. A cute extra was the Mother’s Ruin Gin & Tea room on offer; the cakes were not modest in size and the tea (naturally) served in vintage cup and saucers. As well as all this, one redeeming feature that stood out for us was the price. We find many vintage items have rather hefty (and off-putting) price tags but there was a fantastic range of prices that didn’t alienate the budget conscious. What did we get? A beautiful mini cake stand at £4.50 (from Tea-licious) and two small glass decanters for £5.

Result. There aren’t many places where you can shop and drink at the same time, after all.

(Ps really wish we’d purchased that GORGEOUS clutch on the top left of the main pic…sigh)

The Vintage Event is back at the Balham Bowls Club on 11th December, 12pm-6pm, free entry.