The Brockley Mess: Opens Today

The Brockley Mess is due to open at some point today.

Situated near the corner of Brockley Road and Adelaide Road, the new cafe replaces the much-loved Moonbow Jakes. BCers began to report glimpses of green tiles and varnished wood as opening day drew nearer.

Last night, we received this message from Raymond, the proprietor of The Brockley Mess and Royal Teas in Greenwich:

"It is very late on Monday night and I have just got back from The Brockley Mess doing some finishing touches for our opening on Tuesday 15th September. We will be opening tomorrow as long as the crockery arrives in the morning - by 10.30 a.m. they assure me!

"There will still be some things we have not yet finalised but as quick as one seems to accomplish the current list one is concocting yet another.

"Our opening times initially will be 8am - 7pm weekdays and 9am - 7pm weekends.

"Got to go to bed now. Have a big day tomorrow."

We plan to check it out as soon as possible, but in the mean time we're looking forward to hearing your reviews.

Good luck to Ray and welcome to Brockley.

219 comments:

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tyrwhitt ali said...

Turns out it's the right day to be working at home. I shall wonder down this afternoon!

Anonymous said...

If it's as charming as the Royal Teas Brockley should count itself very lucky.

Pete said...

I'm working from home on Thursday so I think I'll go there for lunch provided the delivery I'm waiting for has been made.

Brockley Kate said...

Woo! Might pop in this afternoon.

Sue said...

I walked passed last night and it was looking great - really light and airy, with lovely tiles and wallpaper - hope food is as enticing.

hawkeye said...

Sshhh!! One of those tiles is cracked....

Barry said...

Good work.

Anonymous said...

Just went past it, looks good (from what one can see through the door) but still very much closed...

Charlotte said...

Royal Teas is an absolute gem of place. All the food is home-made -- the breakfasts are yummy, the cakes delicous and there is a superb range of teas and coffees. Its also not very expensive. This is GREAT news for Brockley folk.

Simon and Olivia @Geddes said...

Wow-I am sure The Brockley Mess will be a great addition to the local area.
Olivia and I would like to wish Ray and his team every success in their new venture. It is great to see people having the confidence to invest in expanding their business in the current climate. Our team at Geddes are doing a Boot Camp in and around Brockley and Ladywell between 8am and 9am over the next two weeks in support of the NSPCC. Those of us on later shifts will be popping down to the Mess to have a well earned drink and hearty breakfast.
Simon & Olivia @Geddes Hairdressing & Beauty Therapy Ladywell

Brockley Kate said...

Simon & Olivia - I saw the piece about your fundraising in the SLP, and was just about to post something on this blog!

Simon and Olivia @Geddes said...

Thanks Kate, we always appreciate the support given us by Brockley Central.

Passer By said...

Yay! Just went in here as I was passing and saw it was open, we got beckoned in by friendly staff - on my way back from the Toads Mouth so I didn't actually stop for food or drinks but I was really impressed with the place.

There is loads of space and I loved the decor, the whole place feels airy and bright. The menu had some fabulous breakfast options like Eggs Benedict or a Breakfast Burrito as well as more standard fare, and they do a veggie and a meaty special every day too.

They had several high chairs and a tub of toys so the place is clearly baby friendly (I was there with a pram and there was room to move it) - the owner was lovely and proudly showed us the ladies loo where he is having a hand crafted non-plastic baby change table made! The loo had a chandelier in too so points all round! :-) Overall it had a similar feel to Jam Circus in that babies were welcome but it was a grown up place, if that makes sense.

Overall decor, ambience and general friendliness were great and the menu looked really good, all I need now is an opportunity to go back and taste something - I have made a date with my friend to meet there on Thursday so we shall see. Good luck to them, I am hoping to become a regular!

Brockley Nick said...

Sounds great! Thanks for the report.

I said...

Ray, if you've got time to read this, any chance of uploading a pdf/scan of your menu at some point?

Brockley Nick said...

I'l happily post one if it's sent to me.

Paddyom said...

This is fantasic news - welcome to the area Ray and well done on opening a new venture in the current economic climate! I am sure the people of Brockley will support your business, I know I certainly will. In fact now i know you are open until 7pm tonight I will drop in for a coffee on my way home from work tonight (more to be nosey than for the coffee of course!).

Anonymous said...

Braved the rain and went for a late lunch - not a huge selection for lunch (many more options for breakfast/brunch) but the courgette/feta pie I had was lovely, proper (leaf) tea and the "brockley mess" pudding (choc brownie, vanilla ice cream & raspberry coulis) which I couldn't resist trying was delicious! Slightly eclectic decor but then that suits Brockley. The staff were friendly and the prices reasonable. I shall certainly be returning!

Brockley Kate said...

Just got back from a civilised afternoon tea with Tyrwhitt Ali, and I can report that it is indeed top stuff. The Earl Grey and lemon cake both passed inspection, and I'm thrilled that they've got eggs benedict on the menu (though it's probably not good news for my waistline ...)

Staff were lovely, and there were plenty of other people in there already, plus lots of interest from passers-by.

There's a garden outside which they're going to be doing up over the winter, so it will be lovely next spring.

All in all, absolutely fantastic.

Oh, and they serve wines and beers so you could have something a bit more 'refreshing' than a coffee on your way back from work, Paddyom!

graeme said...

Terrific brunch menu! Eggs ben', florentine, full English, french toast, and many others. I was going to suggest they knock up a huevos rancheros al forno , but the tex-mex angle gets satisfied with burritos and huevos bravas instead. I'd had my lunch anyway so went for the cheapskate cyclist's standby of a scone with delicious clotted cream and a coffee. Should have smuggled out a menu but thought it would be bad form this early on (and I don't have a scanner)

There are a couple of giant prints of children in a Brockley School dining hall c1931 on the wall too, to complete the eclectic look, and to identify the place with SE4. A nice touch.

9/10 so far

tyrwhitt ali said...

I'd add to Brockley Kate's post that my huevos bravas and latte were lovely. Now if only I didn't feel like going to sleep now instead of working....

Baritone English Villain said...

Do they have wifi?

Anonymous said...

I just had some of the chocolate cake and it's as tasty as the stuff at Royal Teas, though 20p more a portion at £2.00, still v. good value given the size of the portions.

Anonymous said...

Yes it does have wifi. And they are finishing the garden at the moment too. Its really a lovely cafe and the staff were so helpful. The menu is great and prices reasonable (esp the wine which starts at a tenner a bottle!). I Love it already and know i will be a regular!

Ray - this is not criticism at all but if you are looking for suggestions, I would reccomend the following: 1. some background music, I felt slightly like I should whisper; 2. open later in the evenings perhaps (Moonbows was regularly busy in the arvos, esp aon Fridays/weekends); 3. A meat version of the breakfast burrito - had 'em when I was in the states, amazing.

Well done on a class cafe and I hope you do really well!!

Sue said...

Just come back from having tea and cake there and can report that they do a delicious gluten-free,vegan orange cake. With 6 types of cake to choose from, it could be a dilemma choosing which one to go for. When I left they were trying to close but loads of people were still coming in to have a look and welcome them to the area, which was rather nice I thought.

graeme said...

"Situated on.... Adelaide Road"

Goes by the name of Adelaide Avenue these days, old bean.

Do I win a Brockley Mess pudding for spotting your deliberate error?

Baritone English Villain said...

Went there for breakfast today and it was a really nice start to the day. Very busy but still room for everyone to sit and they coped very well given it's only day two. The coffee was great and the eggs benedict were delicious.

So pleased to have them so near the house. Highly recommended.

Olivia and Simon @ Geddes Hairdressin and Beauty Therapy said...

We popped in today following our early morning workout and found the place to be beautifully decorated and running efficiently. Our breakfasts were tasty with a good choice. The service was excellent and the coffee was great.
This is exactly what Brockley/Ladywell has needed for some time and hopefully it iwll encourage others to follow their lead re investing in premises locally.
Well done and good luck Ray and team in your new venture.

quick brown fox said...

Just had lunch there, and can add my voice to the universally positive reviews so far. Very good food and the service was great too. Nice ambiance and everything is crisp and clean.

Absolutely brilliant to have a good place to eat in this part of Brockley! I'm sure it will be a success.

Anonymous said...

Went there for lunch yesterday and it was great. Lovely staff providing great service and fantastic food. I had the roast vegetable and hummous baguette - top stuff!

It does need music though...but a minor criticism. I'll definitely be going back for breakfast this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Why does it need to have music? I tend to prefer coffee shops and cafes without music - it can be so intrusive.

quick brown fox said...

Hear hear - it's refreshing to go somewhere where you can have a conversation without a mandatory backing track.

TM2 doesn't have music, does it? That's presumably one of the reasons so many people go there and read their newspapers.

The Brockley Mess is easily the nicest eatery we've ever had in Brockley - I'd hate for them to gild the lily with background musak, or even worse, a radio station playing constantly...

quick brown fox said...

PS before I get shot down for my 'nicest eatery' comment, I'm really thinking of places to have lunch/coffee in the vicinity of Brockley Road - I'm fully aware there are some good places to eat in other parts of Brockley, even as close as Foxberry Road....

Headhunter said...

I was musing about this with someone a while ago. It seems that we need a constant soundtrack to life these days. Most shops, pubs and cafes etc have muzak playing unnecessarily.

I've also noticed that TV companies seem more and more afriad of silence. Wildlife programmes for example, constantly seem to have some twiddly music going throughout, David Attenborough documentaries back in the 80s didn't have this!

Same with drama, I have been watching the new David Suchet Poirot dramas and one thing I have noticed is the constant backing track for every scene that was not evident in the originals made in eth late 80s/early 90s.

Silence is golden sometimes.

graeme said...

Is eth the new teh? That's what i want to know.

Headhunter said...

Yes. I'm leading a spelling revolution....

Anonymous said...

YES IT DID...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/sep/08/life-on-earth-soundtrack

Nothing I like more than a bit of Coldplay while I eat my olives ;-)

Polster said...

I've just been for a coffee and would agree with all the positive comments so far. Love the decor, and there were lots and lots of enticing things on the menu. Although I didn't actually try anything on this occasion, I will definitely be going back soon. The breakfasts look particularly good. And although I do agree that muzak can be intrusive and annoying, and it's impossible to choose something that will appeal to all clients, I did find it quite echoey in there. Perhaps it's because of the polished concrete floor. I felt a little bit embarrassed by my children's voices and kept telling them to shush - they were only talking at normal child pitch but every noise seems to be amplified in there, including clattering plates etc. Not a big deal at all, simply an observation.

Anonymous said...

I do agree that some people do seem to need constant blare to live their lives (addictions to iPods and mobile-phone music). However I do like low volume background ‘coffee shop’ music in places like the B-Mess as I think if chosen carefully it creates a pleasant atmosphere. I certainly don’t mind silence however don’t particularly like silence in places like this, as I feel everyone can hear my conversation and vice versa. So I would also recommend some light background music please Raymondo! Other suggestions I would have if you are interested are; 1. a ‘coffee station’ where people can add their own milk and sugar for take away coffees – hate when they do it for you in coffee shops as its never ‘just right’; 2. more take away snacks and drinks like juices, posh crisps, healthy bars etc… maybe a take-away drinks fridge. This is not criticism though my friend just ideas, I love your new establishment, it’s really nice and I recommend it to all!

Anonymous said...

Hello, Tim from Brockley Mess here! Thanks for all the very positive comments. I know that Ray and Mel are keen to hear people's suggestions so keep 'em coming. We are already thinking about how to approach evenings, music etc.

Right, now to sort myself out with a proper Blogger account...

Pete said...

I've just come back from lunch at the Brockley Mess and very nice it was too. I even got to meet an interesting lady and chat with her about her orange wednesday habit and how good all the primary schools round here are.

Apparently I'm the first person to be decadent enough to have the Brockley Mess desert. I do feel like I ought to go on a 50 mile bike ride to burn it off though :-)

Very nice although quite different to Royal Teas I think but not worse just different.

I'm planning on going on Saturday after the Dulwich Saturday ride if HH, Hugh or Graeme want to come along? I thought I might go and watch the TOB after.

Perplexed said...

Orange Wednesday Habit?

TOB?

Tressilliana said...

Here you are, m'lud.

http://web.orange.co.uk/p/film/orange_wednesdays


http://www.tourofbritain.co.uk/

decryptor said...

Orange Wednesday - 2 for the price of 1 entry into a participating cinema on Wednesdays. You need to have a phone provided by Orange to get this.

Habit - behavioural pattern

TOB - Tour of Britain. Cycling event.

Slightly less perplexed said...

Ah...........

Pete said...

Sorry for causing confusion. I thought everyone knew what Orange Wednesdays are.

Formerly perplexed said...

I had a vision of a woman who became a Hare Krishna devotee and wore an orange habit......... but only on Wednesdays.

As for TOB........ only Talbot Old Boys came to mind.

Headhunter said...

I might be around for the Sat DP ride, although might do Sunday instead. Won't be doing both!

Anonymous said...

The place really looks great and the menu too but two small criticisms for me;It's horribly noisy in there because of the concrete flooring and hard wall surfaces. With a handfull of screaming kids in there the noise at times was deafening....I suggest some kind of floor covering to dampen the echoes a bit.Whilst Moonbows was too dark The Mess is VERY bright and this could be less harsh. The place could be cosier and more inviting.
Having said all this it could be really fantastic with a few we tweaks here and there. Well done and good luck.

Anonymous said...

I tried the non-Veg lunchtime special. Pork sausages on a bed of lentils with salad. Very tasty and reasonable prices. As a Royal Teas regular it was nice to see the quality of the food was the same and the prices similar (we will notice every difference.)

The loose leaf teas are good, none of that tea bag nonsense.

They promise that they will have cafetieres of freshly ground coffee ready, real soon. Proper coffee at last in Brockley, rather than the usual expresso frippery.

The Interior Design of the Brockley Mess is pretty good. The big black and white murals on the long wall make a pleasant contrast to the bright colours opposite. They show, what is now Prendergast School in 1931, the schoolboys sitting a long tables in the the dinner hall - different world. Those kids would be in their late '80s. if they are still around at all. Another wall sized photo show Lewisham College, young ladies learning how to cook. A bit of nostalgia to contrast with the modern feel to the rest of the place.

Now whether they intended to complete the image with the sound effects created by the hard surfaces, I am not sure. But the concrete floor and walls create echos that amplify the sound. The clatter of crockery and cutlery in the kitchen, the hubub of conversation between the customers is OK. It creates an atmosphere akin to a refectory - a mess.

But.....the babies and toddlers. Their natural tendency for high frequencies is amplified tremendously. The sound that they make could rival a hospital immunisation clinic. It looks like it is going to be a favourite with the baby buggie brigade.

What this means for anyone expecting to relax or to study is that you need to invest in a pair of good quality noise canceling headphones. This is not the 'Chill-out bar' that the old Moonbows did so well. Quite chats are difficult, everything is loud and it is Bright. The Brockley Mess has lighting - lots of it. Very nice lamps that look like the ones in the the 1930s dinner hall and lines of spot lights. It looks great but it creates a shared, very public space. It is not in the least bit intimate.

This abundance of lighting is used illuminate the walls, especially at the back of the room, which are hung with big art works. The floor space is taken up with a couple of small sofas. I did wonder whether the toddlers would be adding their handprints to the art work before you know it.

The main floor area is taken up with small square tables with a hotch potch of different types of chair style. This is nice, it breaks up regularity, makes it less regimented. Between the big window and the bar there are a couple of aloves, like in an American diner. Bagging one of those if you want to chat to friends is the name of the game. The toddlers and teenagers went straight for them.

The lavatories have gone all posh with chandeliers and tiles. In fact the 'finish' the whole place is up to a high standard.

There seems to be no facilities for smokers, no seats out the front or the rear.

I think they could do something with the back yard. Make it into a play area for the kiddie winks, maybe?

Now if they were open in the evenings, toned down the lighting, added a bit of mood music, maybe a rolled out a big rug on the floor to aborb the noise, it could turn into a bar rather than a cafe.

Altogether, it is a seems a fine job has been done by Ray and his team. It certainly brightens up that part of Brockley. Well done!

Pete said...

I'd agree that it was a bit noisy. Mason's has the same problem to a much worse degree.

I'm sure there is something relatively straightforward and inexpensive that could be done to absorb the sound waves.

Blunderbuss said...

Easily the best eating/coffee place in Brockley. Wonderful decor, eclectic but not self consciously so. Menu looks wonderful, had a cake it was lovely.

As others have said a bit of background music maybe, and needs to be open in the evenings Friday and Saturday at least. Much as I like an early drink, choosing a bottle of wine from the selection on offer and downing it before closing time at 7, well it's not beyond me but probably not good for my shambling life. Re the noise yes it is a tad echoey but I only found it annoying when someone's kids were screaming. As long as parents gag there brats it'll be fine.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for you, Bluderbuss, I'm not aware of any parents who choose to gag their brats - not in public, anyway. You might just have to find somewhere else to eat your cake.

Headhunter said...

I haven't been over that way yet. Have they got the outdoor, pavement seating that Moonbows used to have? I always thought that added a certain something to the street.

Pete said...

There wasn't any pavement seating yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Is there a time during the day when it's generally safe to go to a cafe without having one's conversation or peace pierced by screaming young children or babies? I've pretty much given up on the local eateries cafes because of this, and usually meet my friends elsewhere now.

Anonymous said...

When is a cafe not a cafe?

When it is a creche.

Sharing a cafe with a lot of voluble little mites is not conducive to relaxing, conversation or simply having your lunch.

I wish someone would open a mothers and toddlers cafe up on Hilly Fields.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Anon. The one good thing about Moonbows was that they didn't allow screaming kids running all over the place. I was there once when the manager asked a mother to stop her child throwing itself on the sofa whilst shouting at the top of its voice. The mother took great umbrage and was extremely rude, so the manager barred them.

Anonymous said...

Thirded. Can't stand it when public, relaxing places become places for deliquent kids to bounce of the walls, slide along the floor and throw things.

M said...

I wish someone would open a cafe on Hilly Fields full stop. The public toilets could be converted fairly easily I'd imagine.
Has this been tried? I seem to remember reading something about it before. Were there security issues or something?

Headhunter said...

I'm not sure that I am as avidly anti-child as some posters here. I don't mind seeing kids about but it bothers me if they are screaming and generally treating the place like a creche or playground. If parents can keep their kids under control then fine and dandy, if not, take 'em to Hilly Fields, get 'em to run off some of that excess energy, then when they're knackered go for a coffee.

Some parents need to realise that some of their fellow customers of cafes and pubs are there for a quiet-ish coffee/snack/food etc. Some sensitivity for other people is required.

I went to that pub in Dulwich a while back on a Sunday - The Greyhound something or other? The place was crammed with kids. Some were relatively quiet and under control, whilst other ran about screaming, kicking toys all over the floor (I almost tripped over some kind of scooter thing laft lying between 2 tables).

prospero said...

The thing is, there have always been plenty of places to go for adults where children haven't been allowed. In most countries that I have travelled in children are welcome pretty much everywhere, it's only in curmudgeonly old blighty that you find people complaining. There is an issue with noise at the Brockley Mess and hopefully the owners will try and sort it out. I really like the new cafe and hope that the owners can be persuaded to open in the evenings. Those of us who live around Hilly Fields need a nice place that we can wander to.

Victorian Dad said...

Bring back the workhouse. Spare the rod and spoil the child. Children should be scene not herd er no seen not heard. Etc etc

;-(

Anonymous said...

The kids are not the problem.

Over indulgent parents without much clue how to control their children in public and expect the rest of the world to prioritise their demands. This seems to be at all sections if society. Some of the middle class parents are the worst.

Poor parenting is what this country seems to specialise in and is responsible for many social ills.

Woe betide the cafe that becomes the crucible of this angst.

Danja said...

Woe betide the cafe that becomes the crucible of this angst.

Planning your own little Columbine?

Headhunter said...

Why does someone always have to take it to an extreme?! The Workhouse! All we need is a little more understanding and control from parents and a little less sugar in kids.

Brockley Nick said...

And a little more tolerance and empathy from the people moaning about parenting.

anyway, Brockley Mess is great!

Anonymous said...

I'd contend that "tolerance and empathy" are part of the problem with these "little darlings"...

Tressilliana said...

Far easier to bring children up without any tolerance and empathy! Then when you chuck them in the coalhole coughing without permission you're not affected by the screaming.

4x4 said...

Been in the Brockley Mess and I have to say the place is great. It's nice to see someone has spent a decent amount of money on making the place look great.
As always you are always going to get people moaning that it's too noisy or too expensive or there's too many unruly kids.
For God's sake let's just rejoice that someone has had the balls to spend good money on creating a light, bright pleasant environment for their customers. It makes a nice change from the 'hippy distressed look' of so many other establishments in the area.
People want real choice and the Brockley Mess is offering something different from many of the other establishments in the area. Good luck to them I say!

Anonymous said...

It is a nice place, that is not the issue.

It is one set of customers not being compatible with another set.

Something that afflicts any public space. We need more cafe/bars like this. I shall head for the one with the fewest screaming cherubs.

Today the Brockley Mess was more like the Brockley Creche.

It seems to be a place for mothers and babies.

If it was open in the evenings, it would attract another set of customers.

drakefell debaser said...

The Brockley Mess was heaving this morning which is a great sign. We sat out the back to enjoy the weather and went for the full English & eggs benedict which were yummy and nicely presented (used to a full English being a car crash of heaven not orderly portions of heaven) coffee tastes of coffee and the price is very fair.

Anonymous said...

Is it open tomorrow for Sunday breakfast?

Monkeyboy said...

are we talking proper English breakfast? not messed with or 'healthy' some things were meant to lardy.

I'll be road testing that sucker.

Anonymous said...

I was looking forward to my first trip to Brockley Mess until I read this thread, as a mother of a one year old and a two year old I might give it a miss for fear of my visit coinciding with some of you - looks like its off to the public toilets on Hilly Fields with a flask of tea for me....

psyche9 said...

I'm OK with the screaming babies but please don't have background music - it is so nice to find a place that doesn't. Music evenings are another matter. Lovely place; good luck!

Anonymous said...

To the mother of two with a flask of tea...

I also have two children of a similar age and a few days ago had a lovely lunch with them at the Brockley Mess. I received no raised eyebrows and the staff had no problems with my children being there.

Be brave and go! Perhaps if you need support we can go for lunch together with our 'tribe'?

Imagine the comments!

Anonymous said...

Or - who knows - if they're noisy, you could ask them to be quiet or even tell them off a bit?

"But I worry that might harm their emotional development. One gluten-free bran muffin please"

Brockley Nick said...

Planning to go there with my family today...

Boxy said...

Why do things have to always end up as, if not an argument but a defensive exchange of entrenched positions.

Blunderbus seems to have made a blaise throwaway comment about "gagging screaming brats". This has set off a round of anons who have had bad experiences sharing facilities with parents and kids in other local establishments

Then we've had the defensive response from the mum with the flask.

Honestly

People need to have mutual empathy in these situations. Looking after kids is hard and somewhat mundane work, mixing up the day with a trip to the cafe keeps the carer sane.

But equally seeing and hearing kids running and shouting with the parents showing little to no consideration of the other users of the facilities will generate comments.

Kids do what they do, cry, shout, run it it's not unreasonable however for other users in an eating place to expect to see parents/carers assert their control over their charges.

Anonymous said...

Wandering up Hilly Fields with a flask of tea at the wrong time of night might get you more of an experience than you were bargaining for!

Brockley Nick said...

Just been. Place was packed and customers included some very sweetly behaved children. Couldn't get a table so have come to Jam Circus instead. Great to have a choice of good local places, bound to encourage more people to think local.

pjs said...

Agree it's great to have choices, but they are still pretty limited. I popped into Brockley Mess earlier, but after waiting over 20 minutes for my coffee not to arrive, moved on to Jam Circus. After finding out it only served roasts on Sundays, decamped to Oscars in Ladywell. The back garden is a great location, the poached egg & ham was not so great. Barely pink watery ham, with equally watery egg white doesn't quite cut it. Ho hum.

patrick1971 said...

Met a friend for brunch this morning but completely forgot about the Mess and went to Try in Honor Oak Park instead. Sounds like we wouldn't have got a table anyway! Definitely keen to try it out soon.

In one way it's good news that all these places are busy; hopefully it will encourage more to open to meet the demand. Maybe we really are the next East Dulwich after all! Haha.

Richard said...

Popped in a couple of times this week to check out the new kids on the block and I've been very impressed by Brockley Mess. The diner-esque menu is balanced, but with good choice and the French toast and chocolate cake I had were delicious. Every day it has been packed to the rafters, which only goes to show there is demand in Brockley, probably enough to sustain another few eateries.

Re: music, decor, babies, outside, etc, it's not possible to please all tastes at all times (I personally love the absence of music, but it is probably unnerving at quiter times). I know Mel is keen to make families welcome and the outside area to the back was in use yesterday.

@pjs, I think the important thing is there is the choice of places to go all with different offers. Today was Brockley Mess' first Sunday and it's not surprising they were hugely busy. Ourselves, we prepare up to 100 roasts on a Sunday, with every ingredient made from scratch, so to offer other dishes would be difficult logistically from a small kitchen and we'd hate to sacrifice quality or service. That said, we might add a few main courses next week as the weather is holding out and we're not yet getting the 1pm Sunday roast stampedes.

Anyway, I'm pleased to have somewhere other than the office for lunch on my day off and I'm glad to see Brockley Mess has had the support it deserves from locals this week.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm back home after having at late sunday lunch at Jam Circus...more of that later. I had gone to B'Mess around 5.00pm and there was no food nor cake to be had. Well done Brockers. The chap on the counter was v. friendly he'd thought we had just come to look around. I must say on entering it was like being in a Roman palazzo with everyone checking you out, being a bit English instead of smiling and or nodding I was like yikes, is something wrong with my appearance and so must've come across as somewhat uncomfortable...must work on that.

But my stomach rumbles propelled me onwards and onto Jam Circus. This was the first time I'd ever been in there, had had heard about the legendary lunches, but I'm normally at my mum's for sunday lunch.

I had to say that v. impressed with the meal, a not inisignificant price but good value for what we had; that being veg filo roast a healthy portion, plus scrumptious tatties crunchy on the outside fluffy within, all the veg was good, not soggy, the crunchy carrots were caramelised, though the broccoli was little too al dente for my tastes but good.
and the caramelised onion and ample gravy/jus ? brought everything together.

The yorkshire puds a little too brule as were some of the tatties but overrall what a nice meal for £9.50.

Not the Brockley Foxes said...

or to paraphrase...

potatos good, brocolli good, gravy very good.

late to the BC party said...

Who are/were the Brockley foxes?

Anonymous said...

Legendry local restaurant critics, they could close a place as soon as it opened with their devastating reviews. Move over Jay Rayner….

Anonymous said...

All of you are talking about who 'belongs' at the Brockley Mess - the mothers and their children versus some apparent beatnik crowd. It's a cafe - sorry gallery and cafe - in Brockley, South East London - let's not forget where we are folks! They should and will take whatever customers they can get to keep them afloat - the owners are halfway to realising this which is why they have the high chairs and toys on the one hand and also an area with very attractive sofas and paintings which bizarrely you will be forcefully told you are not allowed to go near with any food or drink, let alone, god forbid, a baby, as I witnessed last week.(NB A group of mothers having lunch and cake, hot chocolate et al tend to spend a lot more in less time than single people on their laptops ordering a black coffee every 2 hours)

To whomever posted this gem:
"The sound that they make could rival a hospital immunisation clinic. It looks like it is going to be a favourite with the baby buggie brigade.

What this means for anyone expecting to relax or to study is that you need to invest in a pair of good quality noise canceling headphones." - this is an interesting comment - according to your own logic, surely studying is meant to happen in a library, relaxing a spa/ medidation class or similar - not a coffee shop designed for socialising with friends? Please note the baby buggy brigade do not hang out in these places, so you are welcome to stay there undeterred. Oh, and this same 'baby buggy brigade' is actually made up of a variety of themselves educated and professional people - the buggy is really for transporting their offspring :o)

Ultimately, it's not a public service, it's a business - and arguing over which group has the most right to this cafe is frankly, odd, competitive and not very community minded.

Finally, on the caf itself, it IS nice - and more so than old Moonbow 'poetry and boiled wool jumper' Jakes, but not very cosy, not very relaxing, and hasn't done much research into the local market. Jam, Honour Oak and TM2 are much more chilled out and less self-consciously cool.

Anonymous said...

4x4 comments: "It makes a nice change from the 'hippy distressed look' of so many other establishments in the area."

Could someone please tell me where these "so many other establishments" are - I'd like to check them out.

Ross said...

"Jam, Honour Oak and TM2 are much more chilled out and less self-consciously cool."

self-consciously cool - is this a joke?

Paddyom said...

I tried to go to the Brockely Mess on Sunday morning but there was no room for the 3 of us so we went to the TM2 instead. Its a good sign that the place is busy! I would suggest some more tables please, it appears there is plenty of room for more tables in the garden, on the street and even inside.

We had a great breakfast at TM2 in the garden, its a real gem, I hadnt been for ages.

But looking forward to giving the Mess another try next weekend. All the best with the new business!

Anonymous said...

People who complain about the baby buggie brigade are people without babies. They then either become people with babies and change their opinion overnight- or they remain babyless - but in this case, they get older, and realise that should have got on the baby bandwagon years ago. Complaining about babies is like complaining about life itself. They are literally the future, so get with it people.

Anonymous said...

They had some sort of problem on Saturday with the chef throwing a wobbly or something. So my second visit wasn't as satisfactory as my first which was a shame

fabhat said...

I went late on Sunday afternoon, and had a very nice time - really like the new decor and the menu. Staff were a bit stressed and a few orders got muddled and they had run out of a few things but it felt like a nice place to be. Not too noisy and there were at least 3/4 kids there when we visited. It has a different feel to the other cafes/bars round here, which is a good thing I think - more choice rather than lots of identekit places in direct competition.

Anonymous said...

A groud of us went on Sunday for brunch. The staff were friendly, but a bit overwhelmed by all the business, and our drinks took 20 minutes to arrive, then the food took another 20 minutes. So not ideal. People were mainly happy with the food though my Eggs Florentine was so salty I wondered if it was sponsored by Saxo. It seemd that none of the staff was taking a lead - our table was served by four different people. I'm sure they'll get the hang of it , such teething problems always take a little while to overcome. Yes, it was noisey but I don't remember thousands of screaming children, just a general noise, as above caused by the lack of soft furnishings.

Anonymous said...

At 10am on Sunday it was still only a quarter full - the early birds will have no problem getting a seat.

From what the staff said, they just weren't prepared to be as busy as they were on Saturday, and decided to close the garden area on Sunday to enable them to give a better service. From the reviews above it sounds like they've got a little way to go, but it's very early days and I'm sure they'll sort the glitches.

Tressillian James said...

Went on Sunday - really liked what they have done with the place - it does pffer something different from the laid back 'shabby chic' of TM2 and the former Moonbows. Dare I say it, it looks like a proper business, and hopefully will attract more.

Yes noisy - but kids (usually one of my bugbears) were not causing trouble, and the noise also gives it a different atmospehere - its a bright open place.

Kitchen was finding it difficult to cope - long wait for food, despite lots of staff, and the English Breakfast was not stand out - but all in all happy with our experience.

Would love to see it open in the evenings, think it is a brilliant addtion to Brockley, as it offers something different and distinctive. Good luck to them, and certainly will be back

Marisa said...

Just been to the Brockley Mess and had a fantastic breakfast and dare I say, the first decent coffee in Brockley! I thought the atmosphere and decor was very good. I didn't mind the kids as much as I didn't mind the single childless people or the childless couples.

All we need now is some investment on this rundown parade of shops which happens to be in the Ladywell Ward hence why it gets overlooked when there is funding available.

graeme said...

"..the first decent coffee in Brockley!"

how ironic that there's a Starbuck's next door!

Anonymous said...

For me the best coffee in Brockley is that from the hut on the station.

Anonymous said...

Yay! Coffee-chat! Now we're cooking

Anonymous said...

Matchbox is pretty decent. I tried Broca once but got distracted by the amount of signs about "our milk is organic because..." "our coffee is fairtrade because..." :-/

Anonymous said...

One thing that's always bemused me about the SE4 cafe culture, is where do all the punters come from?

When I walk around the environs, I only seem to clock shady looking characters. Then a cafe opens, and it quickly and magically fills up with nicely dressed middle-class types. Moonbows was the same. Is there some entrance to a secret tunnel in the middle of the C-Area that comes up under the Mess?

M said...

If you build it, they will come.

Headhunter said...

As has bneen said before, unfortunately Brockley is a bit of a dorm area. "Nicely dressed middle class" people tend to go to the station in the morning, get the train to work then walk back home from the station in the evening and that's pretty much the sum of their exposure to Brockley and its environs. With it's myriad of fried chicken emporia, bookies and slightly run down general stores Brockley doesn't offer much to anyone except "shady looking characters". Let's hope the tide is turning.

Anonymous said...

Nicely dressed middle class people don't tend to sit on street corners looking tough and spitting on the pavement either.

Anonymous said...

This thread will appreciate the article on this evenings (22/9) BBC London News, BBC1 6.30pm, on Nappy Brain

Rachel said...

Visited the Brockley Mess yesterday afternoon. Has great potential but really needs to work on the service. Friendly staff, they greeted us and told us to sit down and they'd come and take our order... We sat just near the counter and waited and waited. In the end we went back to the counter to order. They need to work on taking orders and dealing with other customers paying at the same time. On the plus the menu does look great and with more efficient service it's gonna be a great addition to Brockley.

Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah said...

So they may consider later opeining if there is sufficient deman? How do we contact them to request later opeing hours? I couldnt find a website. I keep wanting to pop down after work but I cant because it closes so early! I really think it should open till late, does anyone else? Cafe by day bar by night?

Anonymous said...

They have a Facebook site.

Anonymous said...

Coffee anyone ? no thanks....

It is great to see a The Mess finally open! and not another chicken shop (although they are thriving, from the boxes strewn over SE. I think eating chicken removes the capacity to put garbage in bins)

On someone else comment, yes I agree about the noise levels (the mess)... I found it more pleasing outside on the main road, inside all the hard surfaces. (ok it was busy, how about glue a 7M x 3M rug / tapestry on the ceiling, hang a price tag off it and call it art!)

OK back to my original rant (coffee anyone)

Why in Brockley is it hard to get a actual good coffee? OK Royal Teas is known for its tea ? I guess... that’s nice... Don’t bother near Crofton Station in the morning... (Moonbows opens 12) Matchbox does what it says on the TIN 9/10! great if your going to town in the morning only with time to spare. Toad, I’ve made my mind up... how long do I need to sit out back here ? or should I have taken a ticket before walking in, (super advanced ordering system, still need person... FAIL) Brocka also... a "cappuccino" is not filled to the rim with foam then on top.... thats a latte with foam again tasteless warm milk....

Did I get out on the wrong side today... Does anyone else think the same ?..... or will I need to buy a travel card to visit matchbox as I might not be planning to travel to town...

OK time for instant coffee. :-(

R

I said...

"Don’t bother near Crofton Station in the morning... (Moonbows opens 12)"

You mean JC ?

I find the best place for coffee is my gaff, but prolly not the best place for atmosphere.

PS are you a newly arrived aussie?

Anonymous said...

"Anyone for coffee"

Yes sorry I meaning JAM CIRCUS open to 12.....

Ummm as for the OZ comment will I am... but being here 10Yr still new?

Ive been in europe past few months also and yes are some countries where good coffee is standard.... or FAIL... and then there is the norm.... like here..... yes we have a machine... here you go...

Anyways been getting into the turkish coffee but its not something you get outside often... (do try it at Meze Mangal, with a spirit on the side)

Anyways...............

R

Ross said...

you'll almost definitely find better coffee in london than any other european capital.

Richard said...

@Ross, including Rome. Amsterdam, Paris, both terrible. Sardinia hit and miss. Good (epsresso-based) coffee is very hard to find anywhere, but London has some of the best if you know where to look. I have to say I think coffee is yet to be done particularly well in Brockley (apologies to those who like Matchbox, I've only tried them twice). I'm very proud of the staff's coffees at JC, especially as it's no easy skill to really master, but there are so many variables, there's always room for improvement with coffee.

Most coffee shops in Europe don't even seem to realise what it takes to make good coffee, let alone have the talent to master it, which is staggering and a huge shame.

maxink said...

If you're that much into coffee and are looking for a place that stands as a benchmark for excellency then I suggest you try my home town.

Polster said...

I agree that it's very difficult to find a good coffee. I learnt to like coffee in Italy and am an espresso girl at heart. It should be a tiny, syruppy portion, not half a cup of very wet and not particularly strong liquid. I'm not sure I've ever had a really good espresso in the UK. I've pretty much given up trying and tend to opt for cappuccino instead as it's not as obvious when it's bad (to me, anyway - I'm certainly no expert and don't drink it very often).

maxink said...

Yes, that's what expresso should be like, what is normally sold here for expresso is what in Italy is called "caffè lungo" (long), but there is space for creativity with coffee.

I had long discussions about it with the man of the cafe in Ladywell Field and when I went to Italy last month I went to Bar Illy (flagship outlet of the Illy coffee brand, Mr Illy is a former Mayor of Trieste) to ask them a menu to bring back to London and give to the man in Ladywell Fields.

Like if I had asked for some industrial secret, I had to leave empty-handed. Pity, they do all sorts of experimental things with coffee there, that's the most sophisticated coffee outlet I know.

Even my mum that is a retired office worker with a life-time habit of absolutely ortodox small shots of dense expresso is now converting to all sorts of new ideas.

Anonymous said...

I’ve enjoyed coffee at JC but I would prefer a beer when I visit, I know the team put effort in to get it right but as Richard pointed out, so many variables. If I tried to make an espresso, it might taste like the Thames. But I would have thought if you open a cafe’ the simple things like coffee / tea might be a basic requirement to get right. Technique, beans, tealeaves, not burning milk etc and of course using the machine, is training out of the question for at least 1 staff member to try and pass on to others? (Espresso machine are not cheap and for the investment why not use it correctly!)
I guess if you’re targeting clientele who need to nurse a soup bowl of Coffee & Tea kill time great! Have some cake or pita bread and humus also....
Ross, yes I agree I could go find some great coffee, but I am talking about Brockley, don’t forget London has over 200+ Starbucks not to mention Nero, Costa etc.. And yes the odd independent back ally coffee shop you do find is normally someone who prides themselves on making good coffee & food when I am in town I look for the independent people before I am overwhelmed with PRET and others... (don’t even think about gregs)...
I think these past notes should be under another title, not Brockley Mess I am really glad we have the Mess here!!!!!! ....

Polster, I also no expert by any means...

All this talk about coffee and food has got me going in the mood for some!

R

Anonymous said...

SPOT ON MAXINK

Asking for a "caffè lungo" or "piccolo latte" (put that in google picture search) its a stong espresso with little hot milk and think foam served in a small glass or cup (bigger than espress cup)

But asking for something like this to be made just draws a blank face and you end up with a pint of milk with foam and no tase of coffee...

R

Headhunter said...

If you want an Italian size cappuccino rather than the usual American style bucket of hot brown milk (minus any coffee flavour) that is served at most of the coffee chains in the UK, you need to ask for a macchiato. Italian macchiatos are espresso with a little milk foam on top, in the UK you get something reminiscent of an Italian cappucino...

Ross said...

for people claiming they can't find any coffee in london, or if they just feel so inclined to find a good espresso in london over the weekend here are a few of my favourites.

2009 world barista champion gwilym davies serves amazing coffee on whitecross street market (about) 8amish to about 3pmish on weekdays.
he also has a stall on ezra street, E2 which is just off columbia road. great way to spend a sunday morning.

Taste of Bitter Love (closed on saturdays) 279 Hackney Road, just up from the end of columbia road, tiny little shop run by a wonderful couple. lots of cakes and assorted treats baked on site, lovely food in general. serving square mile coffee.

Dose Espresso long lane, ec1 (i think) stones throw from the meat market. i would probably say this is the most intense shop in the city. the owner james has an unreal knowledge of not just coffee but pretty much everything he serves in his shop. coffee is consistently amazing, again serving square mile.

Flat White - Berwick Street.
Milk Bar - Bateman Street.

try googled the espresso room, or kaffine. both are relatively new shops that serve square mile. i've not been to either so i can't really reccomend but i sat next to Ben the owner of The Espresso Room a couple of weeks ago and he was a lovely, lovely dude.

hope that helps..

Alex said...

We visited the Mess yesterday (Sunday) lunchtime and had a lovely Brunch. Great menu (the breakfast burrito was awesome), service good and our kids liked it too.

I never really knew MBJ except that this is a great spot as the sun goes down.

Decor is funky / clean, with large photos of school canteens and the like from yester-year. They have a small gallery space at the back (maybe too valuable a space not to utilise at busy times), which suggests gallery nights and maybe private hire.

There's also an area outside but we could only drink there - no food, shame as it was lovely and sunny.

We'll certainly be back; we're from Vancouver Road on Catford / Forest Hill borders and we have nothing like this!

Hamill said...

In Brockley Mess at the moment and extremely disappointed. As a regular since it opened (at least every other day and always ordering food), I've come in to find the prices (specifically the Eggs Benedict), have increased, twice. I'm even more disappointed given that a member of staff advised that there was to be 'no food today, we're changing the menu'.

I and I'm sure many other patrons expected some menu additions. We got price rises on I'm guessing, one of their best sellers...

And this is where I'm torn. The eggs benedict at Brockley Mess is the best I've had in the longest time!

The food at Brockley Mess is fantastic. The staff are charming and helpful. It's a great space. Why have the prices gone up twice in the same number of weeks?

Mikey Mike said...

It's a shame that a place that had so much potential when it opened has gone down-hill so fast. The first couple of time I went theire the food was excellent. But more recently not so - according to the waiter who served me they got rid of the chef they had who could actually cook. Shame. My breakfast on Sunday was too salty and lsat time it had no flavor! All this on top of price incraeses? I really hope they pick themselves up before they lose too nmany customers.

quick brown fox said...

How much have they gone up by, Hamill? That is a bit disappointing - the laws of supply and demand in action, I suppose. If at current prices they're packed out, it makes sense to put up prices to increase profits, and if they drive away a few customers it doesn't matter too much. Twice in such a short space of time since opening is a bit insensitive, though! If people think they're being greedy it will damage goodwill. A response from the owners would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the mums and babies market is not as profitable as first thought.

In family friendly Italian restaurants I think they have a cover charge per person. Maybe if they did this they would not need to hike the prices for other customers.

Pete said...

I'm not surprised they got rid of the chef. I was in there a couple of Saturdays ago and he threw a tantrum and stormed out in the middle of lunch leaving no one there who could make meals. This lead to lots of people waiting for ages for food.

drakefell debaser said...

Sounds like a scene from Hells Kitchen.

Hopefully they will get the right balance and chef soon.

Anonymous said...

Mungs benedict

Anonymous said...

Not remotely funny.

The Cat Man said...

The Brockley Mung

M said...

Jesus. Now they're just randomly putting the word 'mung' into unconnected sentences.
It's like a Radio 4 panel game for idiots.

mintness said...

Mung said...

Mung. Now they're just mungly putting the mung 'Jesus' into mungconnected mungs.
It's like a Mung 4 panel mung for fair trade lentils.

(Mungiful really.)

Paddyom said...

Has the BM changed its opening times? I notice that in this post the owner states that he plans to open until 7pm whereas I was told they were shut at 6.01pm last Saturday - would like to try it for a glass of Vino after work tonight but only if its open till 7... anyone know? Sounds like they underestimated demand but its a new young business, lets not be too critical of it just yet, there will always be teething problems on these things.

Headhunter said...

It doesn't sound like they're going for the cafe cum bar market that MJ was quite yet. If they're only open til 6 or 7pm I will never be able to go except at weekends.

Gastromonique said...

WHAT A MESS...
Although we could cut this place some slack in its first weekend, 20minutes to be served, we were not so eager this weekend.
Our table was - eventually and oh so s-l-ow-ly cleared cleared of all the detritus. Then we had to ask for the table to be cleaned. The young waiter did so by sweeping the 'mess' on to the floor! (Just look under all those tables and you may understand where that name came from.)
In fact as he took the dishes away (slowly) that had been left by the previous occupants, we suggested that a tray may be more helpful as it may stop him walking back and forth, save time, and then he could (hint-hint) get on with taking our orders. 'I prefer going back and forth rather than doing it all in one go with a tray,' he responded. (Obviously on an hourly rate.)
Trying to place an order was equally taxing. The other waiters (?) did their best NOT to make eye contact. PERHAPS THEY WERE BUSY?Most were gathered around the kitchen.
AFTER TWENTY MINUTES WITHOUT EVEN A DRINK WE WALKED OUT. THE CAFE A FEW DOORS ALONG SEREVED US IMMEDIATELY.

Anonymung said...

To be fair, you sound like the sort of person who I wouldn't want as a customer. If you'd tried to tell me to use a tray to carry the plates I would have gotten hold of it and inserted it in your mouth.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I concur. Was in there this morning and they were having a MARE. Confused orders, bad service, late food. Saying that what I did have i enjoyed and I'm prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt because almost every new cafe/restaurant has teething problems. Also they were jammed packed. I expect these will be ironed out over the next week or two. The coffee -IMO- was better than the rest of the competition in Brockley.

Tressillian James said...

Jeez..this blog never cuts anyone some slack. Let's leave BM alone and let them settle in. I'm glad that they opened their business here, and hope they thrive.

oldgit said...

No let's not give them a chance and endlessly shoot them down instead. We'll all tell everyone we know how awful we think it is, until hopefully it closes. Then we can sit back and moan about how there aren't any nice places locally and wonder why Brockley is such a pit.

Anonymous said...

Well I have to agree with the comment about bad service. Fair enough if you can't keep up with orders and are 'settling in' but there is no excuse for the utter rudeness of the staff today, even if they were coping badly with the demand. And what is that empty space at the back (apparently it's a gallery)? If you want to make money, then provide enough chairs and tables for your customers rather than leaving half the premises empty and telling your customers that they can 'stand up' to have their coffee or they won't be served. Not a good start.

Tressillian James said...

If the place is full, it is full.

Anonymous said...

Sad.....

I normally just order at the counter, I’ve played the game of watching new customers walking in and waiting for what looks like eternity while sipping on my bowl of hot milk. (I am sad.. people spotting....while they are waiter watching, sipping on my bowl of everlasting warm milk) I’ve never visited when full, if it is I keep walking.

I/YOU/WE/US/BROCKLEY all have to expect that the new TRENDY CAFE in town has only just opened and everyone want to visit and sit around and read papers and just been seen... It is going to take time sort things out... I know the caesar salad might have been their 1st attempt (my last & Caesar did not only eat greens leaf!) I won’t mention the word cof_e_ in this sentence.

COFFEE.....A double shot cappuccino in a "SMALL" cup please. A few minutes later the large soup bowl came out again filled?! It must have translated to the person who made the coffee “ LARGE BOWL OF MILK, WEAK, PRETTY CHOC SPRINKLES” Am I just a BIG MUG. Should I have pulled him up on this? I could see other people still not being served so didn’t bother. I’ve not been back again...

Coffee Anyone?

R

Anonymous said...

Most trendy cafes have waiting staff who are either not very good at it or really don't want to do the job.

Having been a customer in many such establishments it is rare to find a place that has got this sorted.

Busy times are on Saturdays and Sundays. You either get there early or avoid the place.

At peak times, the cracks begin to show and there will be some long waits until they work out how to run the kitchen at maximum efficiency.

I suspect, like other cafes in the area, that the kitchen is too small to handle the order when the place is full.

But let us give them a few months for them to get it running smoothly. I expect it is pretty stressful.

o said...

The place does need to be given a chance to settle in, whilst this is happening, don't forget the more established and resurgently good Toad's Mouth Too is down the road, towards Brockley station.
And whilst you're down that way you can browse the Degustation deli, which specialises in french treats, wholefoods shop The Shop on the Hill and pop into the pretty gify and card shop Magi.

Boiled wool jumper wearer said...

Yes please!

Gastromonique said...

Frankly I'm amazed that a complaint about poor service - waiting over twenty minutes to have an order taken - should somehow make me an unsuitable person to visit the establishement. This is not, I thought at least, run by a bunch of amateurs but persons with a track record (Royal Teas). But then, after many years living in Brockley, 'amateur' and 'needy customer' go hand in hand. Meanwhile I shall vote with my purse on a Saturday. TM2 here I come.

Anonymous said...

Great. I'll ask them to give you their best table - will you be requiring a bib?

Bet you're the sort of person who says "Can I speak to the manager?"

Steph said...

In my experience, the staff, service & food have been fantastic since Brockley Mess opened. Simply disappointed about the price rise.

However, what more concerning is the tone of the comments I've just read.

Brockley Mess is a significant player in the rejuvenation of Brockley Road. To clarify this for some people; it's a GOOD thing.

Some people writing here come across as disgruntled mud slinging politicians. Can't points be made without resorting to such base swipes?

Before I moved here, Brockley was pitched to me as a place with a sense of community... Hmm.

Anonymous said...

As regards plate clearing, I agree with thge poster who said it was inappropriate to use a tray. however I am equally shocked by the nerve of the waiter who stated his preference on the subject.

we are the customers and any establishment that wants to please its customers and thereby continue to sell its product must do what the customer wants. simple.

there's far too much rubbish on this site about what the proprietor's vision/waiter's preference is. You wanna make money? ask your customers what they want and then provide it.

Incidnetally, TM2 is fairly disgusting to me - the same person takes the money as handles food. ugh.

Osh said...

I don't mind people raising valid criticisms about local businesses (they're not charities) but I wish people would just make their points without sounding so aggressive or unpleasant.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with anon. The customer is NOT always right.

There is an expectation of politeness in such environments and you do NOT tell waiters how they can and can't clear your plates away. That's just rude.

You can't boss people around just because you're in a restaurant.

Headhunter said...

I went by Brockley Mess on Sun, late morning and it was heaving, wouldn't have been able to get a seat if I'd tried to go in. Peered thru the window and decided to come back later but then never did, so still can't comment on the place. There were lots of kids, pushchairs, scooters etc around, but the kids didn't seem to be making that much noise.

It looked very respectable though, however the friend who I was with at the time said the decor was reminiscent of the new, upscale McDonalds that you see around! Not sure that's a good thing.

Anon 5/10 11.30am - I know what you mean about people handling food and money without washing their hands, I always find it strange when you see market stallholders at fancy places like Borough Market with rubber surgical or plastic gloves on to handle the food to prevent contamination, yet with the same gloved hand they handle money, delve into their pockets for tissues etc etc. If you're going to do all that why bother with the glove? Completely pointless!

Anonymous said...

I loved it. Really reasonably priced and the food was excellent. Tried a few different things and by far the best I've had in ages. Not the usual predictable menu items either. Enjoyed it so much so we went on both Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The area at the back is weirdly empty and I'm sure they'll realise it's wasted space soon enough and stick some more coveted 'booths' in there.

The service is a bit confused ( a bit of a euphamism) but I've run pubs, bars and restaurants for years, and it's clear they just need a little bit more of a system. (Ooh if I could get my hands on them for some free training!) I'm sure that'll bed in before long though cos they're all clearly willing and friendly.

Let's all stop being grumpy, champion it and hope it's a great example for anyone else wanting to start a business in the area. Whoop and bleedin holler for the Brockley Mess.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 1246, well yes you see customers can actually direct the dining experience they want, because, guess what, if we don't get it, we go elsewhere and the place ends up closing if it doesn't please the customer.

same with any busness.

it is sort of called "the free market" and works for so long as there is choice for the consumer.

Headhunter, yes TM2 is disgusting like this - taking tenners and then making food. yuck. it is why I stopped going there.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time that I have looked at the blog and quite frankly I am a little shocked by the personal jibes and point scoring that many people seem to indulge in. So without wishing to do this myself I would like to add some comments on the Brockley Mess.

I dropped by for a light lunch last week and was very impressed by the fairly short but varied menu. I am assuming that prices had already been increased A few people have commented on the price increases since the place opened but I still thought the food + drinks represented good value. I had coffee which was excellent and Eggs Benedict which I would say was the best I have ever had South of the River. I am a huge fan of Canteen (Spitalfields market) + I usally have this dish for brunch when in that part of time but I would say that the chef at Brockley Mess, who was female incidentally (can’t remember her name), produced something just as fabulous if not better.

I also have 2 children under 5 who were not with me on this visit. The cafe was full with many babies and yes it was noisy but I thought it just had a brilliant community feel. I really think though that in this current climate it is very forward thinking of cafe owners to broaden their appeal to families and childless alike. From my experience parents don't really hang out for a serious amount of time in cafes with their children/babies as it can be quite stressful for them too. They want to be served quickly, drink good coffee and eat great food that is not overpriced. I think the BM really succeeds on all these levels so I would say bravo and keep up the good work. The staff I am sure will get with it.. especially if the management read these blogs. One last point on music .. I think that the noisy chatter of voices provides enough of a soundtrack. So many places are spoilt with inappropriate music. I was in Jam Circus for coffee at lunchtime the day before BM and was irritated by the noise of a radio station not actually tuned in properly. If customers want music or some noise other than voices why not listen to an ipod or go to TGI Fridays?

graeme said...

If their shopfront was wider they could rename themselves

"You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. But you can't please all of the people all of the time"

AbitObvious said...

Or serve many of the people all of the time - and within twenty minutes? It seems to me if Gastromonique waited so long - for a order to be placed? - and the 'waiter' would rather string out that clearing of a table as long as possible, then suggesting a tray (big deal) in the long run is hardly rude. It may assist that business in its survival. (Unless the waiters are directed to string out the clearance of the tables, and ignore new arrivals?) Hopefully the owner will see any disguntled comments as positive feedback, rather than the 'negative' comment that some here choose to label it. But then perhaps Gastromonque expected a freebie, and therefore (rightly) has no say.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of getting some feedback/response from Raymond on this? Some people seem to be content on giving BM a pasting (they'll be happy when it becomes a fried chicken shop, I'm sure) - it would be nice to know what he thinks about things and how he's planning on addressing the problems, if he even thinks there are any.

Brockley Kate said...

Popped in for a coffee mid-afternoon on Sunday, it was fairly busy but not rammed. Tea and coffee were good, service was fine. The space at the back is a bit odd though. That's the only vaguely critical comment I can come up with, I'm afraid! They seem to be doing a good job so far.

BM waiter said...

Thank you for sticking up for the chef Anon 05 October 2009 17:16!! She certainly is talented and I don't think the quality or speed of the food being produced is the same without her.

@ Pete 02 October 2009 & Anon 21 September 2009 09:17, I happened to be working that day and I assure you there was nothing even remotely close to her throwing a tantrum and storming out of the kitchen! It was the first weekend we were open, those of us who were serving customers couldn't keep up with the sheer volume, let alone the kitchen, and with just one person cooking food for that number of people seemed pretty unrealistic to me. But what would I know? I'm just one of these "waiters" that people on here are writing off. The manager that day made the decision to stop taking orders - it certainly wasn't up to the chef! If that's what you were told then it's clearly a case of the manager looking for someone to blame for their poor planning

M said...

Kate, I have to agree about the 'gallery' space at the back - I don't really see the need for it. The art could still clearly be seen if there were tables back there and there is clearly a need for more seating - especially at the weekend.
Still, it's a great place and all power to them.

M said...

Clearly.
Tsk.

Anonymous said...

onsidering the Brockley mess has highchairs and a box of baby toys, its not a child friendly place. I was told by an extremely rude person working there that they had had enough babies that day and its was not a nursery. As I was putting my daughter back into her pushchair (I hadn't taken my coat off) he continued to mutter his annoyance in a really aggressive manner. I won't be buying any art from their 'gallery' or another cup of coffee ever again. If they don't want children in there, don't encourage it by pretending to cater for them.

Anonymous said...

onsidering the Brockley mess has highchairs and a box of baby toys, its not a child friendly place. I was told by an extremely rude person working there that they had had enough babies that day and its was not a nursery. As I was putting my daughter back into her pushchair (I hadn't taken my coat off) he continued to mutter his annoyance in a really aggressive manner. I won't be buying any art from their 'gallery' or another cup of coffee ever again. If they don't want children in there, don't encourage it by pretending to cater for them.

Anonymous said...

Customer or staff?

Anonymous said...

I was one of 4 mums who met at Brockley mess this morning. We all had coffee and a morning snack and we were going to have lunch there as well but left because one of the members of staff was clearly not happy with the children.

Our children are not of the 'seen and not heard' variety but nor where they running riot either. The highchairs, toy box and menu all indicate that it is a child friendly cafe but I don't think we'll be in a hurry to return as we were made to feel so uncomfortable. Shame because the menu and the food is good and the service from the waitress who was also there was very accommodating and friendly. I've heard similar comments from my other mums - they need to be careful as I guess a lot of their customs comes from local mums.

Anonymous said...

hello, i am sad to hear those comments - mums home with babies bring huge revenue in a time of recession - more than a single person having a coffee and staying to read the paper - mums have to buy food for the kids and breast feeding mums eat tons of cake! ;-)

short sighted really. I spent most of the first year of my sons life in cafes!

Anonymous said...

Maybe there's scope for a cafe catering specifically for parents and their children. While it's good to share public space with all members of the community it can get quite tiresome when busy, working people who want to have a relaxing coffee at the weekend have to put up with the constant wail of children. These kids perhaps could be doing something that would better engage them rather than make their parents feel like they're having respite from their caring duties.

Anonymous said...

I was in there the other day and counted eight prams, so can't be all that unwelcoming to children.

Disgruntled home worker from a said...

As with all parents. There's this obsession that so
Somewhere THEY want to be has to welcome children. Y'know what, as one of many patrons that attends on a regular basis, I'd suggest that the temporary passing trade of mums with nothing better to do, is about as welcome as a punch in the face to a business with long term ambition. Ask yourself this: will you still be coming to the mess every day when little Oscar/Elouise is in school? I know will.

Tin hat on!

DJ said...

Ah good. It's this tiresome debate again.
*logs off for the rest of the day*

mb said...

I would of thought that bums on seats, and how much said bum spends, is the primary aim of a cafe?

Seems to indicate that there is a demand, hardly the cafes fault and not the fault of the customers.

Anonymous said...

*YAWN*
must go pick up little Oscar from school now.
Need coffee, but know I am more welcome in Broca whether I have kids with me or not.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
patrick1971 said...

Very weird to read these recent comments as it seemed from the outset that it was going to be child friendly (all those bright colours!) and indeed many people complained in the first few weeks that it was almost too successful in attracting families!

Maybe there's been new management that wants to change direction.

common sense is anything but said...

I'm a (child-free) regular in the BM and there are always children in there, many of them allowed to walk around, getting in the staff's way, with their mothers looking on and beaming proudly. This shows ZERO consideration for the people who work there. If your child can't or won't stay still in an environment where hot food and drinks are being moved at speed in a crowded place, then have a little consideration and STAY AWAY!

mljay said...

Have been there recently with little "Oscar". Used to be there all the time when on Maternity leave.

Think they are family friendly up to a point... and that is not to hang around in there for to long.

Seems to me that they encourage a quick turnover on their tables (for all users, not just parents with kids) to get more bums on seats and are popular enough to go with this strategy.

So its fine to go for one "sitting" but to go for coffee and breakfast and then stretch this out to lunch, is probably what brings out the tensions.

Personally I have never felt any anti-child feelings from the Mess, and the individual who has been named the child catcher has never been anything but friendly and polite to me.

Anonymous said...

So we've learnt that's it's either too child centric or mean to kids? lordy....

DJ said...

@ 'commonsense...'. Bloody parents eh? Letting their kids 'walk around' in a public place. SELFISH!
There is food and drink traveling at speeds greater than the human eye can see in there and it's only a matter of time until a member of staff is permanently disabled by an unshackled toddler. The little SHITS.
Ban kids. Or cafes. What was the question?

Running Nutter said...

I have two small children. I don't much like the Mess, and haven't taken the kids there more than once of twice. They see a bit clueless about child portions and aren't that friendly. We like Jam Circus much more.

shades of grey said...

1/ The Mess is not a public space.

2/ A hot cup of coffee dropped from a tray onto a child's head can cause a serious burn. Should this happen, who gets the blame, toddler or waiter?

Tamsin said...

In the other direction the Hill Station sets out to be child friendly - with thought about portions etc. - but balances that with designating Fridays as a "quiet day". Children still welcome but expected not to be noisy.

Tyrwhitt Cliff said...

Shades of Grey - The parent perhaps?

common sense is anything but said...

@DJ - yes, it certainly is selfish. Part of responsible parenting is knowing what your children are capable of and choosing where you take them accordingly, i.e. not where they will cause annoyance and put themselves and others in danger.

Don't get me wrong, most of the kids I see in the BM are well-behaved and stay put. And I also realise you can't always stop them bolting off if they feel like it - what is annoying is where the parent just watches them wandering around and makes no attempt to stop them.

Anonymous said...

Our child was sat inbetween myself and my wife. Not causing any problems, but we were made to feel from the moment we walked in we weren't welcome.

Anonymous said...

Care to expand on that? What made you feel unwelcome? Was something said?

Michelle said...

I've been visiting the Brockley Mess for almost a year since I moved to Ladywell and became pregnant with my first child. Until recently, it has proved a relaxed and convenient place for myself and my other new mummy friends to convene over a weekly lunch with our 3-4 month old babies.

Sadly, the Brockley Mess is only superficially child-friendly at best. Whilst there is ample space for buggies and high-chairs are provided, the male proprietor has now shown his true colours as someone who is not at all tolerant of, or accommodating towards, children.

There are no nappy changing facilities in this cafe. This of itself is not a problem and hasn't phased my friends nor I in the past. As the toilet is too small and, in any event, not a safe place to change baby's nappy (you would need to put the baby on the toilet seat - cue rolling and smashed little heads) we elected to discreetly change our babies' wet (not soiled) nappies on the bench on which we sat (appropriately covered with baby blankets and nappy change mats, and armed with a packet-full of sanitising wipes), protected and camouflaged on all sides by our own bodies. This has proved successful in the past with no diners being at all bothered by this.

Today, however, the owner told us not to change our babies in the cafe. At all. Ever. When we pointed out that there is nowhere else to change out little ones he told us in no uncertain terms to either go home and change them or not bother coming into his cafe at all. He also pulled a face when I breastfed my baby.

He was then overheard telling two customers (who hadn't complained at all) that he didn't want his cafe "smelling like baby sh*t".

What a disgusting attitude towards the very people who sustain his business throughout the day (the cafe is usually full of mums with young babes during the day).

The proprietor is not so much concerned to protect his customers' interests as to ensure that he is not confronted by children for whom he has a clear dislike. He has elected not to provide baby changing facilities so it is patently obvious that he is not interested in attracting young families to his premises.

I refuse to spend another penny in there (indeed, I'm not allowed to stay on the premises if - God forbid - my child happens to need changing while I'm out) and I am sure that once word gets out the many parents from surrounding Brockley, Ladywell and Lewisham will also be boycotting the place.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the proprietor.

Tressilliana said...

Spending a penny in the Mess appears to have been the problem. How long were you in there? It's a long time since I had to worry about nappy changing, but surely if your baby was dry when you left home and you spent maybe an hour in the Mess the nappy could wait till you got home?

I think I'm with the proprietor too.

Another mother said...

What happened to the 'handcrafted changing table' mentioned in a (much) earlier post? I have to say I have a baby and wouldn't dream of changing them on a bench in a cafe, hidden or not it's still gross and the proprietor is well within his rights and not being unreasonable to ask you not to do it. I would recommend the Brockey Jack, Jam Circus and the orchard as nearby alternatives to meet that have good baby changing facilities.

Anonymous said...

Really? You would be happy sitting in wet pants for an hour and then however long it takes you to get home? Whilst it isn't pleasant to change a baby like this, I'm sure the mothers involved didn't want to do it but faced with no alternative what is the option? The owner has provided high chairs and a box of toys for children, therefore implying a child friendly image but there are no changing facilities and he appeared disgusted by our toddler when we last visited. Even though he sat perfectly the whole time we were in and made no noise. Families need to stay away, there are plenty of places in the area with excellent facilities for children that are also welcoming.

Anonymous said...

How ironic, I haven't been to the Mess for months precisely because it is always packed with yummy mummies, and now it sounds as though the proprietor is alienating his core audience! He does realise that the anti-kids brigade aren't going to be flocking to the door, doesn't he?

Anonymous said...

Was in BM today sat at the table opposite these mothers. Heard the owner/manager? speaking to them and thought he was very rude. I hadn't noticed any nappy changing, the babies were asleep most of the time we were there and were quiet when not asleep. The three mothers had all eaten and clearly spent more money than the bloke on his laptop nursing one coffee for two hours but I suppose he had their money by the time he started with the attitude. I'll tell my wife not to bother going in with our little one- don't want the "child catcher" giving her nightmares. Mothers bring a lot of custom and mix in wide circles where word of mouth goes a long way for free advertising- think if he's not the owner, the owner needs to have a word before his business goes down the pan!

Anonymous said...

Well that's me going back to the 'Mess then. I for one welcome the new regime!

To all those trying to get a creche for the price of a cup of tea - go home and have a bath.

Anonymous said...

You seem to miss the point. Mothers and babies are their core custom.

Supposing this was switched and we were taking about elderly people instead of babies. If you took your elderly Nan in a wheelchair and used their wheelchair ramp, you would expect a disabled toilet. How would you feel if you were then told that your Nan should have gone to the toilet before coming out?

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