Wednesday, 23 July 2008

More bad news for Deptford cafes

Deptford is going to be even shorter of decent cafes this summer, with the announcement that the Bear Cafe is closing on Friday 25th July, apparently due to 'unresolved financial, building and staffing issues'. But they are hoping to reopen in September, so it's not as final as the sad loss of Deptford Properly was. In fact I'm sure there have been short-term closures of the Bear Cafe in the past, so hopefully it will be back later in the year. In the meantime, if you get chance to go down there on Friday, they will be selling off all their unsold chocolate bars, packs of Fairtrade tea and coffee and so on.

I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Bear Cafe over the years - at first I loved it because it was about the only place in Deptford doing decent coffee and tasty homemade salads and soups. It's got lots of seating space in the back for loafing around, not to mention the sheltered little garden that can be very pleasant in the sunshine. The presence of the gallery gives it that edge over just a regular cafe, and the exhibitions cover a broad spectrum of style and subject matter

But then there were the wilderness years - and not too long ago either! It seemed every time I visited, half the menu of sandwiches were unavailable, or they only had sliced bread. No humus, no ciabatta, no brie, etc. The Geezer and I used to joke that it would be quicker to ask what WAS available before ordering. Not to mention the fact that sometimes the big room at the back turned into a badly-run creche - children running round screaming while their parents sat chatting and ignoring the chaos.

I think that the arrival of the Deptford Project provided something of a kick up the backside. The past few months have seen earlier opening hours, consistent availability of menu items, and service that was much less haphazard.

I seriously hope that it will reopen later in the year - not just because of their divine sweet potato salad and the spicy split pea soup that I'm still trying to recreate at home, but for the sake of genuine competition and variety for the High St.

So while we're on the subject, don't forget some of our other great local (independent) cafes which I will try and review soon. One of the High St's hidden gems is the Albany cafe - plenty of room both inside and in the garden at the back, and a short but varied menu that changes every day. Usually one meat and one vegetarian dish, plus some fantastic home-made soups and some great cakes too. The good news is that the Albany cafe is planning to open Sunday afternoons from September onwards.

Also on the radar is the Laban Centre's cafe and bar which serves a range of wholesome meals, sandwiches and salads, not to mention a delicious range of soft drinks and teas. According to the website, it is open Thursday evenings for drinks and games, with special promotions on certain beers.

Let's hope that we don't lose any more of our local independents - the best way to keep them going is get down there and use them! I'd like to see more of them opening evenings or Sundays but I realise it's a bit of a chicken and egg situation because no-one really plans to eat out in Deptford in the evening since the options are so limited.


Transpontine said...

Shame, I echo your comments about its variability, but there have been times I have been very thankful for it being there. Its linked to a church isn't it - I think that band Athlete were involved in it at one point. Laban cafe is definitely worth a visit.

CarolineLD said...

Oh, I hope it does reopen - and thanks for the tip about the Laban cafe, which I didn't know about.

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I was suprised and pleased to read your blog entry about our Cafe.

My name is Dale, and I will be taking over management of the cafe in September. We plan to continue all our current menu's - Soup, Sandwich and Salad - as well as add some new tasty delights.

We are also going to be working on a little Bear Cafe Recipe booklet (we'll have to think of a snappier name than that!) containing the recipes for all our Salads, Soups and Sandwiches, so that you *can* finally recreate that favourite dish at home. Hopefully, we'll also come up with enough new ones that you'll keep coming back.

The date for re-opening is 8 September, and we invite you, your blog readers, and anyone else who enjoys wholesome food and good coffee to come along and sample our goodies.

Looking forward to seing you back!

Dale and the Bear Cafe