Why you should visit Bromley’s independent food spots
Because Bromley does count as a London borough (even if everywhere else ignores it)
I’m no stranger to chains. I love a good Costa Hot Chocolate and I can’t go without a Caffè Nero Latté Macchiato.
But I’m also a huge advocate of independent food places. Most of the time, my family and I go to family-run restaurants, and independent cafés, which is pretty damn hard to do, when you live where I live.
I’m from Bromley, a borough of Greater London, and major companies like Starbucks, Pret and Maccies seem to be on every corner, but recently, I’ve noticed an increase in the opening of cafés, delis, and other lovely, little eating spots opening up.
Here are some of the best.
Java & Chai Tea Room
There’s really not much ever happening on Hayes High Street. On a normal weekday, you’ll find the secondary school students roaming around, or little old ladies scouring the charity shops. So when this quaint tea room opened up, it added a little something different.
A stone’s throw away is a Costa, and across the road, there’s a Sponge Kitchens, so it does have its competition, but with its shabby-chic décor, higgledy-piggledy chairs and tables, endless selection of teapots and teacups to have your Teapigs tea in (so much tea in one sentence) and good choice of traditional, afternoon-tea foods, from sandwiches and salads to cake and scones, it’s an excellent choice for lunch with friends or family.
The owner and staff are super-friendly, too, and you feel like a friend and a valued customer there. The location is pretty handy as well, being less than a minute from Hayes station. Did I mention it has free Wi Fi too?
Like Java & Chai Tea Room, Nineteen Fourteas is a tea room/sandwich bar, but with a twist. Despite it’s old-fashioned theme, it’s very 21st century, specialising in gluten-free cakes and soy hot drinks.
If you can’t have dairy or gluten, Nineteen Fourteas is for you, declaring itself as a place where “all intolerances are catered for” – so you can tuck into a blueberry and coconut cake, macarons, and brownies.
Based along Beckenham High Street, the tea room hosts a monthly supper club, and even holds special events like afternoon tea days dedicated to national celebrations like Mother’s Day, making it a great choice for all the family. They also do cocktails, so maybe it’s time to branch away from O’Neills and Spoons after all!
Marco’s specialises in both Italian and English food. Despite the fact there’s a pub across the road, and a great English breakfast café a few doors down, Marco’s really holds its own when it comes to good quality food and excellent service.
Not only is the atmosphere relaxed and calm, making it a perfect choice for a post-night out brunch, but the owner is funny and full of laughs too, making you feel right at home.
There’s all you could want, from salads and pasta dishes to full English breakfasts, and even cakes and other sweet treats. Plus, the coffee is to be rivalled with (probably the best Latté Macchiato I’ve had in Bromley).
Corzâ Café Bar
Down the road from West Wickham Station, Corzâ prides itself on being a family run café, passionate about good quality food and coffee. From omelettes, bagels and sandwiches, to burgers, salads and wraps, it’s a top, go-to spot for breakfast and lunch.
It’s the perfect place to go whenever, and with whoever. Having visited Corzâ dozens of times, I’ve seen cyclists, young families, couples, and groups of friends, all dining together at the same time, and it’s a real rarity these days to find a place so welcoming, that caters to all.
Plus, not only does Corzâ have toys for children to play with, there’s also a huge bookcase, where you can take a book away as long as you swap it with one of your own.
One thing Bromley has been dying for is an ice cream parlour. Yes, there’s Afters, the famous dessert restaurant in West Wickham, and you can head to Baskin-Robbins in Bromley for ice cream, but there really weren’t a lot of places around that specialised in proper Italian gelato.
Cue this independent coffee shop/gelateria was opened by a group of Italian friends from Bologna, one of which includes former Chelsea footballer, Gianfranco Zola.
UNICO not only offers authentic Italian ice cream (suitable for vegans, coeliacs, and free from preservatives and artificial flavourings), but also boasts carefully selected blends of high quality coffee, Italian cakes and Panettone (lots of which are dairy and gluten-free) AND Bubbles (Italian sandwiches made from stone ground whole grain flour and then filled with everything and anything, from aubergine and parmegiana to ricotta cream and chocolate).
Did I mention they offer a takeaway service too? The dream.