Earlsfield’s Secret Garden
Let’s face it, Garratt Lane in Wandsworth isn’t exactly blessed with beauty and charm. Running all the way from Wandsworth High Street to Tooting Broadway, it’s long, busy and mostly best driven through and forgotten. Until that is, you get to the Earlsfield bit of it, when all of a sudden, it metamorphoses into a small town neighbourhood high street with nice looking independent shops, restaurants and cafes. That’s more like it! Left and right are leafy residential streets with Victorian and Edwardian houses, many of which have been converted into desirable flats, popular with London’s young professionals, among them my son and his lovely wife.
My son is a human dynamo, a lateral thinker, always fizzing with bright ideas and creativity. He’s impatient, clever, charming and, to his good fortune, has intensely blue eyes and outstanding negotiation skills, both of which have got him off the hook throughout his rather naughty childhood and adolescence. I blame every single grey hair I have on him. He was, what you might conservatively call, a handful, but in adulthood has matured into a handsome, savvy and sympatico young man. One day a week he works from his home office as I do from mine and sometimes we take the opportunity to meet up for a quick face to face and catch up. We are so alike in looks and character that it feels like having lunch with my mirror image, except, of course, that he is roughly half my age and very much a male but let’s not get stuck on detail here. In any case, the boy likes his burgers, so it’s always a good idea to entice him out by choosing somewhere that offers a good mince patty in a decent bun.
Mel’s Vintage Beats and Breakfast, on the corner of Garratt Lane and Wayneflete Street, is, as the name makes clear, a mildly retro styled and relaxed diner with album covers on the wall and the unbeatable asset of a secluded garden in the back. It’s owned by the Food and Fuel Group but is not part of a chain and very much has it’s own individual character. Here, you can get that wonderful thing, an all day breakfast as well as the famed burgers. Their kedgeree is the talk of town and the ‘Bryan Adams’ is a glorious stackck of pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup. Then there are eggs in all sorts of permutations and with a variety of delicious sounding accompaniment options. Best of all, as calorific and meaty as the full English is, vegetarians are not a side thought here but have their own lovingly prepared dishes too, the Vedgeree for instance or the Veggie Works, just to name a couple. And then the homemade burgers! Fancy a Georgios Kyriakos, a spiced lamb burger with halloumi and tzatziki? Or a Californication, a char grilled steak burger with chilli chorizo relish? The list of choices is varied and mouthwatering.
Mr. Blue Eyes had been held up in some intense business meeting, so was just a tad late getting to Mel’s. A punctuality freak like his mother, he was a little frazzled and hot and bothered but the sight of the menu soon put a smile on his face. I, on the other hand, had arrived a little early, so I had half an hour all to myself in the tranquil garden, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying a simply vast cup of coffee.
On this occasion, the boy went for two poached eggs and bacon on granary toast which were excellent and done to perfection. I was overcome by my infernal inner cookie monster and, shamefully, ordered an Oreo cheesecake with a blackberry sauce. The first couple of bites tasted great but then I was hit by remorse and found it to be just a little too sickly sweet and after palming some off to my son, we left half. I can’t honestly say whether it was the cake or just the fact that my eyes had been bigger than my stomach. Either way, we had a wonderful time in that lovely little suntrap of a garden, exchanging news and views and, as is our way, getting excited about all sorts of new projects. Service was attentive and friendly and prices at £5.00 for the poached eggs and £5.50 for the Oreo Cheesecake perfectly acceptable.
Talking about value for money, Mel’s offers a two-for-one burger deal until 5 pm Sundays through to Thursdays, and Fridays two-for-one cocktails between 6pm and 8pm. The atmosphere is congenial and fun. Since Mel’s is located in London’s Nappy Valley area, it also caters sympathetically to young families with a special menu for children.
Mel’s Vintage Beats and Breakfast, 573 Garratt Lane, London SW18 4ST Tel.: (0)20 8944 5718 www.foodandfuel.co.uk