“ Address: 162 Balham High Road / London / SW12 9BW / England „
As a Balham local I often walked past this bustling little café on a street corner on the high road before I decided to poke my nose in and take a look. The banners outside that show the cafe has won 'best independent coffee shop in London' gold & silver awards were another pull factor.
The café is very popular as an afternoon spot for mums and young children, but also is popular with individuals who fancy reading their book with a cold or a hot drink on one of the deckchairs outside. For the record, I'm one of the latter. Although at certain times of the day (And all day Saturdays) the mums-with-children thing can be too much, it is no worse than any other coffee shop in the area. It really depends on the children and your tolerances.
They sell a range of cakes & muffins, sandwiches & toasties, and hot & cold drinks. I've found the hot drinks to be high quality with tasty teas and good-quality coffee at a reasonable price for an independent café. I rate it higher than Caffé Nero over the road. The cold fruit smoothies are also excellent, though the choice is limited by two of them (Raspberry Detox in particular) being appealing and the others less so.
The food is good - I love their BBLT (BLT with brie) and turkey, brie & cranberry - especially the toasties. Though bear in mind that I am obsessed with brie. I find that there's a bit too much salad in the paninis. The sandwiches are fairly pricey as sandwiches go, but for a small, cheap lunch in the area it can't be beaten. The cakes are apparently home-made by local people and all are excellent - as a great fan of it, I can report the carrot cake is fantastic.
I'm not sure how crazy I am about the atmosphere in the café - it can be a bit difficult to relax because it is a very small café and quite loud due to the kitchen machinery inside and the traffic from the high street outside. I really like the décor, especially the pictures high on the walls and two copper sheets on the bottom of the bar. One of the highlights is the 'tables' inside and out - instead of boring little tables they've recycled old school desks that even have the lifting lid - so full of character and original! Also the deckchairs outside are a really nice touch, as is the stationary pretend car for children. Its just a bit loud and a bit crowded for me.
The service is decent and extremely friendly, sometimes I wish it was a bit quicker but its good to know its not rushed & that everything is honest and not out of a cardboard box. Overall, Bertie and Boo is reasonably priced for the area and I take a bit of joy in sitting in one of their original deckchairs, sipping a good independent coffee, while looking at the streams of people going into Nero and paying over-the-odds for a fairly regular cup of coffee from a boring chain. For a coffee shop it also has a good, ranging selection of sandwiches and cakes - much more interesting and tasty than at Starbucks or Nero nearby. B&B is well worth a try.