Time Out says
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Balham brunch spot from a trio of twenty-something schoolfriends.
What a difference a day makes. Or, in the case of Brother Marcus, four days. On April 17, the twenty-something trio behind this new Balham hangout picked up the keys from previous owners The Chestnut (a well-meaning but old-fashioned caff); by April 21 they were open. In that time they’d painted the sign, built the tables, taken the press shots. They didn’t pay a penny to another person (‘we couldn’t have even if we’d wanted to’, one comments, ‘we didn’t have any money’).
Turns out the founders – all friends from school – are a multi-talented lot. When not front of house, Alex Large, who spent a summer with street vendors Stake Haus and learned coffee-making and cocktail-shaking at Caravan, is an actor (at the time of writing, he was in a comic play at Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre). Arthur Campbell’s background was in branding, Tasos Gaitanos is both photographer and chef (his family own several restaurants in Elounda, Greece; ‘he has cooking in his blood’, declares Large, proudly).
By day, Brother Marcus offers the hipster holy trinity of brunch, cocktails and coffee. Plus street-side windows that open right up if it’s warm enough (it’s all terribly Brooklyn) and a cute courtyard out back. The food is mostly excellent, with ‘brunch’ translating to quality ingredients heaped onto toasted sourdough: pillowy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, asparagus and chilli flakes, say. A flat white was smooth and mellow, a plate of fruit so fresh it warranted a slap. Only the lacklustre pastries got a big thumbs-down, but when I expressed concern, they said they’d already been thinking about switching supplier and would therefore ‘get right on it’.
On weekend evenings, the cafe’s kitchen is turned over to one of their street food or supper club buddies (check Twitter/Facebook for details); during the week they close at 4.30pm and it becomes a space for the rest of their extended gang to hold events. One friend, recently back from Sri Lanka (obvs) is running yoga sessions there; another is due to start up an art class.
As for the name, it’s how Large used to refer to his brother (‘Brother Marcus says we should do this’) and was always the cause of much LOL-ing among their group. (Brother) Marcus should be proud.
9 Chestnut Grove
|Price:||Brunch for two with drinks and service: £30.|
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