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Esquires Coffee

Restaurants, Cafés Balham
2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

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A cafe on Bedford Hill, opposite The Bedford pub.

Before you ask, no, there’s no connection to the men’s mag. Esquires Coffee is actually part of a nationwide franchise. In fact, this Balham newcomer looks uncannily like its predecessor, Lavish Habit, right down to the mis-matched furniture and the stacks of girly gift-shop wares for sale. Not that this is a bad thing: it was always cute and characterful and happily still is. Other elements have changed, though: the service is nicer, for instance. Sadly, the cooking has gone downhill.

The best things were sweet. There was a trio of thick Canadian-style hot cakes served with maple syrup, a stack of thin-cut bacon and – slightly oddly – slices of banana. Coffees, smoothies and juices were freshly made.

But beware of brunch proper: it’s amateurish at best. Portions may be large but scrambled eggs were bland and bulked-out, meat was fatty, tomato halves were undercooked. Put it this way, on a plate of smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, the (bought-in) salmon was the best thing. The sourdough is decent enough, but there’s too much of it: it all smacks of a cash-strapped home cook trying to make meals go further.

As a place to hang out over coffee and a slice of (bought-in) cake, Esquires does the job. But it’s got a long way to go if it want to join the best of Balham’s brunch brigade.


Address: 75 Bedford Hill
SW12 9HA
Transport: Balham tube/rail.
Price: Brunch for two with hot drinks and service: around £35.
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