Please note, Spike + Earl has now closed. Time Out Food editors, February 2019.
You’d probably expect ordering a coffee at the home of south London’s most revered roastery to be an absolute nightmare. There’ll be beans to choose, surely, then 40-odd types of milk to pick from and – oh god – brewing methods to consider. Can someone remind me what the hell a Chemex looks like?
Luckily, though, the coffee geekery is kept to a bare minimum at Spike + Earl, a new café brought to you by bean-slinging social enterprise Old Spike Roastery. While you’re welcome to be more specific, the options for a cup of joe are simply ‘with milk’, ‘without’, ‘cold brew’ or ‘filter’. It makes Costa look like a pretentious hipster café – and that’s meant as a compliment.
Aesthetically, though, it’s every bit the modern brunch spot. Set within a gallery-like space on the ground floor of the former Southwark Town Hall, it’s decorated with sturdy cinderblock, granite furniture and a strict monochrome colour scheme, with a smattering of potted succulents the only concession to colour.
Though more substantial dishes are served after 5pm (along with cocktails and local beers), daytime is primetime, when food choices amount to a small selection of classic brunch dishes and sandwiches. The latter came in the form of a ‘Dutch crunch’ – a bun with a dry, crunchy exterior and a regularly changing line-up of fillings that are substantial for the price. That USP bread, though, can be a bit hit and miss – on one visit it was pleasingly tough and chewy, on another it was dry enough to inflict some considerable roof-of-mouth trauma.
Gob wounds aside, there’s very little at fault at Spike + Earl, and Old Spike’s commitment to community work is just the foam on the latte. Sorry, ‘coffee with milk’.