The Rookery Café is nothing short of a little piece of paradise, offering shelter in the rainy days of winter, and refuge from the blazing heat of recent glorious summer days.
Nestled at the top of Streatham Common, with no neighbouring competition, it impresses easily and is nearly always busy, no matter the time of day.
You’d be forgiven for thinking a baby or dog is a pre-requisite for visiting; they aren’t, but without one of these, you’ll be in a minority.
It’s probably more of an indication of the kind of crowd out for long walks and in need of nourishment.
On the doorstep of The Rookery Gardens, the opportunity for a stroll is too tempting not to take up.
There’s plenty of outdoor seating, which is handy as space inside is limited, and once a few hounds and buggies make their way inside, it can get a little tight.
The Rookery isn’t just a café, but a community hub, where you’ll more than likely bump into someone you know.
If you want to know what’s going on in the local area, the back wall will reveal all. I’ve been known to spend 20 minutes gazing at it and reading every new flyer, highlighting local events and classes, before even ordering food.
This place is a blueprint of how cafes should be – using the best ingredients to create comforting plates people want to eat and will return for.
My favourite time of day to visit is mid-morning, which creates the perfect excuse to stop for breakfast or brunch. I love the fact that Clarence Court eggs are served as standard – beautifully yellow yolks and used in many Michelin-starred kitchens.
Poached eggs on sourdough toast with smashed avocado and bacon will set you back £9, but boy is it worth it.
Attention to detail is key in this kitchen, and you’ll often find a scattering of edible flowers decorating the plate.
Breakfast baps are a good option – a sausage or bacon bap just £4.
This modern menu takes into account the vegetarian and vegan palate also, with dishes such as avocado and feta on sourdough, with smoky beetroot jam, roast feta, pumpkin seed and coriander dressing.
Lunchtime visitors can avail themselves of several lighter options, such as roast courgette and buckwheat salad, sweetcorn and coriander fritters, and Rookery summer salad.
The latter combines sun-blushed tomatoes, quinoa, cauliflower fritters, pickled courgette, watermelon radish, sweet potato, avocado and basil.
Tasty, thoroughly healthy, and a great way to reach your five-a-day veg quota.
There’s always a soup of the day, and if you’re particularly peckish, the beef burger is very good.
If yours is a pit stop mid walk, there’s plenty of fair trade coffee and lots of homemade cake.
Should the sun be over the yardarm, you might like to enjoy a tipple, with solid wine and beer lists. There’s even a beer made a few yards away at Inkspot Brewery.
Nice to see the mainstay of its customer base hasn’t been forgotten, with healthy dishes for kids, including a tomato- based pasta.
From Streatham High Road, the walk up to the top of the common is a good schlep that’ll take less than 10 minutes.
I’m sure the opening of The Little Rook a few months ago came as welcome relief to some.
This baby sister kiosk-style offering is right next to the playground, with plenty to eat and drink for the whole family.