“It’s like that ‘crawled out of bed with a Sunday hangover and mum’s got piping hot tea and eggs on toast for you’ feeling – bottled and served up whenever you want”
Tucked in the shadows of London’s-ugliest-new-building-award-winning ‘Strata Tower’, just out of earshot of Elephant’s railway, roundabout and Walworth road barbers, pound shops and supermarkets, I discover the Electric Elephant stands up well in the British summertime – offering a sun-trap courtyard to sup on an Earl Grey tea when the weather was fair and the equivalent of a duvet and a cuddle when the outside was all depression and useless sunglasses.
On offer is bit of everything you fancy – all-day breakfast, sandwiches, smoothies, cakes and pastries – and the atmosphere is about as laid back as it gets. It’s like that ‘crawled out of bed with a Sunday hangover and mum’s got piping hot tea and eggs on toast for you’ feeling – bottled and served up whenever you want it.
Sadly on my first visit the coffee machine was out of action but actually my Earl Grey tea set off perfectly a cracking bubble and squeak on toast. The more high-brow poached eggs with salmon, avocado and foaming hollandaise I devoured on my return visit was nothing but spot on. This is its product – just good honest grub in a home away from home.
As it turns out, looks should not deceive – the humble exterior and low-fi decor in fact throw off the reality that the café is now becoming ever more popular with international visitors staying in the nearby hostel or turning up in Airbnb flats around the area. The Pullens Yard, steeped in its ‘survived the blitz’ history and lovingly held in time as an artist’s studio mecca, provides a steady flow of clientèle partial to a cuppa and brownie. And the London College of Communication, young people in search of wifi and, as owner Louisa puts it, “not harmfully expensive prices”. Even Brad Pitt was loitering nearby on a recent movie shoot…
The Electric Elephant to me is the perfect antidote to the cool but cardboard cut-out East London cafés. It’s a bohemian greasy spoon – serving up everything you want to eat, exactly as it comes, while selling local art from its walls.
About as British as it gets – I struggle to think where else you can get bubble and squeak on toast – this deserves a place on the list of little nooks to hit on any less-than-touristy London tour. And I hope will hold its unique place in rapidly changing Elephant and Castle, if mainly for the creative crowd.
The Electric Elephant, 186a Crampton Street, London SE17 3AE