Monday, 23 January 2012

Bertie and Boo - a Balham Institution

This place is a Balham institution and I can kind of understand why, that said I can't see it ever being my favourite coffee shop in Balham...

Sunday kind of slipped away, an unscheduled afternoon snooze meant we didn't get out for coffee until it was starting to get dark. Fortunately Bertie and Boo was still buzzing. It is very alluring in the fading light with a warm glow coming from inside.

I used to spend more time at Bertie and Boo but a few things got to me and I found other places that served my needs better. My gripes from the old days were: too crowded, the service area is in an annoyingly inconvenient spot, the cakes never seemed to be made with much heart and the coffee was ok at best. The best thing about this place for me is the location - prime people watching territory.

But this year my mission is to try out coffee shops without my prejudices of the past, and I'm pleased I did.

The order was single shot espresso, flat white, chai latte and piece of carrot cake.

Espresso was hot and tasted good but wasn't kick ass.

The flat white - Bertie and Boo was possibly the first cafe in Balham to do a flat white so kudos to them, but they're not the best. TOO BIG. A good flat white will not come in a large cup, it will have an intense flavour but in a big cup with loads of milk the strong flavour doesn't come through. The milk was nice and creamy though which was a plus.

Another plus is a chai latte - cafes of Balham take note - not enough places do chai. Lots of mums and pregnant ladies around looking for a no or low caffiene alternative, decaf coffee is generally poor (although at least one place in Balham has good decaf). The answer is chai. Mrs Spiller enjoyed her chai latte, thank you.

The cake, the biggest surprise for me. I'm probably more particular about my cakes than my coffees and the standard of cake at Bertie and Boo was one of my reasons for not making it a regualr of mine. However I'm pleased I gave the cake another go, my carrot cake, despite being one of the last pieces was fresh and very tasty. I guess my problem in the past is that the cakes look a bit factory made, but putting looks aside (and it may just be a meticulous baker), it tasted delicious. So I've changed my tune on Bertie and Boo cakes.

My biggest issue with Bertie and Boo remains the layout of the cafe, you are hearded into a corner to order and collect, it's just really poor use of space and can be a bad start to your experience. I think a refit might be in order based around a customer journey (i.e. pick up cake -> order coffee/food -> pay ->collect -> sit). This might help speed up the service too - although it wasn't bad when we were there.

So a few things to work on but Bertie and Boo will always be busy no matter what, great location, nice atmosphere and good menu. They'll do fine without my advice thank you very much.

So the scores:

Hot: 7/13
Aroma: 6/13
Flavour: 6/13
Texture: 10/13
Presentation: 7/13

Service: 8/13
Food: 9/13
Atmosphere: 9/13

Overall 7/13.

Bertie and Boo on Urbanspoon

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