Woodland Café, Norbury SW16

Before a global pandemic hit, Norbury showed serious signs that it was on the up.

The good work of local group Love Norbury – persuading everyone to take pride in the area and generally clean up after themselves – seemed to finally be paying off and money began to trickle down and away from the trendier suburbs.

There were three key signs confirming the change. Costa arrived, Co-Op finally agreed to upgrade its store and building works began on a new pub from one of the hottest chains in London.

These definite green shoots were largely welcomed by residents and despite two lockdowns, Costa has survived and Co-Op is about to unveil its refurbishment in time for Christmas.

The pub is yet to announce a project finish date, let alone an opening date but given the state of UK hospitality sector, it’s hardly surprising.

Woodland Café, Norbury SW16

Against all obvious odds, Woodland Café opened its doors in the summer, promising Norbury a decent neighbourhood bolt hole that would feed and water the masses from breakfast time, to lunch and on to dinner.

It’s quickly won the hearts and tummies of all who’ve visited. The first buzz created was around its cake selection – four-tiered masterpieces baked daily – displayed to captivate people in as they enter.

The enchanted woodland forest theme was something entirely new for Norbury, bringing the outside, inside.

Looking to nature for inspiration, with carefully placed foliage and floral installations, has created a relaxing ambience and people visit as much for the atmosphere, as for the food.

When I first talked to owner Elsa, prior to the opening, she described the menu as “healthy food”, made from scratch so I popped to try it for myself. And so it seems, Elsa has delivered on her promise, if the brightly-coloured salads and toasted sandwiches are anything to go by. There are lots of veggie and vegan options, too.

Woodland Café, Norbury SW16

The kitchen is busy putting its own stamp on dishes, introducing diners to the Woodland Café way of doing things, with the addition of turmeric mayonnaise. Not only is it delicious but it somehow feels better to know you’re consuming a super food at the same time. ok my family for breakfast one Saturday morning and the place was full.

The first thing that struck me about our breakfast is the use of high quality ingredients, which is essential, in my opinion. I’m talking real butter, decent eggs and the best sourdough bread. The only slight disappointment was that there is no pork on the menu so no real rashers to be had here.

Still, scrambled eggs, beef sausage, house-made baked beans, quirkily named Three Bears Beans, made using three kinds of beans no less, mushroom and grilled tomato, did the job nicely.

A smaller version for little people is available for around a fiver. Veggies and vegans are well catered for

And from the rest of the menu – the burgers looked really rather good – with a good mix of meat and non-meat options. Sweet potato fries are available, always a bonus.

Woodland Café, Norbury SW16

Woodland has an alcohol licence, which makes it a nice spot for a glass of wine and a catch with a friend over some light bites. I can vouch for the home-made chicken goujons, served with turmeric mayo.

Woodland Café is unable to seat dine-in customers until lockdown is lifted but delivers via Justeat.co.uk

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