Why Croydon is becoming cool.

Croydon – definitely not a word you would associate with anything remotely cool and trendy. No  hipster beard or sourdough loaf to be found here.

At the very mention of this place you can’t help but shudder as the images of grey and crumbling 60s concrete threatens to suck out your soul.

*Disclaimer for anyone that does actually live there – I apologise, I am basing this entirely on stereotypes and pre-conceptions but it’s all for a worthy cause.

Despite this, last Friday, I chose to take the train all the way, into the deep dark depths south of the river – much further south than I had ever dared to step before.

Was it madness?

No – just Croydon edging it’s way into gentrified London AKA Boxpark have opened up a huge new complex of shipping containers-come-eateries just outside Croydon station (handily close by so you don’t have to venture too far into the town).

Much larger than the Shoreditch equivalent, everything is arranged around a covered indoor space which will make the perfect winter night out.

But it wasn’t quite ready for partying just yet. No, we had taken the long trek for another reason.

And that reason my friends – which will come as no surprise really- was food and the free kind at that.

Free food for the soft launch of The Breakfast Club - my original love in London.

Originally in Soho, this retro joint where breakfast is a meal for any time of day has expanded all over London to Spitafields, trendy Hoxton and recently gentrified Hackney Wick on the edge of the Olympic park. So, clearly Croydon is now cool enough to be graced by the presence of never ending pancakes and 1970’s décor.

I had my reservations though. Would it be the same, old –school, comfort food diner I knew and loved in a brand new, purpose built container complex?

Somehow they still manage to transport you back to the days before the internet, with their trademark school-desk table and chairs, psychedelic curtains and earthy wallpaper. There was even a DJ in a Grandad jumper spinning tunes on a vinyl deck.

So the vibes were there – but it was the food we had really come for and I was more than ready to
tuck in to whatever it was that they would allow us to have.

Cheeky ^

A starter, main AND a pudding to share was all part of the deal.

We went with the Sticky Buffalo wings which I stupidly forgot were probably going to be spicy (I have a very low tolerance for these things) and were a tad over-sauced but I was pretty hungry after my hard day at work so it didn’t take us long to clean the tray.

The next part did take forever because I am probably the worst person in the world when it comes to making decisions, especially when everything on the menu is something I could very happily eat. 
Simple, but hearty dishes is The Breakfast Club’s game. The kind of stuff your mum would make when you were a kid.

I mean, who doesn’t love a satisfying plate of MacnCheese or Beef Chilli?

In the end, after our poor waiter came back three times, I finally settled on a breakfast option because if it’s on the menu, you might as well enjoy defying the conventions and eat Eggs Benedict for dinner.

In an added twist and to prove they are a little more adventurous than your mother, mine came with chorizo, fried potatoes and the option of butternut squash instead of your usual muffin. I went for the squash obvs - because that way I would definitely have room for pudding and that was a top priority.      
But the inevitable happened and I had to get half of it boxed up anyway (to be my lunch the next day).

As tempting as it was to order the ginormous stack of pancakes, we knew this was far too ambitious for our current state and instead went for a more manageable cinnamon cheesecake (with added ice-cream).

With just that little hint of indulgence and the cinnamon adding a delicious autumnal twist it was a satisfying, if slightly uncomfortable end to a very fun (and of course, trendy) evening.

And although I’m probably not going to make the 20 minute train journey from London bridge if I want to go to a Breakfast Club anytime soon – who knows, maybe I’ll return to Croydon to get the full Boxpark experience.

Either that or for the meatballs at the IKEA.


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