One of the best things about moving house is exploring all the little shops and restaurants of your new 'hood. But obviously for me it's all about discovering previously unknown cafes and teashops. So when my friend L told me she had spotted a nice looking cafe near the place she does an upholstery course (note to self: check out the courses there ASAP) I could hardly wait to go.
We started with lunch: I had a spicy veg pasty and salad and my friend went for an avocado & tuna salad. It was all tasty and organically leaning but to be honest it was fine rather than amazing. Very much simple, hearty fare. We hadn't planned on having anything else but as I was trying to choose my food up at the counter I found my eyes being drawn to some amazing looking homemade cakes. We ended up chatting for so long we found we had segued into tea time and it seemed foolish not to try the sweet things on offer.
And I am so glad we did. The tea selection was OK, all bagged but all Clipper Organic. I went for a Redbush as I wasn't in a caffeine mood and drank it, as usual, with milk. L opted for a cappuccino which she reported to be rather good. But, yeah yeah, drinks schminks - what about the cakes? Well, they were blooming fantastic. L had a fig and walnut cake which was fresh and delicious. It had an amazing buttercream in the middle which wasn't overly sweet and the cake had a firm but not heavy texture. But mine, wow, it was delicious. A chocolate and cherry cake, it had that homemade look (i.e. a little uneven) but the taste was basically perfect. The sponge reminded me of a flourless chocolate cake - incredibly light and airy but intensely chocolatey: no cocoa powder here, this was the real deal. And the filling in the middle, a slightly sweetened whipped cream stuffed full of cherries. Really, it was a fantastic cake. Whoever does the baking at Petitou is certainly gifted. I can't recall a cake that has lingered in my memory in quite the same way. Sure, I love chocolate and cherries but the execution of the cake was top notch.
The atmosphere in the cafe itself was friendly, laid-back and (that charming phrase from my youth) continental. Although I'd be hard pushed to say which country on the continent it felt like, it was certainly not what I had imagined the back-streets of Peckham to be like. After such a pleasant afternoon I now find myself dreaming of returning, but with so many new cafes to explore it seems crazy to go back to the same one; doesn't it? Well, maybe in a week or two I can check it out again - just to be sure that those cakes really are as good as I remember.