I last featured Bambinos back in October 2012, when Andy Stem's curiosity shop had been given an injection of caffeine, by Ant, the self-styled Anarchista Barista. His no-nonsense approach to coffee certainly added a buzz to Church Road, but his tenure was brief, before setting off for pastures new. However, such was the success of this experiment, that Andy determined to find a more permanent operator.
Meanwhile, Mark Boyce, a former interior designer, and ceramicist, had opened a very cool cafe in Streatham. His first choice had actually been Crystal Palace, but his plans had been hindered by a lack of available space, and what's more, his friend Ant had just opened a cafe in a certain shop on Church Road! So naturally Mark didn't want to tread on his toes, and opted for SW16. After Ant's departure, the opportunity at Bambinos presented itself, and this time the plan for a cafe was to take over an entire side of the shop, finally making use of Andy's treasured old Victorian shop fittings. And what a fabulous backdrop they make to this great new hangout on Church Road. Mark confesses that it was all done on a shoestring, but that's part of its charm, alongside the locally roasted Volcano coffee, bread from a Brixton bakery and divine cakes from an ex Ottolenghi baker.
I sat outside the cafe at the weekend in glorious sunshine, and thought there's one more change needed on the Triangle, as I stared across the road at the brooding bulk of the hardly used building opposite. A cinema.
PS. I hear the opening of a Costa Coffee on Westow Street is now definite and imminent. Please vote with your feet, and keep using our wonderful local establishments.