FishHelena Smithterry's

Terry's Café

FishHelena Smithterry's
Terry's Café

Leaving the borough behind, Eat Hackney crossed the river to Bankside, mythical realm of bear-baiting, theatrical pleasures and an art-filled power station. South of gothic Southwark Cathedral and the glassed arches and bottle-green ironwork of Borough Market, you come to a modest parade of old-fashioned shops on Great Suffolk Street. Push open the door of no. 158 to enter another world, and a London as venerable as the cathedral itself. The picture windows shine, cut-glass lamps glow, red and white gingham tops the tables and shelves groan with pretty plates, gleaming glasses and brimming bottles. 'Time for Terry's' reads the inscription on a gilded mirror that surrounds an antique clock. By Jove, I think it is.

 The dreamscape at Terry's: prize fish, a ceramic parrot and a French flag

The dreamscape at Terry's: prize fish, a ceramic parrot and a French flag

Terry's Café was founded by the eponymous Terry in 1982, though it must have been a nostalgia trip even then, harking back to his own childhood. Born and raised in Borough, Terry had bombed out streets as his playground and Kent hop fields as his holiday location. After a career as a butcher at Smithfield Market he set up the café, which his son Austin now runs with panache: meat still comes from Smithfields and fresh produce from Borough Market. The breakfast menu runs the gamut from 'blowout' to buck rarebit (cheddar cheese on toast topped with an egg), while for lunch there are hot fish-finger sandwiches, omelettes and specials such as toad in the hole. The café is soon to branch out with afternoon tea, and a bistro menu for the evenings with vino supplied by Borough Wines.

 A cup of tea or three, served by the very dapper Austin, named in honour of Austin's of Peckham antique shop, which thereafter gave his canny father a discount.

A cup of tea or three, served by the very dapper Austin, named in honour of Austin's of Peckham antique shop, which thereafter gave his canny father a discount.

Terry's is the kind of place where the kettle's always boiling, and everyone knows your name. And if they don't they'll tease it out of you pretty quickly. 'HELLLLOOOO' sings one regular at high volume as I struggle to capture the steam-filled glory with my camera: 'IS IT ME YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?' 'You ain't one of them vegans are you?' asks another. 'Ummm, vegetarian.' 'Well just have a sausage here, it won't make no difference. They're top quality.'

Click and press play to hear a punter riffing on the theme of more money than sense!

Big breakfasts, big banter and a cheeky take on British tradition: it's definitely time for Terry's.

Terry's Café, 158 Great Suffolk St, London SE1 1PE

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