Point Zero

Polish Cafe/Deli

Trafalgar Rd, SE10

I’ve been watching the progress of this place through darkened windows ever since the ridiculously-named “Yew Wood Knot Believe It” closed. At first I feared that it had merely been done up for the living accommodation above it, leaving the shop below to rot- and frankly I suspect it had been – there’s now a rather awkwardly-shaped entrance to the shop below as yet another minuscule flatlet has been created upstairs. But unlike others further along in Woolwich Road which have received the same treatment but are left all dressed up and nowhere to go, whitewashed windows the furthest you can see in, luckily someone decided to show a little faith and move in.

I guess I should admit right now that I don’t think this particular cafe is aimed at the likes of me. It is very much a Local Polish Shop for Local Polish People. And good for them. It’s nicely done on the whole and of course I don’t mind if a shop’s not really for me if it’s a credit to the neighbourhood.

And it’s really not bad to look at. They’ve obviously spent money on it – little recesses in the front with long mirrors, a curved glass counter with a large selection of Polish sausages, meats, cheeses and other cold goods, and, at the back, a series of arched wooden shelves groaning with imported Polish tins, jars and packet goods. They seem almost stereotypical to me – lots of pickles, sausages and root vegetable soups in the main, though there are some interesting-looking blancmanges and other dishes. I suspect this selection very much represents ‘comfort food’ for people far away from home – and, were I living in Poland, I would be delighted at a reciprocal store there.

The rest is fashionably plainly decorated – the omnipresent laminate floors, slung ceiling with inset lighting and white-painted walls, but it’s well done and suits the three simple round tables at the front with their wiggly blue glass vases filled with sprigs of spring flowers. The floor and window sill are filled with Polish fashion magazines (and one or two token English-language ones so the rest of us don’t feel too left out…)

Somewhat randomly along one wall lies a fridge of sundry cold drinks, and at the back there’s another with some interesting-looking cream cakes. As I walked in I was greeted by The Carpenters, a nice retro throwback – until I realised they were on the radio, which, one I realised it was a random choice, somehow didn’t seem quite so cool.

The staff seemed a little distant – but not unpleasant. Perhaps it was a language thing. They got my coffee order wrong, but changed it immediately with no fuss. I always think that getting something wrong happens to us all from time to time – it’s the way that people deal with mistakes that makes the difference.

I confess the coffee itself was a bit on the strong side for me, already suffering from The Mother Of All Hangovers. This brain-splitting brew was so thick that I could almost physically feel it travelling upwards to sear through my head as yet another punishment for the previous night’s indiscretions. I think even on a good day this would have been a bit dark for me, though as a cup of coffee to look at it was a thing of beauty – thick brown-white crema, almost entirely obscuring dark, dark coffee below. A medium cup cost £ 1.75

I’m glad Point Zero has opened. It looks good, sells interesting things and, I suspect, will stylishly fill a gap in the market for people a long way from home. But I don’t think it’s going to replace the Trafalgar Cafe in my own affections just yet…

See tomorrow for the other new caff along Trafalgar Road…

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