Tucked away down Deptford High Street you might be surprised to find a brightly painted train carriage, home to the Deptford Project Café.
The café is the first stage in a plan to regenerate the area and sits by the Deptford Project market, which hosts contemporary art installations, live music, and arts and crafts stalls.
Step into the converted South East Trains carriage and you find a bright and airy space with some cool design touches, like a patchwork settee. Everything from the lamps to the chairs have been made by local artists and designers. The food – bruschetta, jerked chicken, home-baked cakes – is all made with locally sourced ingredients and served on pretty, retro crockery.
Ajay Joshi, who has been the chef for the past seven months, says it can be awkward cooking in the small kitchen but he must be getting it right as the café is listed in Time Out’s ‘Food and Drink Top 50’.
Ajay gets a lot of his fresh produce from the stalls along Deptford High Street: “The whole thing about this café is to promote Deptford. It’s basically there for the community. We really want everyone off the high street to come in.”
“We’re trying to introduce people to Deptford as a place to be at the moment. There’s a lot going on in Deptford.”
With even The New York Times travel section running a piece on Deptford as an up-and-coming, ‘hip’ part of London, it seems it’s working.
Andreia, a waitress at the café, thinks Deptford could start giving East London a run for its money: “Deptford’s cool. I reckon Deptford’s better than Shoreditch.”