Take me home please
Cockney's, 51 Frith Road, Croydon
Season 2016-2017

Five years have eelapsed since Team P-n-M last visited Cockney’s of Croydon. It is situated on Frith Road, which is more or less opposite the top end of the famous Surrey Street Market. Both thoroughfares offer a glimpse of ‘Old Croydon’ – between the rampant upthrusts of new development.

Within Cockney’s compact confines, things were reassuringly much as we left them in early 2012, aside from the prices on the centrepiece menu board.

Sue Madigan eased herself back into the proceedings after a midwinter layoff.

Ed Mosse is a man for whom rest is of secondary importance; socialising is his prime directive. He thought the eels were a bit ‘weird’. As a general statement I concur. The medievals, unaware of the epic migratory path of Anguilla anguilla, thought the mysterious materialisation of this serpentine sea creature in our rivulets and brooks the work of the devil. That said, I could detect no weirdness in these morsels – they were the real d-eel, if slightly overstewed.

Medallions of eel with dribbles of Dunns River Hot Stuff. We always bring our own, but if you’re a regular, it is possible to store your preferred condiment behind the counter, like the Australian lady with her tomato ketchup.

Pie and mash is best dished up in wreaths of steamy vapour.

With the scoops, this is a modern presentation but the combination of flavours, including a robust parsley sauce, is very traditional. 

In this post-Charalambous era, the league is wide open for the taking by a big hitter like Nick Everton. His two-plate assault brought in 34 points on the day, but we’ll have to see how new work commitments shape the rest of a promising first season. His brother Gary was not drawn into any sibling rivalry, chalking up a sensible 16 on his pie club debut.

What a delight to see once more my erudite ex-editorial colleague Sandra Margolies at the marble, alongside new boy wonder Ray Goldstone, who has made a splendid showing so far in 16–17.

[Below] Cockney’s Chilli Vinegar is wrapped up in appetising packaging.

Your correspondent and statistician gets cracking.

How wonderfully easy it is to get into – and out of – Croydon these days. Denise Rouse took advantage of a direct service from Milton Keynes via Clapham Junction to partake of her usual jellied starter in timely fashion.

The Two J’s, comfortably ensconced in the forward booth.

At our table we had an engrossing conversation about the relative merits of those forgotten foodstuffs, faggots and rissoles.

Opposite they were guzzling Baldwin's Sarsaparilla.

An unexpected turnout of 11 dominated the small dining room, but there was still some space left for normal people.

What marks the Cockney’s experience as unique is the family behind it. The collection of old bank notes around the menu offers a bit of a cultural clue – I have only ever seen it in Mediterranean cafes and restaurants. As it happened, the parents of propie-tor Max had made a special trip in from Orpington to meet us.

[Near right] Our Sue chats to their Sue.

[Far right] Ismail takes his lunch, telling me a little of his story: He arrived from Cyprus in 1960 as a young man of 20 in search of work. He found it the next day in a rubber factory at Dalston. He later met and married Safiye [‘Sue’], a girl from his own village who grew up in London in the 1950's. They settled in Peckham and he spent the rest of his working life as a builder in North London. These days they are both retired, but usually come in on Mondays to give their son a day off.

[Below] James and Yusuf were our Friday Pie-Guys.

Cockney’s of Croydon prides itself on providing a clean, tidy and authentic dining experience, with a well-stocked gallery of cockney paraphernalia and memorabilia, including cockney rhyming mottos at coving level. A framed 5-star award from the original Pie and Mash Club of Great Britain has been retained from the original premises around the corner on Church Street.

Cockney’s also runs a delivery service, and has been instrumental in securing more local outlets for pie and mash. It provided ready-to-bake pies to Byrne’s of Wallington when they started trading a few years ago.

 

It’s a small shop with a big heart and a wide influence. With East Croydon now boasting its own ‘Box Park’ eating-as-leisure precinct, an authentic community-based diner like Cockney's is more valuable than ever. Go there soon and experience a warm welcome, for who knows what tomorrow will bring?
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