Blue Jay Cafe, SE25 4PP
- 020 8656 9050
- 2 Market Parade, Portland Road, SE25 4PP
- Mon-Fri: 8am-10pm; Sat: 9am-10pm; Sun/Bank Hol: closed
Caribbean cafe in South Norwood.
It's quite small, seating around 30 people inside and a couple more out the front on a small patio protected from the street by railings and plants. Large framed art prints hang on the cream-painted walls, and the wood-effect laminate floor is echoed in the wood-effect melamine table tops. Chairs are padded blue pleather. A flatscreen is mounted high in one corner, and large windows look out onto the patio. A service counter at the back holds cakes (lemon, carrot, chocolate) and savoury items such as callaloo fritters.
Kake has visited twice now, most recently in August 2019. On a Wednesday morning in June 2018, there were around half a dozen other customers when I arrived around 9:30pm, and more were in and out while I was there; it peaked at around 15 people at 10:30am but had quietened down again by the time I left just after 11am. Music was playing (Smooth Radio), not too loud. On a Friday morning in August 2019 there was just one other customer at 9am, but it was almost full when I left around 11am, and they'd also been kept quite busy with takeaway and telephone orders, leading to small queues at times.
Caribbean breakfast (£6 in June 2018) photo was pretty good. The baked beans were good quality, and presented in a small bowl, catering for those who don't like their beans to touch the other components. Fried dumplings were also good, crisp on the top and soft within. Saltfish and ackee had a good balance of ingredients, wasn't too salty, and the saltfish pieces were neither too big nor too small. The sausage was beef, and nothing special (chicken sausages are also available). Unfortunately the fried plantains seemed to have been cooked too far in advance; they were a little hard when they arrived and got harder when they cooled down. Overall, though, it was a good breakfast, with everything going together nicely. Nothing was particularly spicy, but there were bottles of a decent scotch bonnet sauce on the tables as well as ketchup.
On my second visit I went for choose-your-own breakfast (£1.50/item in Aug 2019), choosing brown toast, seasoned beans, ackee, and callaloo photo. The seasoned beans very good, with lightly-cooked onion and peppers. Ackee this time was perhaps just a little too saltfish-heavy with all the other things, and I had to pick some of the fish out to avoid salt overload. Callaloo had a couple of stringy bits but was overall fine. I'd certainly order this combination again but might ask for vegetarian ackee next time.
They have free WiFi, with no password.
Child-friendliness: They have one high chair, and a children's menu. There were children in during both our visits. No obvious nappy-change facilities.
Accessibility: Step-free to get in via a ramp. A small step to the single toilet cubicle, and access is a bit narrow. The tables are quite close together, but neither chairs nor tables are fixed to the floor.
Kake's verdict: I'd definitely come back if I was in the area, and I think it's worth a short journey too.