Dallying in the Alley in the Spring Sunshine

Penny Flood stops for breakfast at Hammersmith's new riverside cafe

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If you like to stop for a tea or coffee  while on a riverside walk, and you think there’s more to breakfast than full English, and you appreciate places where well behaved dogs are welcome, the chances are that you’ve already discovered The Skittle Alley Coffee & Pantry, a new addition to the local cafe scene.

It’s attached to the back of the Black Lion pub, where the skittle alley used to be, which accounts for its long narrow shape.

It’s an odd shape that could have been wasted, but its potential was seized on by two enterprising Chiswick ladies, Georgina Williams and Lindsay Elder who a spotted a gap in the market and set about sorting it out.

Now it’s a delightful venue serving teas, coffee and freshly squeezed juices with cakes ad biscuits and snacks as well as breakfast all the way from eight thirty till noon on Monday through Friday and nine till one on Saturday.

One Saturday I went for a walk along the river with my friend and her very well behaved dog and breakfast at the Skittle Alley was a good place to start.  It was a lovely day so we sat outside in the big tree lined courtyard. When the weather’s not so pleasant you can sit indoors at a communal table.

My friend kicked off on a healthy note with a large glass of green juice. I’m a bit cautious about things that look too healthy so I passed on the juice and went straight for a pot of tea. It was English breakfast, but there are plenty of others to choose from.

She loved the green juice so I had a taste and I have to say my reservations were misplaced and it was very nice. I might try it myself next time I’m there, which will be soon because I love the place.

Then she had toast and marmalade with coffee and I had the muesli. There were two big slices of wholemeal toast with butter and interesting marmalade that wasn’t over sweet.

For the muesli there were two to choose from - carrot or beetroot.  I had carrot, it was lovely and there was lots of it, served with yogurt and fruit. My only criticism was that there wasn’t quite enough yoghurt so it got a bit dry but I had some milk left over from the tea so I stirred that in.

The point of the Skittle Alley is that it serves good, unpretentious food and drinks at reasonable prices in a lovely environment.There’s a bonus if you go on Saturday, as there’s also a small, select farmers’ market offering fruit, flowers, vegetables, bread, cheese and free range eggs.

The suppliers are all independent growers and artisan bakers and cheese makers. The fruit comes from a small bio-dynamic farm. I’m not sure what that means, but I do know they sell apples that look, smell and taste like apples did when I was a kid.

Skittle Alley on Hammersmith's riverside

By the time you read this they will have been joined by Nelipot Lane, a small, independent company who make cakes and biscuits. There were free samples the day we were there and we can vouch for their deliciousness.

I have to confess that it was such a pleasant place to be that we tarried a while, had more tea and coffee, did our shopping (much nicer than going to Sainsbury’s) and the dog had to wait for his walk.

The Skittle Alley really is a welcome addition to the riverside, open as it is from early morning until lunchtime, because there’s nothing else nearby that does that.

As its popularity grows, I’d say it’s sure to become a destination for joggers, walkers, strollers, shoppers or anybody who just wants to sit and enjoy the morning and with summer coming, why not?

April 17, 2015