Above: sweet potato and apricot cake with lemony cream cheese frosting.
I am heartbroken: Boyca da Roca, my absolute favourite cafe haunt in Crystal Palace, closed its doors for good today. Mark, the owner, had to admit defeat in a difficult climate – he told me that since he opened two years ago on Church Road, 11 cafes had subsequently opened in the surrounding area and that trade had dramatically plummeted in the last few months. Brexit was the final nail in the coffin, he said. It seemed especially harsh that today, on Boyce da Roca’s final day of trading, the weather was amazing and people had flocked to the cafe in great numbers to say their goodbyes.
So many people rated this place highly – and they were right to. It served the best brunches, cakes and drinks in the Crystal Palace triangle by miles. Its charms were many, from the warm welcome of the staff to the eclectic and mismatched vintage furniture and crockery. Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Brel often played on the stereo. There were milk jugs in the shape of cows. A supplier to Ottolenghi baked the cakes; the bread used was the nicest sourdough I have ever tasted, and the coffee was always, always so very good. I never had a duff dish, or a bad moment. For me, the place has been a true sanctuary – it rescued me during the occasional bleak moments of my second maternity leave, and whenever I got a chance to sneak away for a break on my own, Boyce da Roca was always my first choice. Nothing will rival the toasted sandwiches or salads of this place; these guys really knew about good ingredients and how to cook them well. There is a second branch of the cafe in Streatham, but that’s little comfort to me at the moment. Goddamnit, I’m gonna miss you!
The legendary chocolate and Guinness cake:
The statuesque brunch toastie stuffed with sausages, bacon and caramelised onion:
The Reuben toasted sandwich: gammon, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and gherkins – EPIC:
My son earlier this year, covering himself in Green Smoothie:
I once ate a bowl of their tomato and ras el hanout soup and went into a trance. I still think about that soup to this day. (Mark, if you’re reading this, please can you tweet me the recipe?)
They always did a delicious avocado on toast:
Every drink you’d order here was so pretty:
I loved the bohemian vibe – such an antidote to the blandness of Cafe Nero et al:
Super amazing brunches:
Happy days at the cafe: