The Knackerd Chef Talks to Cafe Prov

My recent appointment has forced my weekly article to become bi-weekly until I can find time to fit it in amongst my multitude of ongoing and growing commitments. Having worked in the restaurant business for almost twenty five years I tend not to do heart stopping shifts anymore, rather than spending all my time working every hour that God send I make time to appreciate my family and I try to make time for me which I believe is important, once a month I like to treat myself, call it my reward for my hard work it’s a way of relaxing and making time to reflect and recognise have I have around me and how quickly thing can change.

One of my favourite Gents' hair stylist has to be the Groom Room located in The centre of Dulwich Village I know the guys there relatively well and every time I visit them it is real treat for me I have a Turkish sauna and full cut throat shave, I always feel a million times better, Dulwich village is a little right of Herne hill but Half-moon lane is at its end and I you would like a treat then The Groom Room will not disappoint.

After my treatment at The Groom Room It’s straight down to Café Prov, like the sands of time it been there an eternity and is starting to show signs of recovery after the floods. Situated right in the very centre of Herne Hill Cafe Prov was absolutely devastated by the flood it was like the heartbeat of the town had stopped, months closed and business ruined. They like most have been stubborn and fought hammer and nail to stay in business. It’s a breath of fresh air  Adam who runs and owns the business is a lovely friendly and all round good guy, passionate, knowledgeable and completely accommodating for his customers which shows just how he understand today’s ever changing environment. Herne Hill is undergoing some of its most challenging times and as shops close for “refurbishment” and with  the closure of Just Williams fresh in our minds not to mention the constant battle between Fullers, Dulwich Estate and The Save The Half-Moon campaign.

Adam has owned Café Prov for twenty two years and he remembers when Herne Hill was a run down town. He was one of the first and still stands proud all these years later, he tells me how by  and large his revenues haven’t gone down over that time pro-rata but his costs have skyrocketed, he employs 15 staff, a mixture of full and part time, one of who has been with him for 15 years, you get the feel that he is just as passionate now than he was all those years ago.

I ask  Adam  about everything that is going on at the moment with shops and The Half-Moon pub. He says he wants change to happen in Herne Hill and he’s all in favour but it has to be thought through extremely carefully. You can’t just whack a shop up and serve breakfast cereal, charge a fiver a bowl and expect people to think that’s fine. We have to look carefully at who lives in the area and put their needs first, the area needs quality shops offering quality produce that reflects the residents and their likes and needs. He sees Herne Hill becoming great but he know that closed shops and boarded up frontages just make an already hard struggle even harder and for every day shops are closed it takes almost double that time to recover the trade.

So with shops closing for refurbishment, floods and greedy Landlords forcing shops to close it  hasn’t deterred Adam from making the very most of his venue. He says “Although we’ve been here for so long we know just how hard we have work and still work hard to keep it we’re always trying just that little harder to establish ourself”. I found it strange that he said that but he tells me just how hard the flood from the burst water main hit him and all the others in Herne Hill, it was touch and go for a long time the real fear of losing everything was a threat and a worry and essentially he’s had to start again. Two years later the place is trading and busy,. Inspired by Adams love of all things music which is something we both have in common and I later learned that he and I both lived in the same part of West Yorkshire almost twenty five years ago, I’m a big fan of music in restaurants and bars it changes the whole mood in a venue and done right it’s one of the very keys to success it either makes or break a place, Adam has the mix just right and the clientele reflect that, it’s busy and vibrant and has a very relaxed atmosphere. 

The staff are friendly and efficient and you’re not part of a cog in a big chain of restaurants so the service is spot on, the staff keep the place constantly clean which again reflects,  in the general it looks and feels welcoming and some businesses after such a long time in the same venue tend to lose that edge Adam, hasn’t and it’s well worth a visit.

As I sit down I’m greeted by what can only be described and heaven on a plate, it’s my guilty pleasure and Café Prov does it just right. The mighty Café Prov Burger, it’s honest and real food homemade mayonnaise on a handmade burger with melted Strong Monterey Jack cheese and that’s something that you can fool people with especially if you know what you are looking for and it great value for money. There’s a saying “you get what you pay for” in here you do, you pay for quality and freshly produced food. In a nutshell you get it.

Adam knows his business very well and has an agenda he’s respected by all who know him and a well-known honest businessman who engages well with the public, he know what he is doing and what he does he does very well, unlike Donald Trump.

My suggestion is get yourself straight down and say The Knackered Chef sent you.

Why not enjoy a glass of the house red you won’t be disappointed.

020 7978 9228