Social Affair, a new coffee shop & restaurant, has just opened on Lavender Hill

4 mins read
Social Affair interior - Credit:

Hot on the heels of Phresh Juice and Pique, another brand new coffee shop and restaurant has just opened at the eastern end of Lavender Hill. Social Affair has just taken over the old premises of Room 43, which for several years had run as a very popular bar and live music venue, but whose owner decided it was time to move on. The front of house is offering proper quality coffee (which we can vouch for), and a range of pastries and snacks including croissants and rather good dougnuts.

Social Affair bar- Credit:

But that’s not all, as 43 Lavender Hill is an unusually large venue and the back of the premises includes a full scale commercial kitchen (which has had a complete refit in the last few weeks) to become home to five different food offerings. These are LovePinsa (described as ‘a cloud-like Pizza’ that has crispy textures on the outside and a super soft and scrumptious inside), Return of the Mac (specialising in Mac & Cheese for grown ups), Organic Butcher (steak & fries), NeoPixa (Neapolitan Pizza), and Wingers (fried chicken & wings). The back of house is a separate business, trading via Deliveroo – but running in a close partnership with Social Affair coffee shop so that they can offer table service in the front of house, as well as an in-person-takeaway offer. Our photo below shows what you can expect from the food menu – available daily from midday.

Social Affair Menu – Credit:

It’s the softest of soft launches – what we’re seeing here is the very start of a business! Social Affair are currently running with the decoration of the old Room 43, whose owner helpfully ran an organised closure process and left the place in a good clean and tidy condition – but this will all change in the near future with the place redecorated to have more of a daytime feel.

Plenty of tables and chairs are already in place to get things going, but in the near future we can expect to see more of a mix of seating including sofas, and there should be WiFi, a bit of music, and all the things you’d expect in a neighbourhood coffee shop. It’s such a soft launch that there’s not actually a sign up on the outside either yet (the rain and cold weather delayed work to repaint the exterior), but that should be up in the next few days. The outside terrace will also be refurbished in time for the spring.

Social Affair Street view – Credit:

We’ve seen a huge growth in the number of coffee shops on & near Lavender Hill over the last few years: Social Affair‘s launch comes hot on the heels of Phresh Juice and Pique (which opened just a few days ago), and we also have Sendero (who started here and have gone on to open four more branches), Sweet Smile (with a proper bakery and Portuguese pastries), Baguette Deli (with a strong line in French foods), Il Molino (with an Italian angle and a strong line in cakes), Social Pantry (modern brunch and smart coffee), Maiella Worth (Italian coffee and grilled arrosticini in the evenings), BAC’s in house cafe bar (stylish spot in our flagship building), Remedy Kitchen (food and coffee with a healthy angle), Cafe Parisienne (the one who started it all, with a comprehensive all day breakfast offer), 2 Love Tea and Coffee House (small but busy coffee near the station), and Jack’s at the Junction (with a light lunch menu). And we’ve probably missed a few. This reflects a similar trend across London more widely of fewer shops, and more places for food and drink.

Social Affair Menu – Credit:

Why so many cafes? Maybe it was the move to working from home that did it, with lots of relatively well paid but bored work-from-home employees who would previously have been in city centre offices, who are now stuck in London flats, looking for somewhere to go for a break or a change of scene during the day. We also have a growinglocal population that may have helped – with ever more developments fitting in to small remaining spaces, and plenty of surprisingly busy workplaces adding to daytime demand. The growth of food delivery services – the Deliveroos and Uber Eats – has also created a new market for those wanting interesting food and drink delivered to their door, adding another stream of trade to a lot of cafes that would not have previously thought of themselves as delivery businesses (even if the fees charged can be pretty sizeable). A lot of Londoners have clearly also got used to a higher standard of coffee, the sort that needs fresh beans and an expensive machine – and businesses have raised their game accordingly.

Now that Lavender Hill has over a dozen Cafes among the 150-or-so commercial premises along its length, you might think there wasn’t the demand for another… but every time another arrives it seems to find its market – and Social Affair’s large open space, friendly service, high quality coffee (always an important factor!) and unusually wide hot food offer mean it looks set for success. As the premises develops it’s likely to be come one of the most attractive spaces on the street, including lots of room for meeting and working, inside and on the terrace – and we may yet see some return of the live music that the venue used to be well known for. Do visit – the team (who already run existing coffee shops in north and east London) is keen to meet their new neighbours, and it’s a chance to support the business in its earliest days.

Social Affair, 43 Lavender Hill, London SW11 5QW.Open daily. (menu) (IG).

Social Affair exterior- Credit:

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