A war journalist’s ‘Camberwell Cookie’ crowds the café as locals overflow onto their street-side pavement.
The Camberwell Cookie first appeared in Lebanon – gooey, with hurdles of chocolate chunks, and suspiciously healthy, it was crafted by Danielle Moylan, a few years before Grove Lane Deli was even envisaged.
Originally from Australia, Danielle went on to work as a war journalist in the Middle East, covering stories in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. “I always wanted to do something more community-focused, so I decided to take a break and learn the trade [baking],” she explains.
Soon after a fleeting stint at a sourdough bakery in Beirut, Danielle moved to London with her husband and started the Grove Lane Deli (GLD) in 2021.
About a month before officially opening, Danielle and her team cheekily lured passing pedestrians in by putting up a note on the door that simply read: “Knock for a free cookie”.
Crunchy on the outside, gooey once you bite into it, and made using dark chocolate chunks, toasted pecans, desiccated coconut, and barley flour – Danielle’s cookies sold out within an hour.
Deemed one of the best cookies in the city by Eater London, these cookies can now be found on their counter as ‘Camberwell Cookie,’ which is a playful reference to the cult-classic dark comedy Withnail and I (1987) and the Camberwell Carrot.
“I make my little on-foot pilgrimage to GLD every morning, for my coffee and Camberwell Cookie. It’s nutritious, filling, and just £2 which is unheard of in London,” says Vaishnavi Singh, a local.
“It is the most affordable thing on our counter, and is quite substantial for what we charge. With the way inflation is at the moment, the price of everything is going up. But it is my intention to keep it at two pounds,” Danielle tells me as we pull up some stools to sit opposite the deli, on the pavement.
The Grove Lane Deli attracts a steady, loyal queue of customers on any given morning, and often, they’re sold out by closing time, especially on Sundays. The deli’s facade by itself is charming, nestled under a quotidian apartment and featuring rustic, original Victorian windows.
While the set-up is dinky, there are a few tables and stools placed outside for those who prefer their coffee with a book or a quick email catch-up. But the most sought-after spot is what the staff cheerfully refer to as ‘pavement best seat.’
“We can get really busy on weekends and sometimes when there aren’t enough seats, people started sitting across on the pavement. I always thought that was kind of fun. And sometimes it is the best seat, just sitting on the ground with your friend, feel the sun on your face while drinking a nice cup of coffee,” says Danielle.
Coffee and community come together at GLD, which features wine, cheese and other confectionaries by local businesses. It is dog-friendly, and even serves as a meeting spot for the Grove Lane Run Club.
“We know our customers really well, and they do all sorts of lovely things like write us cards and notes. And since we’re quite near to the hospital, we’ve had people bring their newborns in. We’ve often been the first people that they’ve told in person that hey ‘we’ve had a baby,’ which is always really sweet,” Danielle smiles, as she rolls up her sleeves, ready to attend to her next batch of Camberwell Cookies.
Grove Lane Deli can be found on Grove Lane, Camberwell.
Featured image by Janani Venkateswaran.