Let me introduce you all to quite possibly my favourite cafe of all time: Cafe Van Gogh in London.
Cafe Van Gogh is a social enterprise vegan restaurant in South London named after the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh who lived in the area in the 1870s.
After twenty years of working in housing for marginalised and socially disadvantaged groups, Cafe Van Gogh founder Steve Clarke created the cafe with the ambition to serve more than just delicious, affordable and ethically-sourced food.
Cafe Van Gogh, which is partnered with Christ Church Brixton Road, works within a charity network that provides community events and delivers on-the-job training.
This includes confidence-building and career development for its kitchen staff, many of which have learning disabilities and mental health problems.
On the day I visited I selected a nourishing broth Japanese inspired soup recipe with chunky wholesome vegetables and a comforting miso mushroom broth. Served with a warm slice of bread it made for a perfect light lunch for just £4.
When you visit, you can also expect to find plant-based burgers, mac n cheese, alongside a variety of cakes and warming beverages.
Their Christmas menu also looks simply wonderful and I would so highly that you book and head along if you can!
With a good book, my notebook and some truly delightful food in my midst, I felt so at home in this special spot that contributes to so much social good whilst revering one of the most influential artists of all time.
As you head upstairs in Cafe Van Gogh your eyes are immediately mesmerised by a stunning re-creation of Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night Sky’ across the ceiling.
Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night Sky’ is one of the most recognised pieces of art in the world. This seminal work for the Dutch artist was painted in 1889 during his stay at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
During his stay here, Van Gogh lived well in the hospital and had more freedom than any of the other patients. As a result, Van Gogh was allowed to paint, read, and withdraw into his own room and was even given a studio of his own.
It was during this time that there was a tonal shift in Van Gogh’s work. He returned to incorporating the darker colours from the beginning of his career and ‘Starry Night’ is a wonderful example of that shift.
It truly is a magnificent piece of art, and to have it replicated in a cafe in Brixton is so special. The fact ‘Starry Night’ resonates with so many people is a testament to how its subject matter, beauty and relevance is truly so timeless and universal.
Van Gogh Walk London
I have a wonderful home, and it’s a great pleasure for me to observe London and the English way of lifeVincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother Theo
If, like me, you are a huge fan of Vincent Van Gogh, how about visiting his London lodgings just a short walk away from Cafe Van Gogh?
Vincent Van Gogh arrived in London in 1873 when he was 20 years old to work for an art dealer in Covent Garden.
Van Gogh stayed in London for three years, with intervals away in Paris and lived at 87 Hackford Road in Stockwell.
Sadly, over the years this residence has been left in a rather sad state of disrepair, however thankfully, after a year-long restoration, the Grade II listed former residence of Vincent van Gogh has re-opened its doors as a centre for young artists and writers.
In addition, the school across the road from Van Gogh’s former home has been renamed the ‘Van Gogh School’, and there’s even a ‘Van Gogh Walk’, through a cul-de-sac that’s become a garden.
In a letter to his brother Theo Vincent Van Gogh wrote:
I walk here as much as I can, it’s absolutely beautiful, even though it’s in the city….there are lilies, hawthorns and laburnums blossoming in all the gardens, and the chestnut trees are magnificent.
Vincent Van Gogh’s time living in Victorian London was full of love, disappointment, poetry, and art and ultimately inspirations that all shaped the painter that he became.
This formative period in his life is dramatised in the play ‘Vincent in Brixton’ written by Nicholas Wright in 2002.
Van Gogh Walk, just opposite his old home in 87 Hackford Road, is a reincarnation of Isabel Street and is a special outside space in an area of London where many people do not have their own garden.
If one truly loves nature one finds beauty everywhere.Vincent Van Gogh
This would have been deeply poignant to Van Gogh who deeply revered nature. Thus the landscaping of Van Gogh walk celebrates how much he enjoyed walking, gardens and nature as a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The planting and features found in Van Gogh Walk are inspired by Van Gogh’s paintings, and quotes from the letters he wrote when he lived here are carved around the edges of the planters.
The inspiration Van Gogh found through his time in journey is so profound and has been the feature of many exhibitions recently. A visit to Cafe Van Gogh, Van Gogh’s home and Van Gogh’s Walk is a special way to connect with this iconic artist.
Without a shadow of doubt it will be hard for me to connect with a cafe like I have with this wonderful spot. I couldn’t recommend a visit more.
How many of you have made it to Cafe Van Gogh? And how many of you love the art of Van Gogh as much as me? If art history is something of interest to you, I’d be thrilled to see you over at Painting Music! For more information head right here.
If you enjoyed this post I have a whole Eateries tab on my blog full of gorgeous cafes and restaurants I find that serve up a huge portion of whimsy! From Paris to Amsterdam to London; your next whimsy cafe spot is a click away!
Address: Cafe Van Gogh, 88 Brixton Road, London , SW9 6BE
Telephone: 07546 966554
Opening times: (Monday – CLOSED) Tuesday- Friday 12:00-4.30pm/5pm- 9pm (last orders by 9pm) Saturday 10:00am 4.30pm/5pm 9pm Sunday 12pm – 4pm