Shepherds Bush is home to many treasures, preserving its love of independents regardless of the commercial spell of the forever-expanding Westfield Shopping Centre in White City. Adjoining the two main hubs of Goldhawk Road and Uxbridge Road lies the charming Askew Road, a discreet high-street with a village feel and friendly locals to match. Granted, there are high street supermarkets and the unfortunate addition of a Costa Coffee, but the road is better known for its boutique shops and independent gems.
With Leith’s Cookery School around the corner, it’s no surprise that Askew Road is filled with foodie hotspots. Laveli Bakery is my go-to for a cuppa, catch-up and plenty of rustic bread to go. The Ginger Pig doubles up as a butchers and deli, supporting local businesses along the way – several of the cafés source their meat from the upmarket branch. Sufi is a Persian paradise while the family-run Som Tam is rightfully renowned for its authentic Thai cuisine. A pint of Pimms is best enjoyed slouched in a deckchair at The Eagle’s famous pub garden during the summer months. When it comes to shopping, break up your food tour of Askew with a trip to gift emporiums J W Beeton and Cocktail.
It’s taken me far too long to pay a visit to Detour Café, a cosy Kiwi brunch spot and favourite amongst Askew locals. On a typical British day – where floods of rain periodically switch to sunshine – we traded a Sunday Roast for a long overdue brunch at Detour. We were impressed from the get-go – after all, we were sat next to a fluffy golden retriever, confirming that we could bring our own canine companion on a future trip. While the décor is rather basic, it’s a nice change from the ostentatious Instagram-conscious cafés. Interiors are subtle, making diners focus on the spread of enticing cakes and fresh sandwiches on display rather than the furnishings. The wallpaper depicting a retro camper van and spotless beach is a nice homage to the café’s heritage while also whisking you off to the brighter (and presumably Kiwi) destination.
The brunch menu is no small feat, with smoothie bowls, every style of eggs and the ubiquitous avocado toast. The Detour favourites are the most tempting, with a signature take on corn fritters, French toast and Jalapeño cornbread. After a bad experience with tasteless corn fritters at a nameless much pricier location, I ordered the delicious smoked salmon & avocado sourdough with a poached egg. Presented on stylish charcoal speckled plates, the silky salmon, perfectly ripe avocados and sublime artisan sourdough made for a perfect dish. The addition of cream cheese was another unexpected layer of delight.
My sister chose the weekend-only spiced shakshuka with za’atar, added chorizo and endless slices of sourdough drizzled with olive oil. While I would have preferred the chorizo incorporated into the one-pan dish, she had no qualms about the side bowl of smoked sausage. Be prepared to wait for the shakshuka but this is a price worth paying for freshly cooked dishes – the staff forewarn you on the menu. In the meantime, order their large freshly squeezed juices. If you’re feeling particularly rough after a Saturday night, dose up on a bounty of vitamins with the green juice, made up of apple, celery, spinach, ginger and lime.
We have since returned to Detour for more sourdough, this time the veggie-friendly poached eggs with beetroot houmous, avocado and feta, a colourful addition to the menu. The reasonably priced smashed avocado with two poached eggs is also very satisfying, with a generous sprinkling of chilli flakes.
Detour Café fits right in to Askew Village, supporting the community by sourcing produce from London independents, notably its neighbour The Ginger Pig and The Kettle Shed teas down the road in Chiswick. Next time you’re in SheBu, make a detour and head straight for antipodean fare at this independent spot.