It's always been a good spot for my favourite pastime as it's perfectly located for people watching, where else can you do this other than on the Kings Road, the floor to ceiling windows seem to encourage it too. As you walk across the cobbled courtyard, you get the “country manor” feel, what with wicker loungers scattered around (as someone once told me, darhling it costs all those Sloane Ponies a lot of money to walk around looking like they haven't made effort). I like what they've done with the place, the inside café has also gained quite a bit of character what with a red communal table just as you walk in, trés chick, and table tops with a checkered pattern reminiscent of a French bistro.
Service has never been its strongest point but as I am greeted by an efficient looking lady with a lovely smile, who continues to tell me to take my time reading the paper as I sheepishly inform her I'm terribly early for a meeting with a friend, things are sure looking up. One of the waitresses is busy wielding a dustpan and brush like her life depended on it and proceeds to brush the floor, (surely restaurants are self cleaning?) not sure I want it done in my presence.
As it gets dark, the lights are dimmed and tall candlesticks (makes a change from commonly used small ones that adorn most restaurant tables and seem to waver at the merest hint of breath directed towards them, laugh and it's like a hurricane wind that blows them off) are lit and the atmosphere is transformed to such an extend that it creates a yearning in my heart. There are various couples in the house including a really young one who make me wonder if they are of legal age or if I'm just getting really old.
Two Sudokus, a mild and difficult one I hasten to add, and three tables later (mother and daughter beat me to table one and table two just wasn't right), my friend cancels on me but I decide to go ahead and treat myself, it is a Friday night after all. I decide to take a look at the menu to see what's on offer and I'm rather disappointment as there doesn't seem to be much on for a light supper. The breakfast menu looks good however and would be great for brunch, that is if you got there before 11:30 am, even at the weekend, whoever heard of anyone having brunch before noon, SITC must have passed them by! I finally settle on the burger as a safe option, it's Friday, only to be informed by efficient lady that it can only be served, medium well (can anyone explain to me what medium well is, Pops at the next table ponders at it too) or well done, council orders apparently. Big Brother really is watching isn't he, I wonder what he will be forbidding next, pasta al dente?
Efficient lady (she really is efficient hence the promotion from efficient looking) proceeds to recommends the gnocchi to which my reply is “I make very good gnocchi!” lol, where do I get off, but I actually do, I wanted to spare her my grumbling afterwards if it didn't turn out to my liking. We finally decide on the Club sandwich after being informed it's served on a brioche type bread and promises an aioli spread, smashing. I of course ask for a portion of chips to go with it instead of the offered crisps.
At this point, my heart does some somersaults as a jolly good looking chap walks in, he is a chap al right, zipped up black ribbed cardigan and chaffed jeans, and sits close to where I was two tables earlier, that will teach me. I have all sorts of conversation with him, all in my head of course, contrary to belief, I am a shy little thing and walking up to a man I don't know and starting conversation is stuff of my dreams, oh well maybe one day but by golly, he really is a fine specimen of a chap!
Where was I, oh yes, I had ordered a Club. As the plate is unceremoniously damped on my table my first thought is, IT'S THE WRONG SHAPE! My Club looks like a burger as it comes in a bun and as I look at it I'm also surprised the bun isn't toasted, oh well, will dig in anyway. STOP PRESS, it's cold, my Club is COLD. Excuse me but this a well established “gaffe” and I would expect my Club to be freshly made, I can excuse the shape but I'm sorry, I am not having a COLD Club, surely the least the chef could have done was toast the bun?
Efficient lady notices my puzzled look and walks over whereby I politely explain to her that I hadn't expected My Club, have become very possessive of it by now, to be cold to which she asks if I would like it heated, hah? This is going to be interesting I think, how are they going to heat it up , a frazzled lettuce and tomato later I get my answer. It was plonked in the microwave, I don't own one and hadn't come out to have my food microwaved, everyone knows that you don't place bread in the microwave as it hardens immediately it goes cold. As I battle with whatever is on my plate, trying not to make a mess on the table, Pops kept looking over and the club was served on what I'd call a side plate which was also heaped with crisps which I'd specifically turned down and had ordered fries instead, someone must have thought I had a fetish for potatoes cooked in different ways. At this point I am so miserable I just want to go home, even the sight of fine looking chap tucking into his burger doesn't cheer me up, I'm actually rather disappointed he chose the burger, no taste. I have asked for mayonnaise about three times and when it finally arrives it looks suspiciously white and stiff (home made mayonnaise has a cream hue to it and is slightly wobbly) and tastes worse, if you are going to buy mayonnaise at least buy Heinz. The ketchup is in a plastic tomato looking container, I suppose trying to be original but the plastic is so hard you can't squeeze it! The fries were so hard they reminded me of refried fries, not the same as twice fried trust me, I should know and the promised aioli remains just that, a promise.
Needles to say I didn't eat much of my meal but no one seemed bothered by the amount of food left on my plate and I don't know whether to be flattered, must think I don't eat much which judging by the types who frequent the place they must be used to or if to be offended for the same reason, I love my food and I usually eat it!
A real disappointment which is such a shame as it is a perfect location and has got a lot going for it, but not the food. I especially liked the new paper place-mats depicting the building as it was in the old days, a garage, and as I gaze out the window, I can almost see a Ford Anglia (first car I remember dad driving) but as it is the Kings Road it would most probably have been a Cadillac or Bentley, driving in to fill up and driving out the other end. The highlight of the evening was fine looking chap and my glass of Merlot which was utterly divine and came at a bargain price I thought.