Archive for the ‘London SW1 (Westminster)’ Category

Pronto a Mangia, Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria

April 26, 2011

First visited: 24/4/2011

Interior:  Pronto is divided into two: a standard sandwich bar in one half, a caff with waitress service in the other. They’re both absolutely standard in an Italian caff kind of way – the odd plant and floor tiles making up for the absence of any period detail. It’s not the kind of place you’d get pictures on the menus. The waitress was very friendly.

Food: I had a very nice pasta all amatriciana, although I had to double check there was any bacon in it at first. The spaghetti could have been a little more al dente, but this is a caff after all. It wasn’t cheap, but then this is the heart of touristland and I could have had a jacket potato or sandwich for somewhat less. And quite frankly, just finding somewhere serving hot food at 4pm on the Saturday of the easter weekend near Victoria seemed like a bit of a bonus to me.


Metro Cafe, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Victoria

October 15, 2009

Visited: Sunday 11th October 2009

S0metimes a place is welcome just because it’s there. On a Sunday morning at 10am, there’s really not much available in this part of London. However, the Metro is open and serving tea and coffee and abbreviated breakfasts…

Interior: Nothing much to remark in this standard sandwich counter caff. Menu above the counter. The welcome was a  little perfunctory.

Food: One of the most restricted menus I’ve seen – no mushrooms, no tomatoes – but that’s what you get from open all hours! We had baked beans on toast with a fried egg and it was fine. Actually the beans weren’t that sweet and were quite firm, so I wonder if they came from a special catering pack which is actually healthier than Heinz! My tea was massively over-milked and coffee was white without being asked. We didn’t specify either, so I was happy to pay for another one, but they didn’t thank me when I checked that checked that both coffees were included in the price.

Overall, better than nothing in a situation where nothing is all too common!

Regency Cafe, Regency Street, Westminster

April 25, 2009

Visited: Wednesday 15th April 2009

Interior: The Regency’s much-filmed interior lives up to its tiled and formica-tabled promise. But it’s the brusque but friendly welcome I think that really makes it stand out. Here, you queue, order then sit (I don’t think it’s done to send your mate to grab a table). In record time the amazingly vocally-talented manageress, who spoke to you in polite, normally-pitched tones, will bellow your order in a deep contralto and you collect it. Magnificent.

Food: I had vegetarian pasta and salad which was jolly nice indeed. My friend had mushroom omelette and chips and similarly enjoyed it. I nicked several of the chips and they were superb – apparently home made, crispy outside, potatoey in the middle.

I sort of feel that the Regency doesn’t need me. It’s starred on the screen with Daniel Craig and frankly, if you don’t get there before 12 on a weekday, you won’t get a seat. But it does live up to expectations.

Astral Cafe, Horseferry Rd, Westminster

January 9, 2009

Visited 9th January 2009

(the nearby Regency was my original aim but was full.)


Pleasant simple tiled interior with nice black and white wooden tables and comfortable seats. A nice sign outside too. The only problem – and it’s not an insignificant one – is the lack of ventilation meaning that smell of deep fat frying is strong and remained attached to my hair and clothes in a way I had forgotten was possible since the smoking ban. The welcome was pleasant although the service far from smiley and gracious.

Food: I had a jacket with cheese and beans which was great;  even though it had been microwaved, the skin was pleasant to eat. I did notice that some other diners were given ‘caff salad’ with theirs. I didn’t really mind not having it, but I’m not quite sure why I didn’t get it. Tea was in a mug and a bright orange liquid of great substance.

Bad Cafe: Churchills, Whitehall

January 7, 2008

Visited: Thursday 3rd January 2007

Poor quality tourist rip-off in Westminster

Interior:  Jolly and traditional upstairs, I was shown to a depressing downstairs area which felt like a toilet corridor even though this was in fact separate.

Food: Very basic poor-quality white so-called ciabatta roll, barely toasted with tasteless mozzarella and cold tomato. A ‘large’ tea was a slightly bigger than normal cup.

The special condemnation I hold for this establishment is its terrible value for money and dreadful service.

My undistinguished sandwich and tea came to 7 pounds twenty – 2.10 of which was for the tea – the same money would buy a large one in an upmarket coffee chain, never mind another caff paying similar rents and business rates in Westminster. To add to the insult, the bill included an additional 75p for service.

This I asked them to take off, as the service was very disappointing. When I arrived, the male staff behind the counter were very friendly and told me that, as there was only one large table left upstairs, I would be looked after downstairs. There the female staff were brusque, unfriendly, showed me to a table in front of the staff room door (although there were many tables when I arrived) and could not wait for me to finish, first asking me if I wanted an espresso, then bringing the bill, then simply standing there as I put my coat on (the table had been cleared as soon as I put my empty cup down), although there were free tables left. When I explained at the till why I wanted the service removed, the (male) staff member muttered something about a ‘large party’ as if large parties of tourists were something to which this particular cafe was not accustomed.