Archive for the ‘London W1 (Fitzrovia)’ Category

Sakley’s, Charlotte Street, W1

October 4, 2011

First visited: Tuesday 4th October 2011

Interior: Sakley’s used to be Squat and Gobble of warm memories (but too loud radio) and the inside is very similar. The overall impression is still of wood and the layout is exacty the same. However, some of S&G’s home-made charm has been lost as they’ve replaced the rickety tables and chairs with furniture of the Cafe Nero variety. The welcome was friendly but a bit more polished than under the old management and as such, I’m afraid, came across as a little insincere. When the good-looking young man came over and said ‘can I get you another tea?’, I didn’t think ‘How kind’, I thought ‘Another £1.25 for a half-filled heat-proof glass of twinings english breakfast?… I don’t think so!’. But I did say ‘No thank you’ because, after all, he’s only trying to make a living.

Food: Although there’s a very, very tempting list of breakfast and sarnie options at Sakley’s – something Squat and Gobble themselves did particularly well, albeit with ridiculously fat-cut bread – I had porridge. It was lovely: just the right size portion to be filling but not overwhelming, not too thin or too thick (said Goldilocks) and free toppings including honey, sunflower seeds and toasted hazelnuts (they also do banana, date and sultanas). However, at £4.75 this is going to be a rare treat and does seem a little steep when we’re talking about oats, water and milk (and, I know, premises, salaries etc but I’m sure it wasn’t that expensive at S&G).  So I’d say, good food, but probably slightly out of the usual caff price range, and the interior a little slick for my liking.


Cafe Rio, Grafton Way, Fitzrovia

December 17, 2010

Last visited 7th December 2010

Interior: I have a bit of a soft spot for Cafe Rio because I lived across the road from it when it opened and it just made it into my year of attempting to eat at all the caffs in Fitzrovia. As is the way with caffs, many of its neighbours have closed. It’s still a pleasant place to be in as an obvious effort has been made with the interior, but there’s part of me that doesn’t really feel it’s a caff. Perhaps it’s the details, such as the peep-through tabletops showing glass vitrines filled with, um, pasta. Or perhaps it’s the welcome, which is friendly but on my visit was really not impressed that I wanted a menu rather than just a coffee. I’m sure it would have been different at lunchtime, and perhaps it’s their small Brazilian menu which is the real attraction.

Food: My mushroom and tomato on toast weren’t particularly nice, but they weren’t the worst I’ve ever had either. Needless to say the bread was the usual soggy pap, but you can say the same about most caffs. On the other hand, my order was off-menu and it was nice of them to make it. I may return, because actually there aren’t that many independent cafes open at this end of Tottenham Court Road, but the food will never be a priority. Unless I want to come back for a Brazilian. Dish, that is.

Cafe Meze, Great Portland Street Station

October 31, 2009

Visited Saturday 31st October 2009

Interior: Cafe Meze has an old-new feel – like it’s been done up recently, but from someone who discovered that tasteful plants and lots of light worked in 1976 so lets keep doing it like that. Not unpleasant at all, although sometimes it feels a bit more like a garfunkels than a caff. The welcome was so-so- one of the waiters was either deaf or didn’t really speak English or my accent is impenetrable. Another one looked right down my top when I ordered.

Food: I had a veggie breakfast number one, that is mushrooms, beans and tomatoes, because it had two toast with it, but with an extra fried egg. Luckily I like my eggs runny, but worth remembering to specify well done if that’s how you like it. It was all okay, but I thought overpriced for £4.95 (with the extra egg, tea, coffee and tip, it came to a tenner). The tea was the biggest disappointment. If that cup was a large tea, heaven only knows how tiny the small tea was. They did leave the teabag in, but otherwise it was like being in continental europe. The decaff coffee was much nicer.

All in all, I wouldn’t go back, although it’s well-located and open on a Saturday. I’d probably have gone further into Fitzrovia in my hunt for egg on toast, but was deeply disappointed that Regent’s Park’s Honest Sausage only does roll-and (sausage or bacon) and no full breakfasts, so my hunger needed speedy resolution.

Marino’s Restaurant, Rathbone Place, W1

January 17, 2009

***Cafe closed as of October 2008***

Visited: Saturday 17th January 2008

Interior: Classic Italian caff with restaurant aspirations (although this one’s not open in the evening). Checkerboard floor, wooden tables and chairs – strangely austere walls, but a good sandwich bar counter. A spacious back area with an impressive number of wooden tables means it shouldn’t be too hard to get a seat.

Food: The menu has a full range of pasta and pizza options as well as breakfasts and sandwiches. I made rather a poor choice with ‘Spaghetti vegetables’ – it was literally spaghetti in a rather liquidy tomato sauce plus all the veg that had accompanied the hot meals the day before: soggy carrot, cabbage and cauliflower. But the spaghetti was nice and firm and the portion size huge, so my guess is that the tradtional napoli, vongole, carbonara etc options are superior. Tea was in a mug and a trifle milky, but they left the teabag in which did much to mitigate the effect.

Little Portland Cafe, Little Portland St, W1

November 1, 2008

Visited 1st November 2008, Last visited Saturday 5th March 2010


Not impressed at all on my return visit. Why, when eggs, bacon, sausage and beans with toast and a drink is £3.50, should egg (singular), beans, half a grilled tomato and a spoonful of beans be £3.80 *without drink or toast*!!!!? And the tea was too milky – I had to get a second mug and ask them to leave the teabag in and it still wasn’t very nice. As the young folk would say *FAIL*.

Interior: I vaguely remember the old LPC which had a certain classic windowless fluorescent dingy charm, but I think I prefer it now: lots of blonde wood tables and chairs, but retaining the sandwich bar counter and there’s enough in the way of condiments and bustle to prevent it feeling like Ikea. The menu is on a blackboard (or rather two – one over the counter for takeaway, one up on the kitchen wall for sit-in) and the brisk but welcoming waitress made the ordering process clear. The changes, mourned or not, seem to be working. There was a healthy number of customers (young and old) on a Saturday lunchtime in an area where most caffs are closed at the weekend.

Food: I had a jacket potato with beans and cheese that was about standard for the genre: ie filling was okay but skin leathery and musty-tasting. It was absolutely huge though and pretty good value at less than 4 quid. The potato didn’t come out the microwave – they have a few sitting on the hotplate so I’m not quite sure why it wasn’t very nice. Tea was in an undersized mug but lovely and I also had a nice decaff coffee. A small breakfast eaten by another customer looked very tasty indeed and – a bonus – they use free range eggs, so a wiser order may produce different results next time.

Bay Leaf Cafe, Tottenham Street, W1

September 5, 2008

Visited: Friday 5th September 2008

Interior: Standard, modern, stripped down white walls and black furniture, but quite calming and pleasant for that. I’m impressed that they managed to create some very comfortable seating space out of what is basically a counter-serving caff. And menu is impeccably traditional – breafkasts, jackets, sandwiches and hot baked dishes.

Food: I had a manageable full English for a reasonable (for these days) 4.50, including decent bread and really excellent earl grey tea (in a pot). The egg was free range, the bacon was lean (and smoked) and the sausage delicious. My one cavil would be the egg, which was cooked with an immaculately shiny white and runny yolk, with no frizzled edges or crispy bits. It made it feel a bit like an egg on a hotel buffet bar.

Sandwicheria, Goodge Street

June 25, 2008

Traditonal and pleasant sandwich bar, food nothing special

Last visited:  Saturday 29th November 2008

Interior: Pleasant wooden interior lit by natural light. A nice place to relax.

Food: Nothing special – I had my standard mozza and roasted veg toasted and the filling was still cold. Tea was fine but in a cup not a mug. When will they learn? No decaff coffee either.

Peruginos, Tottenham Street

January 31, 2007

Visited: Monday 15th January 2007, last visited Monday 18th August 2008

Grumpy service never detracts from the cosy leatherette appeal of this place. Can get a bit smoky, but that won’t be a problem soon. A nice mixed clientele.

Interior: Really cosy red leatherette booths, including seating for one.

Food: I had a toasted roast veg and mozzarella sandwich, which they did in a granary bap for me. Very generous filling. Tea in an oversized cup rather than a mug, which was a shame. Otherwise I would recommend the mushrooms, the best I’ve had in a caff anywhere.


Some of the sandwich fillings are a little, um, unusual. An advertised ‘spinach, mozzarella and sun dried tomato” sounded ideal for a toasted granary bap but was actually loaded with salad cream and the mozza had the non-melty consistency of industrial rubber.

Squat and Gobble, Charlotte Street

January 31, 2007

*Closed as of October 2011*

Update 23rd May 2007 – read the comment for more

An old favourite, providing home-made food for Fitzrovians since the last century. Radio is a bit loud and they stop serving breakfast at 11am. Still, they are very friendly and I’ve never left there feeling short-changed. Clientele can be a bit advertisingy.

Interior: Pleasant gastropub – old wooden tables and chairs.

Food: I had roast veg and mozzarella toasted on granary (which they happily provided me with on request rather than Focaccia) and a lovely big mug of earl grey. Sandwich came with tons of salad (Of the 1970s variety – included grated beetroot and a couple of sultanas – but much nicer than that kind of thing was in the 70s) and the filling had olives and lots of herbs in it. Other highlights are the giant bowls of porridge, the home-made smoothie and the sausage sandwiches (veg and meat). Be warned, bread is always cut very thick.