Archive for the ‘Leatherette’ Category

Porky’s Pantry, Chandos Place, Covent Garden

February 18, 2009

Visited 17th February 2009

Interior: Green leatherette chairs in unusually good condition, projecting tables and a classic sandwich counter make this a classic caff in every respect. Be warned the deep fat fryer smell is particularly prevalent in this caff. Like many caffs based in old houses, going to the loo can be an adventure. Everything is spotless though.

Food: I had mushooms on granary toast and a tea and it was very nice indeed – mushrooms were fresh and sliced fine. Porky’s sandwich menu doesn’t seem to encompass roasted veg or sun dried tomato – expect spam, wiener schnitzel and coronation chicken instead. The full range of breakfasts is served all day.


Pontis Polo Bar, Bishopsgate, Liverpool St

February 16, 2009

Visited: Sunday 8th February 2009

Interior: All Pontis ‘restaurants’ have a comforting feel of the 1970s about them. This one is a bit different – unreconstructed leatherette, tiled and fluorescent lit caffdom at its best. No natural light and a strong smell of deep fat frying means that the Polo bar feels nicely unironic and unselfaware. You order at the counter and sit in a cosy, if battered, booth.

Food: No granary bread here! I had 2 slices of ‘plastic’ whit e toast with mushrooms (probably tinned but perfectly edible) and a nice orange tea. My companion had the same with beans and black coffee and said ‘it was lovely’.

Valtaro Snack Bar, Marchmont Street, WC1

September 24, 2008

First Visited: Monday 22nd September 2008, last visited: Saturday 2nd January 2010

Interior: Pared down classic of the formica/leatherette variety – no tables, but literally a bar hugging the walls with stools, but comfortable for all that. There was certainly enough width on the bar to take journal articles and notebooks as well as a plate of food and mug of tea. You order at the counter, paying beforehand, and the welcome was particularly friendly.

Food: Valtaro offer a surprisingly large choice for such a tiny place – perhaps because there is a generous space given to the kitchen. Tempted by the breakfasts (especially as it was 11.30), I opted instead for the vegetarian pasta which was absolutely delicious. The fact that it took more than five minutes and the pasta was amazingly non-soggy makes me wonder if they made it freshly. The mug of tea which arrived instantly was lovely. Everything was very cheap indeed.

Update: Today I had a veggie breakfast of a high quality – really lovely fried bubble, lots of beans and good grilled tomatoes. The mushrooms were tinned and not great, but tasty enough mixed in with the beans. Good value at £3.20 – toast and tea are extra but, to be honest, toast was completely unnecessary and at 50p per mug, tea is a bargain. I had two mugs.

Update for 2010: Another great breakfast, and my companion recommended the bacon, although he did consider that the meat content of the sausage probably qualified it as a vegetarian one.

Royal Cafe, Royal College Street, London NW1

August 8, 2008

Visited Sunday 28th June 2009

Friendly, brightly-coloured traditional caff

Interior: A classic of the 1970s – tiled floor, bright red leatherette seats, order at the counter, only thing missing was the clouds of cigarette smoke. Friendly welcome.

Food: Good quality classic fare – I had the veg breakfast, which was enormous, fresh and tasty – tomatoes were fresh and the hash browns didn’t have that ‘sitting around in old fat’ taste they sometimes get. Requisite saturated-out feeling followed. Tea was in a mug and I had two of them.

The Conduit Coffee House, Lamb’s Conduit Street

May 3, 2007

Visited: Wednesday 2nd May 2007, Last visited: 10th June 2008


I won’t be visiting this caff again. In the absence of the usual manageress, the attitude of staff was rude, money grubbing and thoroughly unpleasant. I ordered a special breakfast, priced at 4.95 but asked for sausages to be replaced by tomato. The waitress accepted my order, but when I went to pay totted up each individual item I’d had and it came to 6.75. When I queried it, she – with the prompting of a silent older man behind the counter – said that any substitutions meant the meal had to be paid for in full. I was so speechless that it didn’t occur to me to piont out that the special breakfast with a side order of tomato was cheaper. I accept that caffs have the right to run discounts which are void if substitutions are made, but the waitress should have pointed this out when I ordered. And it’s a right, but a crap attitude nonetheless.

Here, for historical purposes, is the original posting:

Friendly and welcoming traditional caff.

Interior: Nice comforting leatherette booths, big tables for sharing. Cosy, if something of a squeeze. Very nicely situated on Lamb’s conduit St.

Food: Not brilliant – I had two slices of wholemeal toast (they’d just run out of  granary) which were amazingly big, but not the freshest (or maybe they needed another session in the toaster). The fried egg, while a nice consistency, didn’t really taste of anything. The mushrooms were whole rather than sliced and I suspect from a tin. They were fried firmly on the outside but gushed hot water once cut into. However, the decaff coffee was lovely and the meal was satisfying enough, especially since I’d had lunch 3 hours before. Recommended for the welcome despite the food.

Silva’s, Shaftesbury Avenue

February 28, 2007

First visited: Wednesday 21st February 2007 , last visited Friday 13th June 2008

I really liked this one! Really friendly, comfy and open past 6pm. A great pre-cinema stop.

Interior: Comfy (if slightly cramped) leatherette booths plus a few additional tables. You would definitely end up sharing booths at busy times.

Food: A bit confusing as there wasn’t a menu on the only free table, so I presumed Silva’s was following the ‘menu on blackboard, order at counter’ etiquette and when I was told to order at the table had to improvise as I didn’t have a menu to choose from. However, after I ate my tuna and veg toasted baguette (which was jolly nice) I read the menu which looked very attractive. A nice touch: normally asking for a granary anything after 1pm leads to snorts of derision in your average caff, because of course it’s far too late for any to be left. The lovely manageress was delighted when she found the last granary baguette for me and it was after 6 as well. Decaff coffee came in a cup, but this was a good thing as I was about to go to the cinema.

Double Six Cafe, Eversholt St

February 18, 2007

Last visited Saturday 18th June 2010

Interior: Surprisingly spacious, the cosy green leatherette booths stretch back into a back room with natural lighting. There is a certain grimy atmosphere about the cafe – I hasten to add nothing to do with their impeccable hygiene standards – that gives it a feel of having been there for years.

Food: I had delicious toast, egg, tomato, bacon and mushrooms with a mug of tea for £3.70 which they were happy to serve me although breakfasts were officially no longer being served. In fact nothing was too much trouble for the surprisingly young staff here – they found a cardboard box to help one customer carry her four takeaway drinks, and were happy to substitute new potatoes for chips for a health-conscious diner. All of which is much to recommend before I even mention the choice of main meals – stews, roasts and chops with 2 veg for £4-5 and the portions looked huge – even steak with 2 veg was only 6.30.

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.