Finding a decent, simple cafe in central London is surprisingly tricky (that’s cafe pronounced ‘caff’). If you’re after food that doesn’t come with a rocket salad, and isn’t a hybrid of cuisines from warmer parts of the world, it can take some hunting. There are still classic cafes where egg, bacon chips and beans form the bulk of the menu but they seem to be disappearing.
Last night the five minute post-Channel 4 News spot was apparently about the closing of the New Piccadilly on London’s Denman Street, just off the bright lights of the eponymous tourist traffic jam. I didn’t see the programme, and can’t find anything on Channel 4’s website, but this great Independent article from a year ago shows things were already coming to an end.
I’ve been to the New Piccadilly a couple of times and now, of course, wish I’d been more. I’m not sure it was the best caff food in the world but the decor, atmosphere and waiters’ uniforms more than made up for it. It was, perhaps, a little more formal than your average caff but there is joy in all their simple pleasures. Last Friday I was sitting, reading the paper, in the Friary Cafe in Bristol (a friendly place that does a good all day breakfast and tables are usually shared with strangers) and I really could have barely been happier.
The forced replacement of places like the New Piccadilly is one of the downsides of urban renewal and gentrification. I find the process fascinating, despite the fear that my favourite haunts may soon be replaced with something new, but worse. I’ll save my interest in gentrification for another time however…