It has taken me a surprisingly long time to realise that right up there with the tastiness of the food and the manner in which it is served, the atmosphere of the place where you’re eating is crucial in making that dinner special.
And for atmosphere there is nothing quite like down-and-out cafes. Rarely twee or slick, they have an honesty and charm that’s unique despite coming in array of weird and wonderful guises!
The formica tabletops, paper placemats, serviette dispensers, tomato-shaped ketchup dispensers, pinboard menus, staunch serving ladies and gents and almost always giant portions are all just mega.
Seaside towns tend to have a rash of these type of cafes along the seafront, Brixton has some incredible spots (and some have the added bonus of serving jerky chicken) and there are some awesome places just off the motorways…
-As an aside, when I lived in Essex, there was a roadside cafe that made me smile everytime I saw or thought about it. It’s name: Jason’s Doner Van. Genius –
Now, where was I… Every term when my Dad would drive me back to Uni, we’d interrupt our journey for breakfast at a Little Chef. I’d have an icecream sundae and he’d have the Olympian and read the Daily Mail as the traffic trundled by. It was bliss in the most unexpected of places!
Do you know of any amazing beaten-up-but not quite-beaten cafes? Any down-but-not-out-joints you love hanging out in? Anywhere were you can still get fish and chips or a full english for less than £3.50? With a mug of tea thrown in? If so do tell me, I need to know…