22 Great Chapel Street, Soho, W1 8FR, London
So, it turns out my gaydar is broken. Perhaps not beyond repair (I mean, Ricky Martin’s recent news didn’t exactly make me fall off my chair…) but it’s definitely not firing on all cylinders. As, dropping by the Star at Night, for a bite before drinks in SoHo one evening, I entirely and totally failed to realise I was in a gay bar/diner. Despite the amazing disco music belting out of the speakers, the absence of any mixed-couples dining together, the rainbow flags and the posters on the wall which said “Puts pussy in fine form” – an old advert for cat food, which I coveted badly – it all totally passed me by. I felt like a right wally when I realised later, but a liberal wally, so that’s ok.
The cafe was cosy and charming. Walls decked with retro adverts, music which was really was frigging ace and the tables were covered in kitsch gingham table-cloths which makes my heart skip a beat*. Over a glass of pink prosseco, I had a simple supper of hummus and grilled halloumi, before an honest-to-goodness tasty goats cheese salad. Nothing was fancy or exquisite but it was all tasty and decent and well-priced. For a pre-drinks and dancing dinner you need look no further.
*I think I should explain why I love gingham so. When I went trekking in the Himalayas a few years ago, I hired a guide and a couple of porters. Every day I would slog up-hill, the air thinning and my breath wheezing with every step, as the porters lugged tent and food and all manner of goods to make my trip more comfortable with springs in their steps and songs in the voices. They were all as strong as an Ox and yet slim as a rake. Every night the guys would set up camp. The chef would cook beautiful dinners – curry and dhal and fruit and tender boiled eggs – and one of the porters would set up a dining table. The table had a candle, flowers and a gingham table cloth. It was absurd! To think they carried that all around with them- but it was utterly beautiful and made me full of joy. So, yeah, I really love gingham!