Rustique, Tufnell Park
142 Fortess Road
020 7692 559
by Blake Pudding
Weary of the £3.50 full English joints of Kentish Town, I headed towards Tufnell Park, to a café called Rustique. I was accompanied by publicist extraordinaire Nicolette Praca. Nicci has worked with the great Jeffrey Steingarten, so she knows a thing or two about food.
I should have been wary of this place billing itself as a 'literary cafe'. The whole place so reeked of pretension, right down to the Edith Piaf on the stereo, it would not have seemed out of place in Greenwich Village. I ordered pancakes with maple syrup and a cafe latté. The pancakes were obviously microwaved from frozen and were accompanied by aerosol cream. Nicci ordered the continental breakfast, which consisted of two small croissants, a tiny amount of jam, portion-controlled butter and three pieces of cheese. The croissants, by the way, were excellent - mainly, I imagine, because the staff had had nothing to do with them.
I hated this place. I hated the smug assumption behind it that because of the faux-bohemian atmosphere and the fact that some of the clientele look a bit like Salman Rushdie that they can get away with atrocious, over-priced food and gormless service. What I hated about it the most was that most of customers seemed content with it. If they noticed how they were being ripped-off then they did not seem to mind. We are often told that this country has undergone a culinary revolution in the last twenty years. The existence of Rustique suggests otherwise.