The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bar Italia, Soho

Bar Italia
22 Frith St
020 7437 4520

by Gracie Spoon

Etched into Soho lore, Bar Italia is a teeny-tiny Italian frenzy, a shoebox of a cafe in which ham and soft toys hang from the ceiling and coffee is served 24 hours a day. It seems fitting that the clock at the entrance shows the wrong time because once that point is passed, a different pace of world begins.

At 8.30am on a Wednesday morning, these were the Bar Italia sounds:

• The synthetic wolf whistles and boinks of a persistent fruit machine.
• The conspiratorial hum of cabbies in leather jackets.
• Breakfast news barked out from a wall of television.
• The ‘NA na!’ bits from ‘You’re Just Too Good To Be True’. As performed by two black-tied waiters.

At 8.30am on a Wednesday morning, these were the Bar Italia people:

• Four Fire Brigade burlies dining al fresco.
• Two female geriatrics whose tracksuits, sunglasses and heavy pink lipstick scream ‘American!’.
• A man with terrible determination, mainlining aforementioned fruit machine.
• The cabbies, the plumbers, the suits, the tourists and the out-of-synch.

And breakfast?

Well, breakfast didn’t taste too good. Dry, possibly stale. But this seems to miss the point.

It’s 8.55am at work. The lights are still off, nothing is happening and I am reassured of the responsible order of things. But for the rest of the morning, Bar Italia’s seedy exuberance and its much-praised coffee (as dizzy-strong as its atmosphere) stick with me, pulling my hair and distracting my respectable paperwork.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am disappointed not to see a small show of gratitude for the Bar Italia Sausage Sandwich. I say gratitude because this unparalled breakfast choice has developed an entirely deserved following and I'm none too sure that I and many others could get through the week without it. There is something about the herby-rich sausage and soft yet sturdy bun that cannot be put into words.

12:38 PM, February 17, 2010  

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