Café Seventy Nine, Primrose Hill
79 Regents Park Road
by Corin Flakes
Much to the chagrin of this devoted carnivore, Café Seventy Nine is a vegetarian joint with organic inclinations – even its cutlery, you suspect, is eco-friendly and ethically sound. The breakfast menu is rudimentary but warmly nostalgic, with a deferential (almost schoolboy-ish) nod to the primacy of bread: beans on toast, mushrooms on toast, cheese on toast… It’s also hugely expensive. In this town, it seems conscience costs.
Tastefully decorated but unmanageably small, it took Ed Benedict and me some time to lever ourselves - through a flux of inelegant, breathless contortions - into a cavity in the corner. This is not a cafe for reading papers; unfolding a broadsheet could feasibly endanger the chef’s view of his grill. Unbowed by claustrophobia, the clientele managed to radiate wealth and riotous fertility; their macro-biotic babies yelped precociously in designer dungarees.
Ed, with palpable glee, went for the vegetarian breakfast, something you’d reasonably expect the kitchen to excel at (especially for an immoderate £6.75). Regrettably, it was a disjointed affair – the scrambled eggs were inconsistent, glowing yellow with hypnotic, nuclear effulgence. The sausages were parched, thumb-sized protrusions, flanked by stringent wheels of raw tomato. Thankfully, the commendable rustic bread delivered on its wholesome promise, but as for the mushrooms…
At £4.75 for mushrooms on toast you anticipate brilliance; sourced from a flourishing field, surgically sliced, heated tenderly in an ambrosial blend of garlic and butter… but no. Limp and nebulous, despite my avalanche of seasoning, the tastelessness and price combined to insult both palate and wallet. I prodded and probed despondently, while Ed, a cep-zealot of noted fervour, fell into silent melancholy.
We left morally emboldened, but financially and spiritually weak.