The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Regency Café, Pimlico

Regency Café
17 - 19 Regency St
020 7821 6596

by Gracie Spoon

The Regency Café provoked a series of gleeful squeals from the corner in which my breakfast companion and I sat. We were beside ourselves with delight, and here, I think, is why: in a town where cafes and bars rapidly open, shut, refurb and change management, contriving new vintage/ retro/ kitsch/ 80s/ 50s/ Victoriana styles accordingly, the idea that the beautiful Regency Café and its different-place- different-time world is for real was almost a shock. Established in 1946, this café’s deco exterior, tiled walls, gingham curtains, and formica tables indicate history, as opposed to the carefully-planned, good-looking irony we’d absorbed elsewhere. And upon hearing that the current owner bought the place from a family friend twenty years ago - inspiringly uncorporate music for our over-advertised to ears – well, squeak! And wow.

Tucked away on a quiet museum of a street in which the Regency is not the only pristinely-maintained anachronism, this place is a proud veteran of breakfasting. You order at the counter, and wait for your breakfast in a time-warp atmosphere so potent it almost moves in black and white. It’s not just the menu and the décor either. Another tenet of the old-fashioned English cafe is also borne out, (one often more clearly modelled by its counterpart: the old fashioned English pub): with the exception of me and my co-squealer, the other people in here are noticeably all men – massive, blokey, lorry-driver sized men.

Summoned back to the counter by the shout, "ONE EGG ON TOAST, MUSHROOMS, TOMATOS AND BUBBLE", my breakfast begins. It’s gorgeous. For around £4: explosively flavourful tomatoes gently frosted with char, a perfectly-fried egg slithering on brown toast of the exact right thickness… and the best bit? A crispy bubble and squeal.


Blogger Doug said...

Whenever I have been the clientele seems to be quite diverse - mostly from the Tate, Channel 4 and various government departments around the corner, with only the odd smattering of builders/lorry drivers/etc.
I heartily recommend the Fish and Chips special on a Friday.

3:55 AM, July 14, 2006  
Anonymous Rich said...

The chicken, chips and mushrooms is better still, but it would be improvident to plan much for the afternoon after ordering this.

Not quite enough has been made of the owner's resonant bellow. Nor of the consequences of failing to jump up to the counter when the order is called...

7:02 PM, October 03, 2006  
Anonymous Isobel said...

Marco the Voice is a legend. On one memorable occasion, I ordered hash browns, black pudding, eggs and beans. He raised a quizzical eyebrow at me and opened his mouth..."A COWBOY breakfast for the LAYDEEEEEEEEE"
By such a long way, the best caff in the area. Possibly all London.

1:42 PM, March 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But late breakfasters be warned - Regency cafe closes by midday on a Saturday - leaving you to grumpily trudge the streets of Pimlico in a vain search for alternatives.

5:45 PM, July 07, 2007  
Blogger Rachel said...

The Regency is my local (to work) greasy spoon. It's hard not to eat there too often, but I don't think my arteries could take it. There aren't a lot of seats, but somehow it never winds up with people having food but nowhere to sit.

11:32 AM, July 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re the hell out of me - but the food is great!

2:06 PM, July 17, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that somewhere that only opens for four hours at weekends really deserves the title of 'breakfast cafe'.

2:06 PM, October 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My friends and I work in various offices around Victoria and there are frequent "Anyone fancy brekkie at The Regency?" emails in our In boxes. Your salvia glands erupt and you already have your order planned before you click "reply to all".

It is the best, freshest breakfast you'll ever have in London and where you have the wide choice of selecting chips, has browns, bubble and squeak, full English through to classic eggs Florentine. There's usually a queue of lunchtime diners too fear not as there's the unspoken “rule of respect” for fellow ravenous diners (no unnecessary lingering at the table and you free up your coveted seat).

Alas it's no longer Marco bellowing at the counter but a wonderful petite woman whose voice betrays her image.

How great it would be to have one of these in every neighbourhood in London I could then give up my fruitless search of where to eat brekkie late on Sun mornings in NW London.

If only they opened at the weekend…. sob.

10:49 PM, August 18, 2009  
Anonymous Tales from the Tiny Kitchen said...

There is now a lady serving at the counter who has a really booming voice - I went there a few times recently and she was deafening! Food was great - simple and unpretentious.

2:27 PM, August 11, 2010  
Blogger stu said...

Marco is still bellowing at the clients, as is the lady, who i think might be related, they take it in turns to deafen the customers, I suspect a full 6 day week would damage either one's larynx. And Saturday mornings bring family diners for the legendary education of Full English for those who wish to acquaint themselves of what Britain is all about.

2:28 PM, August 24, 2010  

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