Paul, Covent Garden
29 Bedford Street
020 7836 5321
by Orva Easy
(Best read accompanied by the gravelly strains of Edith Piaf.)
A sad tale this, a tale of woe, woe at human folly and seduction, in a moment of weakness, by a few rural paintings and a shiny boulangerie.
I thought Paul a handsome place as I awaited my companion. I noted with pleasure the way the high ceiling slightly amplified the clink of coffee cups and polite murmuring of the largely elderly customers. A table was adorned with gorgeously glazed croissants and pains au chocolat. I nibbled one. It was delicious.
Oh, it’s almost too much to bear. Bon courage, Orva. Wipe away that tear.
After some time sipping my rapidly cooling tea it became clear to me that my companion was not, in fact, about to materialise through the splendid glass doors. There was nothing for it but swallow my pride and eat. And at least the French know about two things, I thought – love is one and eggs is the other.
The dismay that accompanied my eggs Benedict to the table is indescribable. The toast, which should have been superb in this famous bakery was tasteless, tiny and undercooked. The ham was weird little pink circles curled up at the edges, in no way reminiscent of pig. The hollandaise sauce was bile-coloured. But the final straw, mes amies, was the eggs. I listlessly raised my knife and sliced through the white surface… and nothing poured out. The yolk sat, rock hard, like the soul of my absent companion. I utter this sentence with pain: had McDonalds attempted an approximation at eggs Benedict, they could not have done a more treacherous job.
But I rallied, mes chères, as I recalled the words of the great Piaf: Je ne regrette rien. My heart and my spirit may have been broken but the LRB continues to snatch innocent breakfasters from the jaws of crushing disappointment. It has not been in vain (breaks down).