Cafe Diana, Archway
653 Archway Road
020 7281 8629
by Paddy Hashbrown
Seeking asylum from the Archway wind screeching through our bones on a Sunday morning, we stumble on a café whose window bears the legend, "Breakfast for £1.99". After exchanging knowing looks – for words are not needed - our group of eight sweeps through the door.
Inside and seated (alas, the size of our party means we are cleaved onto two tables) the room is aswarm with open mouths and furtive eyes glancing towards the poor matron who is single-handedly manning the fort for 20 empty stomachs. We tap our fingers noisily on the Formica as we wait for what seems like aeons, the menu at least offering some solace.
I order “Breakfast Number 2” and cast my gaze to the door, scowling at anyone tempted to come in who might affect the expedience with which our orders are dealt with.
With my facial muscles suitably exercised, breakfast arrives: a sausage that passes for a taut, red, iron ingot; a sloppy fried egg that seems to be attempting to blend into the plate to avoid being eaten; two slips of bacon, curled skywards to resemble flipped pink tortoise shells.
My appetite was revived, however, by tinned tomatoes entering stage left and proceeding to glue the unconvincing meal together with the finesse and strength of Alexander the Great. Aided by a mug of tea with enough vigour and tannin to revive the most cold-hearted of cadavers, my stomach was eventually standing on all fours, ready to face the day.
Breakfast for £1.99? Not quite – with added (needed) extras the price crept in at just under the £5 mark. But really, who is to complain? As a relaxing way to eschew the biting, barking, swelling chill of Holloway Road, Cafe Diana is a princess among men.