Le Chandelier, East Dulwich
161 Lordship Lane
020 8299 3344
by Malcolm Eggs
"Would you like your bacon soft or crispy?"
The waitress at Le Chandelier has just asked me this question and it sets me thinking. What if I meet a genie today and he instructs me that I must decide whether to give up bacon or steak for the rest of my life? I don’t think I would hesitate. I love that "to hell with sausage and mash, to hell with barbary duck" moment when I order steak. But lose bacon? It'd never work. When I was younger, I‘d take an eight-rasher pack and grill it all for a single sandwich. No sauce; sometimes not even an egg. I would miss steak, but wouldn't pine for it, not in the same way. But then... What if the little genie – he looks like a tiny, green-haired Peter Kay – is tricking me, and actually I have just expunged juicy steak only to get soft bacon for all my living days? Cruel, cheeky genie. Crispy and soft are completely different foods, far less alike than rare and well-done steak. Which brings me full circle to:
Her question - so welcome, so criminally rare – renders me unable to criticise anything. The tinny music emanating from the kitchen is endearing. The unbuttered toast is better that way. The scrambled eggs are perfect. The décor is flawless. The toilet is well signposted. And to be fair, in general, it is lovely. Mabel Syrup’s eggs benedict is wonderful and generous, the eggs poached to perfection and the hollandaise finished off with an interesting method involving grilling the top until it browns slightly. It works well. My bacon and scrambled eggs aren’t going to win any major awards, but they are just fine. And the cakes and loaves of bread stacked up at the counter look incredible.
We emerge into the winter and get into the car. I resolve to eat steak the next time I get the chance – it being prudent to make the most of it, just in case.