19 The High Parade
Streatham High Road
0208 835 8285
by Nelson Griddle
Forgotten Eighties popster Paul Hardcastle had a big hit with a record called “Nineteen”. It was so named, as he explained in laborious detail on the disc itself, because nineteen was the average age of a combat soldier in Vietnam.
Is there some similar statistic associated with Nineteen, the new star in the glittering firmament of eateries on Streatham High Road? Previous visits have had me convinced that the name could only refer to the average number of minutes you are likely to wait before someone comes along and asks if you’d like a drink, rather than anything so mundane as its postal address.
In short, the service at Nineteen is scatty. There’s also something a bit Vegas about the whole place, what with the metallic baubles, the leather booths, the high-end liqueurs behind the bar. Imagine the unlikely circumstance of Englebert Humperdink, say, finding himself in Streatham. Nineteen is precisely the kind of place he would choose to prop up the bar with a glass of Maker’s Mark.
Inspired by this showbizzy ambience, I ordered that American staple, Eggs Benedict - the only breakfast dish which inspired the stage name of a star of the A-Team (Dirk “Face” Benedict, in case you’re wondering).
The dish was good, but spoilt by undercooked bacon. Bacon, in my view, has to be crisp, otherwise you might as well be eating gammon. And never more so than with Eggs Benedict. This is partly because the dish rose to prominence in the good old US of A, where you’re more or less guaranteed bacon crunchier than the current credit crisis. But more importantly, all that egg yolk and hollandaise sauce just cries out for a bit of contrasting crispiness.
As for the service, well, it’s still a bit erratic, but at least their hearts are in the right place. In fact, just after we left the waitress rushed down the street to give my companion the sunglasses she had left on the table. Scatty, but sweet.