Café Grill, Camden Town
40 Camden High St
020 7383 0494
by Nelson Griddle
“The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins.”
What was it in a brisk walk through Camden on a summer’s day which could call to mind this, D.H. Lawrence’s famous pronouncement on the state of the world in the 1920s?
Was it the credit crunch? The election of Boris Johnson as overlord of City Hall? I’m afraid, dear Reader, it was an événement much closer to home. What shook me was the fact that the Café Crescent, ancient greasy spoon stalwart of Camden High Street, has closed down. And in its place, almost as swiftly as night follows day, had appeared an upstart establishment, the Café Grill.
Well, a man has to eat, and decent breakfasts are thin on the ground in NW1, so I decided to give the Café Grill a whirl. At first glance, the changes are glaring. Broaching the entrance is no longer like stepping back in time. Or is it? That burgundy and silver sign is oh-so-2002. And the terracotta walls are distinctly 90s. Yet the menu, despite a hike in prices, is largely unchanged.
I opt for eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes and mushrooms. It’s all good, standard fare, served on a reassuringly oval plate. The mushrooms are doubtless the highlight (why are greasy-spoon mushrooms so often slightly slimy and tasteless? - these aren’t). And the whole is accompanied by pleasingly thick toast and rather good coffee.
Quibbles? Well, they were a bit late bringing the bill (This is one thing I never understand about eating out: when people offer me money, I accept like a shot). Apart from that, I left feeling that the end of the world might be survivable after all. But then, in the words of D.H.L.:
“We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”