The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Cafe SO, Tower 42, Broadgate

Cafe SO
Tower 42
25 Old Broad Street
London EC2N 1HQ

by Bloody Mary

Today, I breakfasted where I work - a security threat called Tower 42. It is my favourite skyscraper in London, a scored metal behemoth shaped in the celtic bud of the Nat West symbol, with a proud glowing blue head. Tower 42 used to be the tallest building in London but whilst it now stoops limply beneath Canary Wharf, its style keeps it firmly entrenched in Londoners' affections. Eerily, floor 13 of the tower does not exist - or rather, it is physically there, but in permanent darkness. No lifts stop there and the fire escapes block it off. Rumours of CIA/MI5/FSB headquarters abound.

The new Cafe SO at the bottom of the Tower is a "deli cafe". A deli cafe is a US freemarket invention, minus any nod to US customer service. A purchase involves pointing and grunting at someone dressed in plastic who probably hates you, in order to make up "sandwiches" from filmy, multicoloured filling variations plus mayonnaise, a choice of iceberg or a tomato slice, served on any of a choice of breads (all of which seemed to be bagels). Pre-coffee, it’s an imposing assault course. I know how to point at things, as I am a brilliant shopper. However, I am a terrible cook. I don’t know how foods like to be combined. This is why I go to restaurants.

Big steel army vats of “fried breakfast” were a nice addition to the sparse sandwich “bar”. The sausages looked sizzlingly hot and everything was sparklingly clean. It is difficult to miscombine a fryup, but I only knew everything was clean because most of the vats seemed to be empty. This at 8.30, their busiest time.

Though the staff were friendlier than anticipated, it’s unavoidably claustrophobic to breakfast at the bottom of a skyscraper. The heaviness of the floors above you, suits around you and hours before you weigh on your choices. I panicked. I chose anything that looked pretty. I pointed at prawns, then at an inoffensive bagel, then at cheese. This didn't taste as good as I had hoped. Thankfully the coffee - hot, strong and foamy - washed away the taste.

Café SO is challenging. Some people like challenges, but I’m afraid I need more help with breakfast. I might have to leave the plotting to the spies on the thirteenth floor.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely you are not a pun?

6:43 PM, April 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I am fairly sure that prawns, in any combination, are an unnacceptable breakfast stuff.

6:47 PM, April 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fairly accurate review of the cafe. On the whole, the food tends to be of a high standard, unfortunately the same can't be said of the service. The concept of a breakfast service in the city seems to have by-passed the staff, at 8.30am two people were painfully serving the waiting customers coffee whilst another queue formed for the 'sausage bar'. After 15mins one of the two staff came over to serve at the sausage bar, no apology for the wait.
Once served, you have to join yet another queue to pay, which is also the same queue to order coffee from and obviously as one staff member had departed the coffee making facility to serve at the sausage bar, the speed had been halved for coffee making and therefore the queue had grown and was slowly shuffling towards the till. When I attempted to point out that I just wanted to pay and didn't wish to order coffee I was informed that I had to wait in line. End of conversation.
They seem to have totally and utterly missed the point on service, a total time wasted of 25mins is not good enough. If it wasn't for the fact that the sausage sandwhich was rather awesome, I and my fellow colleagues would boycot the cafe indefinately.

9:03 AM, September 11, 2009  
Anonymous MJB said...

The food is good, but the delay between getting served and then queueing up to finally pay is terrible. My sauasage sandwich was almost cold by the time I finally sat down to eat it.
Some basic organisational skill could solve this. However, this is clearly not one of the employment criteria for the staff working here, who tend toward miserable, unhelpful and slow.

9:12 AM, September 11, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delicious food, served with the worst
quality of service one could ever imagine to get. The staff members are incredibly rude, miserable and slow. Their attitude killed the plasure of having my lunch. The only pleasant and smiling staff member was a boy that popped up for a couple of minutes. The ladys are ridiculously nasty. Food fresh, nice, well presented.

1:28 PM, September 14, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a customer i expected to be served in a good manner and positive attitude. Unfortunately, service has not performed well and i am very disappointed. Request to make a lunch was ignored by one staff member. Tryng to explain my rights and expectations from the servise went worst - beeing told to make a complain in sarcastic way.

12:36 PM, June 05, 2010  

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