G Muratori, Clerkenwell
162 Farringdon Road
020 7837 4015
by Hashley Brown
Two days with no letters. If I was a postman I'd stay in bed. Imagine! It's not the kind of profession with many lie-ins, although I guess industrial action isn't about having fun, more about standing in a line outside your office (and, you know, defending a vital industry against unprecedented change, harassment and bullying). But in any case there wasn't really any protest when I arrived at the Mount Pleasant depot last Friday morning for another frontline LRB despatch - in fact there wasn't really anyone. So, in the absence of any inside scoop on a disgruntled postie's choice of pork products, I turned to the proprietor of the nearest cafe. The man in First Class Cafe, on Mount Pleasant itself, seemed very pleased: the union fund the bacon sarnie and cups of tea habits of the picketers, which is good for them and certainly good for him. "I send 'em a bill at the end. One man's misery, is... well you know..." he trailed off.
I needed a sit down to contemplate the complex economics at play, and although the 'First Class' may have won prizes for its topical nomenclature, it didn't really have any seats, so a retreat was in order. Just down the hill, and round the back of the business end of the Royal Mail's sorting office, sits the Muratori cafe. It's wonderfully brown, and run by an Italian lady of advancing years called Vita, who dispatches the cups of tea on the steadier side of very slowly. Vita's been there for 50 years, and as I nervously told her that I'd like to order off-piste from their small but well worn menu, she encouraged me to order what I liked, with enough warmth and affection for me to feel like a regular already, only pausing in taking my order to yell, 'Toast burning!' across the room, in some olfactory pavlovian reaction to the first tendrils of smoke creeping out from the kitchen.
The Muratori is a cabbie's favourite, but looks out on the bustling cycling freeway that is Margery Street. I've often wondered whether the cab drivers are sizing up their opponents over their egg and chips, or just as I was, marvelling at the variety of London's bicycle pushers. Neither probably, but over my sausage, bubble, egg, black pudding and toast I kept a wary eye out for the cabbie who had called me a 'silly c*nt' as I pedalled home the night before. The indignity of sharing a breakfast table with one's 4-wheeled nemesis may have been pushing things a bit too far. Anyhow, the food was great. Fat jolly sausages, generous black pudding, a bubble with a healthy but not over-zealous green to white ratio, and a perfect egg. The tea was good and strong, and the toast not in the least bit burnt - this place really did live up to Vita's claims. "Remember, where the taxi drivers are, the food is the best!". I'd learnt no more about the postal strike, but for less than £4 had had a lovely breakfast.