Dean Street Townhouse, Soho
69-71 Dean Street
020 7434 1775
by Cher E. Jamm
It calls us over from across the street. 'Come in, come in' it says, with the call of a siren. We can't resist. It's been too long since we've spent a day together so we've decided to enjoy a secret day off. No-one will ever know; the possibilities are endless.
The sun isn't shining outside, but it may as well be inside. Think cosy country house hotel. Think slick 1950s French bistro. Then mesh the two together sort of, but not really. It's the type of place you want to move into. We're seated at a red banquet. It's hard to believe a branch of the Slug and Lettuce once stood here. The menu appears.
It's early, perhaps only just past half eight, but the place is buzzing with jolly breakfasters, mostly, it seems, made up of Soho's media contingent. This doesn't put us off - we're cocooned from this, in our own little booth, our hands thawing out as we pour steaming cups of tea from a shared pot.
He doesn't falter, and orders Full English as soon as the chirpy waiter trots over again. I hover over grilled kippers for a moment and then order the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Kippers seem too uncouth, too harsh, for today.
Breakfast arrives with neither fuss nor bother. An artful Full English: two eggs beaming like two small suns; the bacon is crisp and refined; the mushrooms, silky and somewhat obscene; the sausage lies puffed and glistening next to a grilled tomato, which, as usual, is nothing more than a grilled tomato; the black pudding is elegance on a plate.
He pushes the black pudding to one side. He's gone off it these days. I urge him to have a small taste (for you, dear reader, all for you). He refuses. A flash of anger passes over us, but it would be a shame to break the spell, at least so early on.
We eat in careful silence, stealing glances at one another, attempting to gauge the other's mood. The salmon is pale and delicious, the scrambles creamy and delicate, but I seem to have lost my appetite, I don't appreciate them fully. I'm sorry. He has finished eating, declaring it possibly the best he's ever had. No eye contact. Only the fat disk of blood sausage remains. A quiet and cold reminder of how we walk on wire.