The Priory, Roehampton
020 8876 8261
by Bloody Mary
So obviously mental hospitals aren’t famed for their food, but this one costs a small fortune, so it should be. The anorexics are fed elsewhere – well, unless only part of your problem is anorexia, in which case you have to cope with the other crazies looking at you as you sniff your apple. Any other food issues and you’re in with the rest of us, the mildly insane. Fortunately, the secure unit also are fed separately, behind the high wall around Scary Compound where they are locked away – so I cant vouch for their eating conditions – but lets hope, if they are to have any chance at all, that their food was better.
Loony bin cooks don’t want to upset the patients, but they don’t really want to waste anything on people who believe all glasses to be half-empty at the best of times. The Priory have clearly decided that a way to make the inmates happy and the restaurant staff happy is to give the former a rough facsimile of what they want to eat, but made so horrible they don’t hang about and annoy the latter.
Mornings aren’t good times for loons, in general, so it’s not the happiest breakfast you’ve ever seen. Sad faces slouch in, stare at the eggs, find the last cling-filmed muesli and a pear and slouch out again. But the manics make up for the silence with their nice loud laughing, the drunkies & junkies are relatively perky in the morning, and the lady who liked to play with food with her toes adds “colour”. Some kind nurse might have brought in the Metro, so you could read about crucial hairstyle changes for Peaches Geldof.
Fried food in vast oily vats are slapped down at 7 and left to harden until 10am. Congealed egg and chipolatas, fried potatoes the consistency of shoes and gritty little nipples of mushroom lie miserably next to each other like failed suicide attempts. The Priory fryery was so bad that I couldn’t indulge my schooldays fetish for crap fryups. I would press a crunchy sliver of streaky bacon, if it had not disintegrated, between two slices of brown bread and drown it in a bloodbath of ketchup. Then I too, would nick a pear and slouch out. The healthy table all looked so dry.
Drink? Well, the coffee at the Priory has no caffeine in it. Crazies aren’t allowed caffeine – so coffee becomes useless, sour fluid that burns your mouth. Milk is in little UHT cartons that cause spectacular ejaculations over depressives sticking thumbs in them. On the plus side, there’s a LOT of fresh juice and pre-made hot chocolate, and these are very good.
A more radiant, sparkly breakfast - blueberries and strawberries in the muesli, french toast cut into sunbeams, pastries with jam and honey and cream, fresh roasted coffee, shimmering poached eggs - might have helped us bust through the day, boosting our fragile immune systems and bringing joviality to the depressed. But admittedly there, the biggest improvement would have been caffeine.