The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mani's, Hampstead

12 Perrins Court
020 7435 0777

by John LeCafe

Mani’s had been somewhat of a tradition for me a few years ago. I worked in an office close by where meat was banned by the vegan boss. Pork Fridays, as I and a colleague termed them, were our way of protesting against this.

On the morning I returned, the weather was beautiful. It was one of those clear, crisp, cloudless days that seemingly only autumn can produce. As the cafe is set down a lovely cobbled street with no passing cars, I decided to sit outside. It had provided blankets on the backs of the chairs, but given both the weather and the speed with which I had walked up the hill, these proved unnecessary.

They had two kinds of fry-up. One was a bit pricey and the other even pricier. Tea was not included either. Still, this was Hampstead. When the waitress came, I surprised myself by going for the expensive option and surprised myself even more by going for wholemeal bread. I must have been swayed by the location and ambience.

The staff were friendly, polite and incredibly quick. They offered me choices about everything that seemed pertinent (sauce, bread and type of tea) and smiled warmly whenever they passed. The tea arrived within moments, toast shortly after and the rest of the breakfast was not far behind. The toast was made from thick and hearty bread, and the breakfast featured a higher class of sausage and perfectly cooked eggs. But something seemed to be lacking.

I was struggling to put my finger on it. Here was a trip down memory lane on a glorious autumnal day and an excellent breakfast, but soon I realised it was the other customers who were affecting my experience.

One couple a few tables down from me were sat quietly enjoying coffee while at their feet a small dog scuttled about. The dog had a pink jacket and a hairstyle which is normally popular with young girls and, I believe, is called a pineapple. However, this was simply amusing and not affecting my meal.

It was the estate agents sat a few tables in the other direction who were coming close to ruining it. They spoke loudly and boringly to each other of million pound deals and commission cheques. Often they took calls from clients who they would talk to as if interested while indicating to their colleague what a bore they were: smiling, laughing and joking on the phone as they made derogatory hand signs to their dining companion. Finally, once their phones had stopped and their talk of money ceased, they moved on to discuss shooting in unnecessary detail or to just staring at any woman who walked past.

This is a wonderful café with fantastic staff and a top-notch fry up, but I will take a closer look at who else is there before sitting down next time.


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