The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Café Grill, Camden Town

Café Grill
40 Camden High St
Camden Town
020 7383 0494

by Nelson Griddle

“The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins.”

What was it in a brisk walk through Camden on a summer’s day which could call to mind this, D.H. Lawrence’s famous pronouncement on the state of the world in the 1920s?

Was it the credit crunch? The election of Boris Johnson as overlord of City Hall? I’m afraid, dear Reader, it was an événement much closer to home. What shook me was the fact that the Café Crescent, ancient greasy spoon stalwart of Camden High Street, has closed down. And in its place, almost as swiftly as night follows day, had appeared an upstart establishment, the Café Grill.

Well, a man has to eat, and decent breakfasts are thin on the ground in NW1, so I decided to give the Café Grill a whirl. At first glance, the changes are glaring. Broaching the entrance is no longer like stepping back in time. Or is it? That burgundy and silver sign is oh-so-2002. And the terracotta walls are distinctly 90s. Yet the menu, despite a hike in prices, is largely unchanged.

I opt for eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes and mushrooms. It’s all good, standard fare, served on a reassuringly oval plate. The mushrooms are doubtless the highlight (why are greasy-spoon mushrooms so often slightly slimy and tasteless? - these aren’t). And the whole is accompanied by pleasingly thick toast and rather good coffee.

Quibbles? Well, they were a bit late bringing the bill (This is one thing I never understand about eating out: when people offer me money, I accept like a shot). Apart from that, I left feeling that the end of the world might be survivable after all. But then, in the words of D.H.L.:

“We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the saddest thing is the loss to the community. Cafe Crescent was a place where you were served like a prince, even if you were a pauper, and lets face it, many regulars were! I recently saw the man with the horrendous, bulging eyes sipping coffee alone in Costa, looking a shadow of his former self... and that ridiculously fat man is nowhere to be seen - and that's saying something.

The competition on Camden high street is getting more visceral, and there is now a Pret about to open next to Sainsburys. That said, I think Cafe Crescent did very well, and Brenda just wanted to do something new - she had been there for ten years.

Cafe Grill is utter shit - I asked them for a Chicago burger and they looked at me like I was mad. Sad times. The menu has become more generic now, what a shame!

Does anyone else remember the chess tournaments that used to take place after hours here between old men in tweed jackets?

7:55 AM, July 29, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:51 AM, September 26, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have to disagree with Aaron a little here. The service wasn't always fantastic in Cafe Crescent and it is very good in the new place.

Most importantly the chef is the same excellent one who worked for Brenda for many years. HIGHLY recommended

2:53 AM, September 26, 2010  
Anonymous Natalie said...

I believe it was great, the food and pricing is right for Camden. The owner seems to be a very nice man and very talkative. it is ideal for families and everyone. to be honest. I often drop in for a cup of coffee.

Aaron, i'd just like to tell you that the food is still the same due to the same chef working at 'crescent cafe' is working there.

I believe that the place is wonderful and very friendly. I love the food and the staff there.

4:49 PM, February 25, 2012  
Anonymous Blinda said...

Aaron is clearly jealous that he cannot afford a place like cafe grill, and its really unfortunate how he is the waiter that tried to rob the till. Aaron, if you were so interested in this Brenda and the old people who barely cleaned the place that go and tell her, instead of making up rubbish.
I personally believe this is a cafe that should be recommended as the workers are very friendly and welcoming.

4:49 PM, February 25, 2012  
Anonymous Greg said...

I have to completely disagree with Aaron. I am a regular customer and I must say the service is high standard. I myself know the boss, and he seems to be a nice, friendly person. As for the workers they are also friendly and welcoming. I enjoy visiting the cafe on regular basis to have an enjoyable lunch.

5:02 PM, February 25, 2012  
Anonymous Greta said...

Aaron I strongly disagree with your hateful comments. I believe the cafe provides a friendly welcoming atmosphere for everyone.
As for the previous owners, when the cafe was called cafe crescent, I must say the old lady was very mean and unfriendly. As for the workers, they looked like people living on the streets, sorry for that. I think the place is 100 percent better and ideal for everyone.

5:06 PM, February 25, 2012  
Anonymous Brandon said...

Cafe grill is always busy whenever I attend it which is regularly, if this cafe was as bad as you said it was Aaron then why does it have lots of costumers? I believe it is one of the best cafes in Camden and the prices are ideal. Where else can you find a high quality coffee for £1.30? Customers prefer to go to clean and well served places and I believe this is why they get lots of customers. They staff are always friendly towards customers. When I visited the cafe with my family, the second coffee I was served came for free which I was extremely pleased with. Which other cafe does this? Also I used to live near this cafe, however I have moved to Euston now. But I always visit it with my work friends as I believe it is hard to find another cafe as good as this one. My friends are also impressed with the high quality.

7:15 PM, February 25, 2012  
Anonymous Emlyn said...

Just been to this cafe. I had a set 5 containing 1 egg, 2 bacon, 1 sausage, 2 slices of Tomato, 2 thick slices of bread and good portions of beans, mushrooms & chips. I had a coke and all together it cost me £6.70. This cafe is absolutely fine and if you don't like it I think it must be because you want something different from what this offers. It's a decent cafe, there maybe better around but not sure you would bother travelling to them if this was your local.

12:00 PM, May 12, 2013  
Blogger Kenrick said...

This is a great cafe. Used to go when it was cafe crescent and if anything it's better. I always get sausage, bacon, egg and chips - love it. Sometimes on rainy days it's hard to get a seat but love this place. Owner seems a nice bloke - always has a smile of recognition when we go in.

11:32 AM, June 03, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with Aaron and I also miss Cafe Crescent very much. Not putting down Cafe Grill just remembering how great it felt eating at Cafe Crescent. I so disagree with Greta. Who is the mean old lady you are talking about? I only remember that beautiful Brenda and she is awesome and not old either!! I remember the chess tournaments too! Great memories of Cafe Crescent!!!

3:13 AM, April 08, 2015  

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