The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Diana's Diner, Covent Garden

Diana's Diner
39 Endell Street
Covent Garden
020 7240 0242

by Cher E Jamm

Every now and then, there comes a caff that is so perfect, so dishevelled in all the right places, so masterful in the art of making breakfast, that it makes me just want to fall to my knees and weep hot tears of joy. Diana's Diner is such a place.

It's been sitting pretty on Endell Street, Covent Garden for eons. I, shamefully, had turned my nose up and walked past it for many a year. Today, with my companions - one of whom is eight months with child and craving bacon - I set foot through its fine doors and knew instantly that I had been a fool. Why had I never gone in? Because the bright lights of Covent Garden, with its macchiatos here and its croissants there had lured me away, chewed me up and spat me out onto the pavement - that’s why.

Diana's Diner is not fancy. It doesn't do organic anything. It doesn't serve soya milk, and I suspect that if you were to ask for brown or granary toast, you would be laughed at. It’s full of labourers, clubbers on their way home, white collars on their way in to work and has-been rockstars on their way to nowhere in particular. In the latter category were Danny Goffey and the other guy from Supergrass, sat in matching red Ray-bans, furiously shovelling bacon and egg butties into their increasingly jowly gobs.

To the food. A Full English came with perfect mushrooms with not a bit of slime, two halves of grilled tomato properly cooked with their blackened faces staring proudly from the plate, a sausage that was nice to look at but as with so many sausages these days, tasted of nothing. The bacon – oh, the bacon – was crisp, plentiful, delicious. Beans were hot and the scrambled eggs were fluffy, light and cooked with a panache that is rare in these weary times. Salsa Sally was feeling regal and opted for the Breakfast Royale, more scrambled eggs and a generous portion of smoked salmon on toast. Her only negative observation was that she would have preferred the toast on the side so as to prevent it from becoming soggy. Both meals came with a cup of tea and were modestly priced at £4.50.

The decor was simple: wooden tables and ramshackle chairs, walls filled with framed, signed photos of 1980s stage actors I’ve never heard of. The service was polite and swift. The owner, a cheery Portuguese man kept calling us 'bella', insisting our pregnant friend eat for free. "You are eating for two,” he said. “It is an honour to have you in here”.

Actually, the honour was all ours.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

this place is a gem. it actually feels like something is missing if i miss going to it for a day, i cannot wait to be back there tomorrow and hopefully have a good conversation with whoever i run into

12:27 AM, December 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their bacon butties are the best - and they are ridiculously cheap.

4:17 PM, March 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a find, thank goodness for the internet or we wouldn't have known about it. The full english breakfast and the bacon/sausage butties are fantastic & cheap. The cafe is spotless. I can definitely recommend it.

11:30 AM, September 30, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

This place would be a welcome alternative for the overpriced hotel breakfast even if the food was about the same. But instead the food is better than most 4 and 4 star hotels serve you (at 16 to 25 pounds per person). for the price of a drink in the hotel you get a breakfast that will hold you over till lunch

bravo, and thanks to the reviewers without them would never have found it

4:39 PM, November 29, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been in here several times over the last few years and not been that impressed. Dour service, pretty bad quality food and not especially cheap for what is, after all, just a caff. Contrary to what's said by the commenter above, ingredients are no better than any suburban greasy spoon (perhaps their "4 star hotel" was unusually bad). No more "spotless", again, than the average. Expect to pay 4 quid for something on toast; 1.50 for tea. Useful for its location but only good value compared to what's around it, and the other cafe in that area, around the corner (while also a bit on the ambitious side pricewise) has always seemed a bit better to me.

Maybe next time I'll try getting pregnant before going in and score a free meal.

10:40 AM, January 20, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This place is called "Diana's Diner" because in the '80s it was run by an Aussie woman called Diana & her mate. It was a great place back then famed for home cooking type food instead of your usual greasy spoon fry ups. And the prices were reasonable. It was quite well knownn

Can't comment on it now cos after Diana left some Italians took over and the place went down hill & I very nearly got into a fight with one of the new stroppy Italians. Not been back since.

7:45 AM, February 06, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has to be one of the best kept secrets in London ?
Great breakfast, dour service and not decorated for 20 years - what more can you want !!!!!!

10:22 PM, April 09, 2013  

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