Famous restaurants named after but not actually in the street where I work The New Piccadilly (8 Denman Street)
With only a few days of my time in Piccadilly remaining, I thought I'd better hurry up and visit one of London's finest remaining classic cafes. The New Piccadilly is an anachronism tucked away behind Piccadilly Circus in Denman Street, closer to Shaftesbury Avenue than to Piccadilly itself. The cafe shouldn't still be here, it should have been overtaken by the transatlantic burger & coffee invasion by now, but thank goodness it still survives because it's a delight.
I went for lunch, back in time to the 1950s, taking a red leatherette pew at a yellow formica table. A waiter resplendent in dazzling white uniform walked over with the facsimile Fifties menu, with 21st century prices scribbled on in blue marker pen. No tea was served here originally, that's a late addition to the traditional coffee and hot chocolate, but it's still very cheap at 50p a cup (or 30p with a meal). I was tempted by the all-day breakfasts (or 'egg dishes', as they're described here) and also by a number of the meat-based 'garni' dishes, but finally plumped for steak, chips and spaghetti (without the spaghetti). The steak was more grey than brown, and just a little wrinkly, but none the worse for it when doused in ketchup. After a platter piled high I was only just capable of ordering dessert, but the selection of steamed puddings for £2.20 was irresistable. My spotted dick arrived looking like Silbury Hill flooded in a deep ocean of custard, and was as delectable as anticipated. £10 plus tip all in. Bargain.
The owner, 61 year-old Lorenzo Marioni, looked up from the counter and said goodbye as I left. His father started this gem of a cafe in 1951, but the area is now scheduled for redevelopment and sky-high rents are crippling the business's balance sheet. Lorenzo's next goodbye may be his last. I exited past the bright pink espresso machine, out into the street where a big neon sign still shines the word 'EATS' at a world that's passed this place by. Get down here quick won't you, or you won't know what you've lost til it's gone.