Monday, 23 March 2009


Now there are not many blogs out there that will post reviews of high end restaurants and fast food debacles (like KFC, Macs et al; be patient they’ll all appear here at some point) on a basis that resembles a level playing field. I suppose this blog documents all the places I’ve been to, both good and bad, and it’s also fair to point out that my tastes are simply eclectic. As much as I enjoy a posh dish of turbot, I also hanker after a flawed meal, especially first thing in the morning.

Blandford’s Café is a Marylebone institution, despite the presence of Le pain quotidien, Canteen and the Tapa Room offering a healthier approach to 21st century breakfasting, this greasy spoon caff is here to stay for as long as its landlord permit it to do so without the hoo-ha.

Unlike most places of its genre, Blandford’s isn’t seedy or we-only-welcome-regulars-like, and the place is actually pristine looking as well (this incidentally puts places like Apostrophe in Oxford Circus or Bodean’s in Soho to bloody shame, what with tables that remain unwiped or not cleared!).

The sort of golden hue to the overall outlook of the place makes it strangely timeless and that equally sepia-ed effect can only contribute to its purposeful comfort.

I’ve been coming here for ages and the thing that strikes me every time is the maturity (agewise) of its customers, although I’m no spring poussin, it’s like an over-50s eating club here.

Now every place has its own iconic trademark that sets it apart, and this is the Blandford’s one. This dude speaks in the most monosyllabic manner that is very nearly melancholic, I’m banking on the fact that he comes from somewhere where Yugo cars were or are made! Jonathan from Around Britain has already mentioned the requisite ‘attire’ in his review at Trusted Places. Simon Cowell incidentally champions the same tight T-shirt (plus a vee neck, any men over 40 with enough sense should avoid this fashion train wreck of a phenomenon).

But despite the two unflattering observations, Mr Swell is a well-mannered fellow, although not keen on small talk, he does say his thank yous and bye byes.

Ok, one simple rule- when going to any greasy spoons, do not and I repeat again, do not under any circumstances order coffee! I’m not exactly sure whether it’s a deliberate practice or just plain Mother Nature that good coffee is not allowed to shine at these places. Well I ordered one anyway just to prove my point.

There’s even a real espresso machine and grinder! And hedgehog!

The cappuccino with the foam- honestly I thought my sense of smell was shot this morning as I couldn’t detect any aroma of coffee whatsoever. Thank goodness for the sprinkling of cocoa powder, otherwise this cup would taste of nothing but hot milk (sort of thing that makes one lethargic after drinking it). This cup of non-coffee sets a new standard for my grading of coffee tasting, it’s not even an F, but a resolute U (unidentifiable)!

Stick to tea, not fancy Earl Grey or Lapsang Maggie May, just the Builder’s variety. This is the most appropriate quencher at anytime in any greasy spoons.

Three examples of the breakfast standards as follow-

Sausage, egg, beans and toast.

The only thing on this plate that tasted remotely genuine was the beans; sickly sweet and pure staple fodder.

Now for all those fans of Fergus Henderson’s cooking, this is right up your street, all the offal you can gather and much more can be found in this humble sausage. You know there’s always one dominant spice in these MRM sausages, and that’s either mace or nutmeg. I do love fryups.

Bacon n Egg butty- sod the lack of any provenance of the two or three main ingredients, this is good eating. You’ll need lots of brown sauce or faux Heinz tomato ketchup with this sandwich.

Eggs on Toasts.

Listen there’s really only one type of bread that’s undeniable at places like Blandford’s, and that’s not sourdough or ‘in’ spelt rolls, just the plain whiter than white pre-sliced supermarket miscellanea.

The yielding of the non freerange yolk is an absolute picture, if one gets tired of toasts, order the eggs with some freshly deep-fried frozen chips, a surefire cure for any hangovers! Trust me, been there and done that.

This review is not a knock on Blandford’s, in fact it’s precisely the negativity that I’ve projected that makes me come back time after time. A flawed meal can often end up for the better. Places like the excellent Lantana Café have the greasy spoons like Blandford’s to thank for what with serving this oft-misunderstood part of Brit cuisine. Recommended.

65 Chiltern Street

London W1M 1HS


Browners said...

Thanks for the shout. I adore Blandford's for all the idiosyncratic reasons you mention. In fact I've just written a review of it for LRB which will be out next week. What a coincidence!

bellaphon said...

Yo Browners, don't mention it. Looking forward to your LRB crit.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


bellaphon said...


You've made my day, honest. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

One of the worst place I've been to (and I've lived in India) - 45 mins for beans on toast which when it finally a came had so much butter the it was swimming in grease, when I asked to get it changed I was told it was my fault! There's a better cafe on Baker Street.

Anonymous said...

I recently came across this cafe because i was hungry and was disguted by the service i recieved, i didnt get served for a while and they told me to take a seat
when i ordered my food it was freezing like it came out of the freezer and plonked it on a plate!
i then spoke to the person working there and they said to me that she was having a bad day...which i felt wasnt my fault!!
i then went to leave and she started shouting at me and speaking in a forgein language and wanted me to pay so i said i wasnt paying for cold food i could eat at home
worst cafe in london!!!

Anonymous said...

Worked nearby until recently and Blandfords was a welcome escape at lunch. Good selection on the menu, always good, welcoming service and food always cooked to perfection. Highly recommend for a no nonsense, nice meal at a price that's hard to beat in this part of town.