Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Page Street, London


Full English

Before I leave Page Street, here’s the other building I noticed as I made way to Tate Britain. The Regency Cafe (‘established 1946’) still has the black tiles and white lettering that must have gone up just after the end of the Second World War. It smacks a little of the ‘back end of Art Deco’ that cafe designers liked to use at around that time, but looks forward too to the clean modern lines of the 1950s. Just the thing, in fact, to represent the mix of post-war optimism, Italian flair, down-to-earth food, and good coffee that made the English ‘caff’ what it once was and, occasionally, still is.

Inside this resilient survivor there’s some original wall tiling to set off some classic posters, plus a lot of later formica-topped tables and plastic chairs. We’re in archetypal cafe territory, in other words: a lived-in place that looks as if it’s been delivering a hearty breakfast and decent coffee since the time when muffins were always toasted and barristas stood up in court not behind counters. I hope when next I’m passing I’ll have time to go in and try the place for myself.

8 comments:

Anne said...

Lovely to see this here. I used to go in for breakfast when I was sent to London for work. It's a real powerhouse of a place, with an amazing woman who shouts out orders like a foghorn. It's great to see somewhere so well-preserved still thriving!

Peter Ashley said...

Just love it. I do hope the exterior is listed, and the gingham curtains come to that. They remind me of the original Coronation Cafe at Guyhirne on the A47 between Peterborough and Wisbech.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Splendid isn't it? The curtains would remind one of France, were it not for the fact that there are, needless to say, no gingham tablecloths on the formica tables.

By the way, those among you who are familiar with the world of type and lettering will no doubt have noticed the unusual letter spacing of the cafe name (REGENC Y CAFE, indeed)!

Anonymous said...

I think the C fell off and was wrongly put back far too close to the N. Also the F and E on Cafe are not brilliantly spaced, no doubt they put the lamp post where they did to cover this up!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, anon, I think you're right. Old designer colleagues from my days in the office would have looked at the spacing and said something along the lines of, 'Look at that! You could ride a bicycle though it.' Or drive a Routemaster bus through it, perhaps.

But café signs, like greengrocers' labels, do have their moments. I remember one in Covent Garden (before the place got spruced up and where greengrocery and refreshments came together) on which 'café' was spelled with a grave accent on the letter 'c'.

emma said...

A computer glitch - the letter spacer was me!

Adam said...

This is fantastic. I'll be in London next week and I'd love to go there. Do they still do the 'traditional' food?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Adam: They were closing for the day when I went past, but I'm told that they do. I intend to return when I'm next in London with time on my hands, especially if I'm around at breakfast time.