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Published October 17th 2012
A Man-sized Slice of Proper London
In an inconspicuous corner of Pimlico you will find the very model of a greasy spoon – a man-sized slice of proper London with fried eggs on top. Little seems to have changed at The Regency Cafe since it was established in 1946 – the classic deco frontage, the Gingham curtains – it's a living memento of the Edwardian era and has provided the backdrop for dozens of films such as Brighton Rock and Layer Cake. While many of the capital's older cafes have gone gastro or bowed to a kind of mozzarella-based modernisation, to its great credit the Regency has remained cut-price, unpretentious and crucially, full-English.
The cafe is open all afternoon but the business end of the day is breakfast time. Visit mid-morning on Saturday when a fry-up is entirely justifiable if not vital for survival. The service is brisk and noisy: orders are taken, relayed to all present at 200 decibels - "BACON, EGG, TOMS AND BEANS!" - plated up and placed on the counter in seconds. The manager is worth a mention here, a polite and unimposing lady with a voice of such phenomenal volume and reach she could sing descant to a jet engine. It really can be a rather startling experience for the uninitiated.
The food is straight-up and stodgy but cooked well and of a decent quality. I had two hunks of crusty bread, a free-range egg, Lincolnshire sausages and builders' tea the colour of terracotta. It was something of a workout for the digestion but cured my hangover. Bring a tabloid newspaper to peruse afterwards, it just feels right. In fact, cor blimey guvnor I could start playing the spoons.