Regency Cafe (Westminster)

How we brunched:

As far as brunch is concerned, I don’t like to play favourites (as much as one can with a blog called ‘Best Brunch Ever’). I’m not saying all brunches are created equal, but for every brunch, there is a season, a time, a person, a certain brand of hangover. And we created the STBSS to try and demonstrate this – where one brunch may fail, another may succeed.

But, if I’m honest, I have a favourite. A brunch for all seasons, if you will. I have been waiting and waiting for Amy to let me write this review. Her stipulation that we do things chronologically makes no sense to me, as I’ve visited this place so many times. In fact, the only reason we ever went anywhere else, the reason this blog was born, is because this particular café is closed on Sundays, our prime brunch day – a fatal flaw.

I am talking about the Regency Café in Westminster. Less than five minutes walk from my London Crash pad, this is well-known by celebrities, MPs and Foodies as being the best greasy spoon in London. It’s appeared in films such as Layer Cake, Brighton Rock and recent smash hit Pride, and was voted 5th best restaurant in London 2013 by Yelp users.

Despite its 100% traditional, art deco appearance, there is something about the Regency that is quite unlike anything else. Its walls are lined with celebrity endorsements and fashion shoots that used it as a background. There are strictly enforced rules – you must queue and order at the counter before taking your seat, and on Saturday mornings the queue sometimes snakes round the building. It moves much quicker than the one for The Breakfast Club though. On a weekday, you get a comfortable mix of politicians in suits and builders in overalls and cabbies coming off the late shift, and no one is exempt from the rules. There will either be a man or a woman behind a counter, and they bark orders that strike fear into your very bones, then turn to you with warm and genuine smiles and ask “what you havin’, love?”

All the breakfast traditionals are there, except fried bread, and it’s never seen as too early to order chips. Yolks are served runny, sausages with real meat (black pudding, too, if that’s how you roll), and white bread in thick slabs loaded with butter. Full English is £5.50 with tea or coffee included. Cash only.

I cannot insist on you visiting this place enough. It is essential.

– Hattie

“Waiting and waiting for Amy to let me write this review”. Well now I sound like the Wicked Witch of the South-East Brunch Scene, fiendishly controlling Hattie’s eloquent waxing on the runniness of eggs, cackling away into my well-organised food calendar, and setting winged brunch-monkeys on her as she cuddles her adorable puppy and wishes she could leave the bright city lights behind her to return home to her simple life in the country wearing some flashy shoes.

… Actually, now that I think about it, that’s pretty accurate.

But if Wicked taught us anything it’s that there are two sides to every story, and actually I am just very passionate about making sure our reviews have nice pictures, and that we don’t wait so long to write the review that we end up making most of it up. Readers, I’m doing it all for you.

Anyway.

I actually agree with Hattie when it comes to the food. The Regency Café doesn’t hold quite the same emotionally resonant place in my heart (Hattie’s mum had her wedding breakfast there, for example, so I’m never going to have *quite* the same attachment to it. Hi Hattie’s mum!)

But the food speaks for itself. It’s hard to make a bad fry up, let’s be honest, but these are on a whole other level. The ingredients are simple and traditional, but they feel like they’ve been carefully selected to be the highest quality around, and they’re all cooked perfectly.

Take the sausages. Sure, you’re not going to turn down a run-of-the-mill, bog-standard sausage with your breakfast, probably assuming that it’s only about 40% meat. But the Regency uses nice, thick pork sausages, with herbs in them like the posh ones from Sainsbury’s. And the eggs have big, yellow yolks that burst with flavour. The bread feels fresh, cut into big doorstop slices with nice crusts. It’s everything that you would want out of a traditional English breakfast, but it’s done really, really well. And who can argue with that?

– Amy

TEA. Can you ever really beat a great cup of tea?

TEA. Can you ever really beat a great cup of tea?

Amy has no time to pose for photos.

Amy has no time to pose for photos.

So good we made it our Twitter profile.

So good we made it our Twitter profile.

Super Technical Brunch Scoring System:

– Eatability

5/5 – It is what it is, but what it is is perfect.

5/5 – 100% the best hangover cure you’ll ever have.

– Menu Range

4.5/5 – Not available online, but an almost full range of British classics.

4/5 – I mean, don’t go there for American brunch stuff like pancakes and waffles, but in terms of traditional English breakfast food, you couldn’t ask for better.

– Drinks

4/5 – No smoothies but they do orange juice in big pint bottles, and squash for 50p.

3.5/5 – The big pints of orange juice are great, but there could be more variety.

– Sweets

2.5/5 – They have them, but I’ve never felt any need to try.

2.5/5 – Feel like I can’t really comment, so plumping for the average.

– Atmosphere

5/5 – Quite unlike anywhere else, and completely stole my heart.

5/5 – So good. Just don’t think about all the terrible politicians that go there. Think about the celebrities, and the time they filmed the best movie of 2014, Pride!

– Value

5/5 – You won’t get better, and certainly not in London.

5/5 – Really incredible prices.

– Service

4/5 – No table service, but the owner Marco makes everyone feel like his personal favourite customer, and keeps the restaurant running smoothly.

4/5 – So charming. So great.

– Social Media

0/5 – None, and you can’t even easily find opening times online.

0/5 – And yet, I’m not even mad at them.

Total: 59

Bonus points

Convenience: 5/5

Celebrity kudos: 5/5

Scariest restauranteer in the world who still manages to be charming: 5/5

Retaining its mid-1940s vintage charm: 5/5

STBSS: 79

Bacon and egg roll

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2 Responses to Regency Cafe (Westminster)

  1. Its true, we did have breakfast there on our lovely wedding day, although poor Hattie was struggling with flu. But she’s made up for it many times with us since…anyway, what a perfect wedding – breakfast at the Regency, dinner at the Stafford Hotel! How classy is that!

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  2. Peter says:

    Delighted to see that you also tried that almost-vanished essential of the café breakfast, “milkman’s orange”. This was about the only fruit juice we ever saw when I was young – delivered by the milkman in identical bottles to the milk itself. Purists will probably tell me this orange is somehow bad for me as it is clearly processed and bottled in a giant factory rather than in some £500 kitchen gismo endorsed by a “celebrity” chef. I wonder how long this taste of the 50s will survive?

    Like

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