Harlem Cafe is the reason for this blog. Our desire was Sunday Brunch, elevenses, something involving an egg or two. It was during our time there that we pondered.....what makes a good brunch.....in fact what makes an enjoyable eatery?
We were drawn in by the decor and the individuality of the place. Our excitement continued as we sat in the lion head arm chairs, tapping our toes to the soothing sounds of the 60's. It was a good job these were entertaining as the menu took a while to come - menu being a laminated piece of paper presented with shoddy spelling and inappropriate use of "apostrophe's" (steak cibitta and herbal tea's - now come on!). F ordered one of herbal tea's teas, an apple one in fact and proceeded to be perplexed by the apple juice that arrived in a bottle. Aside from the fact it wasn't a herbal tea, a place as beautifully designed as this serves Fruice juice in a plastic bottle, the kind you'd find in Londis. It did have 50% extra though - treats! Sadly B's Americano didn't arrive until much later and served by the chef. What was going on in this place? However this did arrive with a cow milk jug - very jolly! All in all, drinks were a boob.
We both ordered the egg breakfast for £4.95 which included bacon, eggs, tomato and toast. The unfriendly vegetarian menu was adapted by B and he substituted the bacon for a measly sprinkling of mushrooms. Alas, no butter, need I say more. The food was OK, nothing special, just OK. B contemplated, how do some eateries make breakfast special? We came to the conclusion that it's the service that gives it that sprinkling of fairy dust. We never had the same server (I include the chef who brought the coffee) and between that girl with the chewing gum and rubber gloved hygiene hyper chef(who we observed used the glove to touch everything but the food), we were made to feel like table 4 in the corner and nobody likes to go to a restaurant and be made to feel like table 4 in the corner.
Was this place really that bad, or had we ourselves spoiled brunch by over analysing everything? Are we insecure diners? Alarmed by their escalating disappointment, B&F sought confirmation from a pair of fellow diners. This pair had never been to Harlem Cafe before and like ourselves had been drawn in by the look of the place. They were happy with their breakfast and happy to return. B&F paused..........they may had been happy but maybe they didn't know better. We've had better times than this and we'll continue in our pursuit of greater nosh and witty waiters.
Free Range Rating: Half a dozen 6/12