What a lovely, sunny, jaunty little cafe this is, bang slap in the middle of Hyde Park and opposite the eponymous pub.
The decor is wonderfully bright and uplifting. As you enter, on the left, are two shelves which appear to be made entirely of candle wax. The thing is so big it actually has its own geography.
A quick enquiry reveals said shelves have taken a number of years to create, as the owners keep putting candles atop the kaleidoscopic lava-like mound, allowing more wax to drip down, forming a multitude of valleys, rivers and other features. It makes for a quirky, colourful feature all the same.
I was there on business, of course, accompanied on this occasion by the missus and our two lovely children, who are now six and eight and consequently cannot keep still for more than 30 seconds without a) getting up to walk around to where we are, b) screaming something at the top of their lungs, c) falling out with each other or d) a combination of both a), b) and c). Mostly (annoyingly) it’s the latter.
One of the other things we noticed about this cafe was to do with its furniture, in particular the chairs, which are great big heavy wooden things which feel like they are made of iron. They are seriously heavy.
But upon sitting down, we realised why, as they have a kind of double-seat, the top one (also being attached to the back of the chair) of which rotates completely around.
This proved to be a god-send as it kept the little ones entertained and thereby avoided the aforementioned misgivings a), b), c) and d).
The menu here is full of wonderful, romantic sounding dishes: French bread pizza, lots of pasta, falafel, koftas and paninis.
We ordered humous to start (£3.95), with pitta bread. Superb dip, with a nice hit of garlic and well seasoned.
I ordered an 8oz gourmet burger (£6.50). It came with chips and salad and was huge, so I was glad I didn’t order the double for £9.90. I even enquired after the recipe and was told it was down to the quality of the meat, plus a few choice herbs and seasoning. Really good burger.
My dining partner went for half a grilled chicken, served with rice (£9.50). Marinated in that old favourite, BBQ sauce, it was great to pick at but was a touch dry beyond the skin. The dish as a whole, however, worked, the rice working well with the chicken.
Coffee here was also great (£1.75), while I went for a Myam Yam smoothie (£3.50), a delicate blend of banana, milk, berries, grapes and strawberries - almost a meal in itself but what a great meal: best milkshake I’ve had in a long time.
Verdict: smashing little city cafe with a strong sense of self and superb food.
La Cafetiere, The Crescent, LS6 2NW