Sunday, 7 September 2008

The World Cafe

I woke up this morning craving The World Cafe. A long deceased corner restaurant in West Hampstead that became our lounge (as I lived in our official one) from '99 - 2001. It had a long menu and a short clientele, thus it shut up shop shortly after we all moved house - I think my flatmates and I had kept it afloat. The staff were a mixture of fiery Italian chefs and Australian travellers. One boy - aptly named Angel - flirted with us all and fluttered his unfairly long lashes to the point that Nikki swore she was in with a chance, despite the fact he clearly preferred the hairier sex.

We would roll in every evening after work and stop for a glass that always became a bottle... or two. The staff would take a break and forget to go back to work. The bored chefs would send us over snacks - ideas they had for a menu that resolutely stayed the same. But Sundays, Sundays were our favourite days to stake our claim as territorial owners of the place - when I would stumble in, still in my PJs with a stack of Sunday papers and a tin of baked beans. The papers were to peruse over a leisurely breakfast - something to mop up the obligatory hangover. The beans because for some odd reason their cooked breakfasts omitted that all important ingredient; the sister restaurant had the same menu - the owner wouldn't add in the beans. So we bought them, brought them and the cook would nod and add them to our plates.

One Xmas we asked to hire the place for a big Xmas lunch - the staff agreed - closing it to the public, ordering in spirits that I'm pretty sure they didn't have a license for and asking us to come up with an Xmas menu. I seem to remember the event ended with dancing on tables and makeshift karaoke. We took it over for Claire and Est's b'day bash - once again banning uninvited guests and drinking wine that we somehow never paid for. The chefs would hang out at the back door, spilling into the alley from the intense heat of the stamp sized kitchen - offering a joint if we passed by and caught them on one of their eternal breaks. One night I went drinking there - already 3 sheets to the wind and in my jammies - I downed a glass of wine and then realised that it was actually the chef's wedding reception I had crashed...

It was never going to last. But while it did we ate like kings, were served by an Angel and didn't even have to get dressed to dine. I still miss those lazy Sundays...

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