Step back in time and take a seat at Regency Cafe, a proper old school caff that’s cheap as chips and all the better for it.
Located in a virtual no man’s land between St James’s Park and Pimlico tubes, Regency Cafe is one of the few eateries in an area filled with mostly flats. Once through the doors, you’ll feel almost immediately as if you’ve stepped back into the 1950s. Red and white checked curtains line the windows, yellow tiles cover the walls and brown plastic chairs mold to pale yellow Formica tables. Black and white photos of boxers and football teams, framed posters and pictures of the cafe throughout the years provide a bit of decoration, but overall it’s a very dressed down, come as you are environment.
To order, queue up along the counter, pay for your food and take a seat with your drink. Keep an ear open whilst you wait because when your food’s ready, they’ll call – loudly – from the counter, and you go and pick it up yourself, armed with paper napkins to protect your fingers from the hot plate. Although Regency Cafe is a very no-frills place, staff manage to keep things moving along speedily whilst still finding time to banter with first-timers and regulars, who seem to consist everyone from groups of locals popping in for tea and a chat to builders scarfing down breakfasts.
Although there are no real surprises on the menu, practically everything is under a fiver and portions are large. Breakfasts are popular, and for £5 you get eggs, bacon, sausage, beans or tomatoes, toast and tea or coffee, plus extras like black pudding, bubble and squeak and hashbrowns for another 90p. Pies and pasties (with chips and beans on the side) are £3.70, whilst jacket potatoes, salads, sandwiches and fish and chips are also available. Burgers (in a 4oz version for £2.10 or a 6oz version for £3.30) are meaty but not too thick, and come smothered with sauteed onions. Chips are £1.50 extra, but you get an enormous mountain for them and they’re crisp on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside. Food comes out as it’s cooked, so you might have to wait a bit longer than the rest of your group.
No alcohol, but plenty of soft drinks (75p for a can) as well as some of the cheapest prices for hot drinks in Central London. Tea starts at 60p and you get a large size for 10p more, whilst hot chocolate and coffee are 90p for a regular and £1 for a large. Fitting in with the old school vibe, a small glass of milk is available for 60p and a large for £1.20.
The Last Word
Regency Cafe fast-but-friendly blast from the past where you can get a decent lunch for just a few pounds.