50 Marylebone High Street
London W1U 5HN
Close to Harley Street, home to Madgedonna and boasting the second-most ill-pronounced name in London after Holborn (it’s hoe-bun not hol-burn), Marleybone always feels like a treat. Spacious, historic and with some of the grandest architecture in town, this little piece of Westminster may be cute as a button, but it has a problem borne its own perfection.
I arrived for my supper appointment at Café Luc in a spot of bother. En route I’d received a phonecall that required the prompt dispensing of an email. The difficulty was that my phone, whilst big on receiving calls, is small on receiving tinternet. I like that wau else I’d spend any time left for quiet reflection googling my own name whilst simultaneously walking into the path of a bendy bus.
This, though, is a problem when something important comes up. Luckily I’d totally miscalculated how long it would take to get to Café Luc and arrived 20 minutes early. This gave me 20 minutes (or more if I was to test the patience of my dinner date) to find an internet café. But of course They Don’t Have Internet Cafes In Marleybone, Do They? They just have cafés, restaurants and shops that sell gold. Why would they need internet cafes when everyone can afford to have broadband installed in their hair and computers in their fingernails? It’s all affluence and no effluence, if you catch my aroma. I therefore turned up late, sweaty and out of luck. No matter Joan arrived even later than me.
Café Luc is a grand old place at the top of the High Street occupying the site of what used to be the fetchingly-titled veggie joint Eat and Two Veg. I liked it instantly. The waitresses all wore jeans with regulation shirts, lending the place an immediate formal/informal blend. The wood was dark and the linen white. It felt like old, friendly money.
I started with the cucumber gazpacho whilst Joan took on the crab tian. Mine was delicate and refreshing and therefore perfect for a man who’d just been pounding the streets looking for something that didn’t exist. Joan’s crab was marginally less rewarding but still a seven.
The brunt of my appetite was absorbed by a fillet of beef served with chips and a Béarnaise sauce. I requested English mustard and was grateful, it’s cold sharpness bringing out the subtle flavours of the meat. The sauce was toothsome if a tad gloopy. Joan went with the snail pithivier. This was an error of judgment on her part, and possibly on the part of the restaurant. Sorry to say that it didn’t work.
Joan’s main course chagrin was scrubbed mostly from memory by the apple tart followed by the cheese board. I’m no GCSE examiner but I wouldn’t hesitate in giving both top marks. The cheeses in particular an assortment of Sainte-Maure, Stilton and a Livarot were almost worth the trip by themselves.
Café Luc will never be the hippest joint in town. Marleybone is middle-aged at the best of times and you won’t see many young faces in here unless they are with their parents or happen to be independently wealthy. Still, it had considerable charm and was very busy for a Monday.
The bill came to £120 including two large glasses of Chablis. Not cheap, but a most enjoyable experience and certainly somewhere to bring your better third to make them feel special. Just steer clear of the snails, and bring an iPhone.