Though no part of Soho can really be considered ‘off the beaten path’, stumbling upon Damson & Co. felt like a little reward for going down the vaguely-less-trafficked Brewer Street, a short walk away from the 100 other breakfast spots of Soho and with approximately 10% fewer people. It’s a small place that’s easy to overlook with a couple of tables and booths inside, and a bar for the losers who turn up too late and have to sit there like Depression-era dustbowl miners, all lined up on stools with their elbows touching.
Damson & Co. is an attractive restaurant, dimly-lit, cool, lots of wood and charming crockery, but the small size also makes it a risky proposition for the likes of me, easily irritated by minor things, distracted and unsettled by piercing or booming voices. As a mid-morning coffee shop I’ve found it to be perfect, so long as everyone there is also reading or quietly tapping away at a laptop. If someone’s using their outdoor voice or the music is on too loud, however, the place doesn’t work for me at all; my most recent visit was spoilt by the in-restaurant stereo pumping out some godawful mixtape at too high a volume for such an early time, all Nirvana and Nickelback and other blonde grunge bands that sound as if the lead singer is gamely trying to sing through their own constipation.
The impression I have of Damson is that they’re not quite sure what their thing is yet. Their website’s perpetually ‘coming soon’ and the breakfast menu is different every time I’ve been in, sometimes printed, other times handwritten with things hurriedly crossed-out, and it’s been an even split between hit and miss. The Eggs Royale I had once was great, a couple of salmon roe on each egg a nice touch, but more recently the “Garlic mushrooms and Ogleshield cheese on toast” was a bust: a single slice of sourdough smaller than my hand topped with a couple of sliced mushrooms and only the vaguest hint of cheese. Four bites later I was idly thinking about lunch.
Damson & Co. is a nice little place, but it isn’t for leisurely filling up on a 2,000 calorie Full English before settling in for a read of the newspaper. The coffee is great, the smoothies and juices pretty good if you like that sort of thing, but the food tends toward the small. It’s a good option if you happen to be going past and want a drink and a small bite, but probably not worth making a special trip for.