Generally, I try not to get into queues with people who don’t mind they’re in a queue. A queue is an obstacle between you and your destination, and if you don’t mind queuing, you clearly don’t care that much about the destination, in which case why don’t you just fuck off and queue somewhere else where you’re not in everybody’s way? Form a circle outside somewhere and get everyone to step forward once a minute if this is what you’re about.
Queuing for restaurants that don’t take bookings is a pretty hip thing to do in London, and I don’t hold with it; by the time I’m at a restaurant’s doors it’s because I’m hungry, not because I think I might be hungry at a point between 30 and 120 minutes in the future depending on how trendy the restaurant is. This apparently isn’t a problem for fashionable Londoners who see queueing as an opportunity to be seen queueing, to put on their best Burberrys to hang out with their friends in the cold and grey while cars and lorries thunder by. This is a very London thing to do, in that it’s a very New York thing to do and London is forever trying and failing to be as cool as New York.
Granger & Co.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that I tried to go to Granger & Co. in Notting Hill for breakfast and failed, and all it took was one weird encounter with an aggressive Russian and ten minutes spent queuing with people who weren’t so much talking as they were competing over who had the deepest basement extension to tip me over the edge. Fuck Granger & Co. and their exciting breakfast menu of almond milk chia seed pots, bee pollen, ricotta hotcakes, tea smoked salmon and deep fried eggs, and fuck all those tedious semi-wealthy Londoners queueing for breakfast bellinis and jax coco coconut waters. They might not mind queueing for half an hour — they probably look forward to it in fact — but I’m a busy man with places to be.
Dedicated readers may remember my previous miserable Ottolenghi Islington experience; my Ottolenghi Notting Hill experience was better insofar as it was over in about 60 seconds: 10 seconds for a woman to move one seat across on the single, shared table so my friend and I could sit together, 40 seconds to walk into the kitchen trying to find the toilets and being told there weren’t any, and 10 seconds to discover the breakfast menu was nothing but pastries and fruit salad. No customer toilets, Ottolenghi? Nowhere even to wash the Tube filth from my hands before eating a muffin? Not cool. Also not cool is that all of these facts are listed on the desktop website but not the mobile one. Restaurant websites: never not being determinedly useless.
By this point pretty hungry and annoyed, though I imagine still less hungry and annoyed than I’d have been had we stayed with the Junior Oligarchs at Granger & Co., we tried Daylesford, an organic farm and department shop of some kind. That time we got seats straight away AND there were functioning toilets, so we knew we were in a pretty classy joint even though everyone around us was drinking cucumber water and talking in code about yogacise.
There was something weird about the service I couldn’t put my finger on, a disconnect between what we were saying and what the staff were hearing, as if we were placing orders by shouting down a tube. We got more or less what we asked for eventually though the staff seemed as baffled as we were, and the food was…fine, if a little minimalist, with poached eggs huddled together on a slice of toast so small it was like watching the end of Titanic. It was hard to tell whether the food was good because it was good, or because I was just grateful for being fed. Either way, I left having thoughts of lunch elsewhere.