Sunday, 10 January 2010

18. Broadway Cafe Restaurant

126 Cricklewood Broadway, 020 xxxx xxxx

Gourmand writes: In Cricklewood, it isn't hard to find examples of businesses getting it all wrong. There's Lihiniya, the restaurant that's scared of customers, and Cafe Nur, where we weren't even allowed to sit down.

But for me, the Broadway's leading purveyor of inadequacy is the hotel without a name (pictured, just for fun). It's impossible to find it on the internet and if you've got a room there (thanks to some psychic miracle or badly-timed auto breakdown), you can't tell anybody where you're staying. Perhaps it was the first hotel in the world ever, and the name "Hotel" was completely original at the time. Or perhaps it's just rubbish.

Broadway Cafe Restaurant, or to give it its full name displayed on its sign, Broadway Cafe Restaurant Breakfast Lunch Dinner All Day Breakfast (sometimes just called BCRBLDADB by syllable-shy Cricklewodians), is of similar ilk. It's utterly featureless.

I could thumb through a thesaurus all day trying to find words to describe it, but I'd fail because thesauri only contain words with meanings. How could anything be so dull? Was it designed by blind communists? The funeral directors next door looks more exciting. I'm going to give up now because it's simply beneath description.

Inside, a few old codgers were drinking milky tea and listening to the football on the radio. "I've had it up to here with you," they must have screamed at their sagging, nagging wives before truddling out of their Cricklewood griefholes. "I'm going to BCRBLDADB so I can listen to Alan Green on Radio 5 Live in peace!"

As Gormless keenly observed, there are three things almost worth noting: a couple of plastic duck heads kicking around, the worryingly young age of the staff, and a picture of broccoli on the menu when there's no broccoli available to order. Nice try, Gormless, but in my book (although evidently not yours) child labour doesn't win a restaurant bonus points.

Oh yeah, the food. Gormless ate a totally average jacket potato with cheese and I had a distinctly average tuna sandwich. God, this Gullets Over Broadway lark's starting to get depressing.
Gormless writes: Gullets is a nocturnal pursuit. For this cafe we had to break with protocol. It is only open during daylight hours, perhaps because the staff appear to be schoolchildren. The Broadway is a different proposition when lit by the sun. The passers-by, the dirty streets and ugly signage are all too illuminated; no longer can it be imagined as a backdrop to some Suede-style urban romance. It is Cricklewood, it is a bit of a mess.

The cafe has had its interior designed by a surrealist: plastic duck heads pop up from pot plants, incongruous objects are nailed to the wall, and the menu is illustrated with a picture of broccoli you cannot order. If one can orientate oneself after these shocks then a pleasant time can be had. The Sunday afternoon radio was plying football and local aged lads turned up to listen, despite the game being shown on screens nearby. Perhaps they suffered humiliation at Cafe Nur beforehand.

I ordered a jacket potato with cheese. It was similar to the one I enjoyed at Four Seasons, with a more substantial salad. I ate it without incident and it was fine, although, in retrospect, it would have been more interesting if a sprite jumped out and danced across my face. Maybe next time.

Overall score: 10/20
BCRBLDADB is average.