The New Piccadilly, Soho
The New Piccadilly
8 Denman St
by Malcolm Eggs
A couple of turnings beyond little aluminium Eros, the New Piccadilly is a Formica-packed icon of countless bygone eras. Adrian Maddox, arch-champion of London’s increasingly endangered postwar Italian cafes, has called it “a place of worship”. Indeed you'd have to be a Mammon-hearted property developer not to adore the vintage pink and gold coffee machine, the chirpy looking stuffed peacock in the big glass tank, the bright twisted neon window sign that says ‘Eats’, or the menu that lives on an enormous white plastic horseshoe. Friendly staff patrol the tables in immaculate uniforms that are part concierge, part asylum warden and many of the clientele resemble Seventies disaster movie extras, except with worse hair. Basically it all looks magnificent, is always appearing in films and magazines, is a living museum of sorts. But as the owner Lorenzo (of the great restaurant-owning Marioni family) has said, “abito non fa il” – the habit doesn’t make the monk. Would the 'Egg Dishes' do justice to the stuffed peacock?
I ordered egg, bacon, chips and beans, partly in homage to that other great cafe scholar Russell Davies, partly because half the other patrons were chewing jubilantly on a variety of coiled crispy bacon that looked to be just the thing. But when it arrived, I was faced with a previously unencountered aberration: undercooked streaky. It was elastic and fatty. Devastated, I was left to seek solace in the eggs, chips and beans which, while being of aptly classical form, were nothing to burst into pig-indifferent song about. On my way to the door, I glowered enviously at someone else’s dusky crimson rashers, dismayed to have received a meal so commonplace in an institution that is so very out-of-the-ordinary.