One lunchtime, I stepped off from No.55 bus at Great Titchfield Street near Oxford Circus and all the sudden felt a pang of hunger. I was on the way to my hairdresser’s and had a half un hour to kill until my appointment. Where should I go? What do I want to eat?
Then, a review of the Photographer Gallery done by one of my favourite bloggers, London Unveiled popped into my head. Yes, they have a cafe there!
The gallery is located at the corner of Ramillies Street and Ramillies Place.
In order to access Ramillies Street from Oxford Street, pedestrians descend a substantial number of steps.
Because of this level change, the tonal landscape around the gallery is significantly calmer than forever busy Oxford Street’s.
The cafe was located on the ground floor with large windows which provided a 180 degree view…
The interior was decidedly monotone like a crisp B+W photograph.
The predecessor of the cafe was on No.5 Great Newport Street near Leicester Square. It was opened in 1980 as an additional gallery space of the existing main gallery on No.8. The cafe was located in the back of the premises and relatively obscure, therefore, it was a little like a handy hideaway amongst the hustle & bustle of the West End.
Behind the entrance, there was a reception, a staircase to their office and a narrowish corridor leading up to the cafe. The cafe sported a double-height ceiling with translucent glazing which flooded the space with light and created an intimate & uplifting atmosphere. In the middle of this oblong space, there was a long table with backless benches.
I remember how good-naturely we all behaved when a guest or two wanted to squeeze in with drink & cake in hands. There was definitely a sort of comradely feeling between the guests. The surrounding walls were painted in white and used as exhibition space. While the diners sat at the table, the visitors for exhibition quietly circulated around the gallery. The ambience of the place was so perfect therefore I was understandably gutted when they announced the gallery’s relocation to Ramillies Street in 2008.
At the counter, I found the menu on offer was surprisingly similar to the one from the former cafe’s.
It made me feel much better already…
I ordered tuna panini with sun-dried tomato and skinny latte…
I sat at a counter by the window overlooking Ramillies Street,
The sandwich was toasted to perfection. The filling was generous and the bread was crisp on outside and fluffy in inside.
It was a fleeting visit for a quick bite at the cafe only.
Next time, I shall definitely allow much longer time to spend at this unique institution…