[Mrs M's chrysanthemums at Dawson Flowers]
Lamb's Conduit Street is the kind of street where you'd expect to see a modern-day Mrs Miniver buying her chrysanthemums (see the opening chapter, one of the most perfect pieces of writing and scene-setting), meeting her friends for coffee at Tutti's or tapas at Cigala, buying her books at Persephone, collecting some cheese to take home from La Gourmandina, and picking little gifts (diaries, of course) from Darkroom. She would buy clothes for Clem (husband) and Vin (son) from one of the extremely stylish menswear shops that have recently opened, and she could buy gifts for the hostesses of the many weekend house-parties she and Clem go to from Ben Pentreath.
I'm not so sure she would have a pint in the wonderfully preserved Lamb pub or knock back the Chardonnay, Bridget Jones-style, in Vats wine bar which has been there forever (I used to go when I was a marketing girl-about-town) and is still as atmospheric as ever, but I do like to think that she would appreciate and enjoy Sid's café which is right next door to Persephone Books and a very special place.
Sid's is a rarity in London: a long-established, authentic, unpretentious, family-run local café with character. It is always packed and everyone squashes in with great good humour, it's always noisy so you raise your voice and add to the volume, the service is always fast but there's enough time for a quick chat with the regulars, and its friendliness is natural and not of the forced corporate variety. It serves fresh food in portions that fill you up at very good prices, and there is 'a high quality condiment placement' (as Russell Davies would say) on every table. I hesitate to call it a greasy spoon because it lacks the grease and the grime, but in some ways it is of that ilk, down-to-earth and unironic, and it does offer a fine full English breakfast. In summer you can sit outside (although I see they now have outdoor heaters for all year round) and watch Lamb's Conduit Street acting as a very interesting conduit for modern Mrs Minivers, book-lovers, snappy dressers, and classic café aficionados.
I shall be next door to Sid's at Persephone Books from 10am to 8pm on December 12th for the annual Christmas Open Day which is always a lovely event (more from last year here). I'm not quite sure what I'll be taking with me just yet, but I know I'll be having lunch at Sid's. It's a date I look forward to because I always come away having met and talked to so many nice, interesting people, and enjoyed a Sid's salad or sandwich. Do come.