Over on Bedford Street in the West End yesterday, there was a serious problem.
That problem was in Tesco, and it had a tail.
Several hundred really quite mucky tails, in fact, if the sign on the door was anything to go by:
Around the sign stood a group of baffled, slightly disgusted workers on their lunch break; their faces desperately trying to recall the last time they got food from the supermarket, and whether it had any unexpected “pepper” garnish.
One of those people was a particularly disappointed man; his face showing signs of exertion from so spectacularly missing the point.
“But when is it going to open again?” he asked me, searching my vaguely amused face for the answer. “It says when it closed and what’s wrong, but not when it will re-open!”
Mice aside, it’s clear that the workers of Covent Garden are facing a dilemma. It’s like the song said, “Now that we found mice, what are we gonna do…for luun-ch?”
Well, fear not. Je suis on hand with three ideas for places near Covent Garden where you can get food and – most importantly in your hour of blessed office freedom – a side of friendly conversation from the staff on your lunch break.
1. Chipotle, Charing Cross Road [map]
Burritos. ‘Nuff said. Don’t be put off by the queue which often reaches out the door – it goes down quickly and these babies are worth the wait. Benito’s Hat is closer on New Row, and the staff are friendly there too, but to be honest it rates lower in my Burrito League. Yes, I’ve got a league. No, you can’t see it.
2. EAT, Bedford Street [map]
I know what you’re thinking, EAT? Really? There are fifty million branches of EAT around London (official figure), so you’d be forgiven for passing this one off as just another bloody generic food chain. But the one on Bedford Street is worth a visit purely because I reckon it has the friendliest staff in the entire world. Smiley, happy, chatty and always on hand with a quip about the weather, and a fork for when you get bored of spearing your vegetable dumplings with chopsticks.
3. Checkers Sandwich Bar, Bedford Street [map]
There’s always a queue out the door during lunchtime at this place, even though there are about five other places alongside that serve the exact same thing. And do you know why there’s a queue out the door? Because it’s staffed by nice, polite, friendly people who make a blummin’ brilliant toasted ciabatta sandwich (and other stuff), and you get free soup with it. I’ve yet to pin down the slightly ambiguous flavour of the soup, but it’s the thought that counts.
So there you have it. Three places to get food while you’re waiting for the country’s biggest supermarket chain to sort out its hygiene. Enjoy.