Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Normally around this time of year I attend a work-related lunchtime event in the West End then beetle off to root around in Cheapo Cheapo Records.
Today, the event over, I thought now would be the time to brave MADD, the mango-based dessert cafe which has sprung up in the spot where once Cheapo stood.
Don't know what it's like at night, or at the weekend, but today (a Tuesday), at around half past one, it was empty. You buy and pay for your order at the counter and they bring it to you. Takeaways are notably cheaper: the mango pudding I settled for (shades of the Two Ronnies' rook restaurant) was about three pounds takeaway and about six pounds to eat in. Anyway, I paid for it, asked for a tea with lemon. No lemon; should have asked for mango, obviously.
And then I went to sit at the back to await my pudding. I went right up to the back, where once the nostalgia CDs lingered. All gone. But you knew that.
Anyway, what I noticed was that (as per the image of riotously happy people, above, from the underscore blog) the seating - low white plastic stools or red plastic benches - was vaguely trendy but clearly not designed to encourage lingering overlong: a kind of upmarket McDonald's, only with non-tokenistic fruit. Oh, and there was muisc, my goodness me yes: Magic Radio. And the song playing? Phil Collins' Another Day in Paradise.
I looked around to see that the area where the vinyl ended up had been partitioned off, and that there were barriers in front of the steps downstairs to where the soul music was (although by way of compensation the next Magic track was Rescue Me, Chess Records' attempt to do a Motown). So the seating area was fairly limited which suggests, along with the pricing, that they are focusing more on the takeaway side of things.
At some point my mango pudding and cup of tea - sans limon - arrived (unless that's French for "lime"; I can't remember). The tea was in a cardboard cup, even though I was a sit-in customer, and didn't look all that appealing. The pudding was fine, well laid out, but pretty small, and vanished almost immediately. Having further tasks to complete, I didn't hang around; luckily the assistant was on her mobile so no need to say anything of any kind. On each table there was a card with a blank space on which you are invited to doodle or write whatever you wish to share with "our community" - but what sort of community is that, exactly? The card addressed customers as Maddam or Maddman, and I wondered what the late Phil would have made of it all. Fuirther down the road, or possibly in Wardour Street, whither I was headed, there was a hummus cafe with two slogans: "Give peas a chance" and "Hummus where the heart is."
Doesn't even make sense.
So I'll go no more a-roving to Rupert Street to eat expensive and non-filling mango-based desseerts. I spent a fair amount of time in HMV Oxford Circus, but everything seemed expensive and there weren't the rewards and sudden excitements of Cheapo.
Oh, and I did see what appeared to be a carrot cake in the counter display at MADD, but I didn't try it. Probably mango-based, anyway.