Tuesday 7 September 2010

Cafe Luc, Marylebone

I may have mentioned before that The Peanut Gallery has a baby which has nothing to do with me. His bike. It's custom made and now has brand new wheels. It appears he is preparing for the Tour de France.  If I had, long ago, instituted a rule that every dollar spent on the bike is to be matched by expenditure on shoes for me, I'd be a very happy woman.

The trouble with having a such a bike is that you can never take it anywhere - or leave it anywhere at least. Many times, we have cycled around town looking for a nice coffee spot where TPG can not only secure his bike nearby, but eyeball it while he is eating, and be within a clear path to a doorway or open window to enable him to leap through the air and pounce in the event that anyone looks sideways at it. Sometimes it's easier just to go home....

So the bike valet service at Cafe Luc is something of a welcome addition to the London cafe scene for our household. After a cycle around the leafy streets of Primrose Hill and Regent's Park, customers can drop off their bikes with the bike valet and eat with the assurance that their pride and joy is safely locked up inside the building.

Apparently, they also offer a shopping valet service if find yourself unable to resist the temptations of the cafe's chic Marylebone High Street location.

Cafe Luc is run by Julie van Oostende and her father, Belgian restaurateur, Luc van Oostende. Despite their Belgian heritage, the menu at Cafe Luc is more broadly Modern European - although there is a Belgian week menu coming up from 20 - 27 September 2010. (Unfortunately there will not be waffles - the first thing TPG checked - although there will be speculoos, vanilla and salted caramel ice-cream which will appease him).

The interior was designed by Stiff and Trevillion (who were behind Le Cafe Anglais' decor) and is something like that of a larger Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, although slightly more corporate. It's a schlick looking brasserie, with muted walls, black wooden tables, chocolate banquettes and lots of mirror action. Eye catching light fittings include amber hand blown glass bulbs from Murano bubbling over the copper bar, and clusters of small black lampshades spaced along the walls. Even the loos are rather dashing.

Open all day from 7am, with a breakfast menu available until noon and a brunch menu available until 6pm, the hearty Full English breakfast (£12) was just what I needed last Sunday afternoon. The yolks of my 2 perfectly poached eggs oozed gloriously onto toasted brown bread, a delicious sausage (unfortunately no-one could tell me where it came from), black pudding, roasted cherry tomatoes, tasty bacon, sauteed mushrooms and baked beans. The baked beans were the only slight let down here - they were fine, but a home made batch would improve things.

Two upright eggs with soldiers (£5.50) were also perfectly cooked, although the smallish serving of toast may not be enough to satisfy you on it's own. I would suggest accompanying this with fruit salad, or the TPG went for pancakes - a dainty stack with maple syrup and berries were excellent (£7.50).

There are healthy options like Greek yoghurt with berries and honey and, while the menu is mostly quite conventional, more offbeat numbers like apple spring rolls with green apple coulis are available.

Juices are freshly squeezed (I had orange, but carrot, apple, pear and grapefruit are also offered) and I enjoyed a spicy, well made Bloody Mary to accompany my Full English. The coffee was fine, although not one to go out of the way for.

Service appeared to be helpful and attentive across the room. There were occasional gaps in product knowledge, but not too much to begrudge them - it's all very casual and friendly.

Cafe Luc is a good option for breakfast with cocktails in style - or one to remember if you're out free wheeling with an obsessive compulsive bike owner.

Cafe Luc, 50 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 5HN (Tel: 020 7258 9878)

Greedy Diva was a guest of Cafe Luc.

Cafe Luc on Urbanspoon


  1. 'Hello, is that Specsavers? Yes hi, it's Hugh Wright here, I think I must need an eye test as I've just read some prices that can't *possibly* be correct...'

    £12 for a full English? And FIVE FIFTY for boiled (is 'upright' an Aussie thing?) eggs? Thank goodness you were 'a guest of Cafe Luc'; would you really have paid £5.50 - over six quid with service - for two eggs, cooked in boiling water for a few minutes, served with not enough toast? I know you better than to think you'd be nice about somewhere just for free tucker, but come on - those prices are *insane*, do admit?

    I can only imagine that the bike/shopping valet service is a cunning ploy to ensure they hold something of value to you, so that they can hock it if you're unable to afford the astronomical bill...

  2. Mr Wright – I have posted your comment from 1976. I assume this is the last time you left the house? Comparing the prices to Providores up the road from C. Luc and your beloved Dean St Townhouse, the prices are the same or less expensive. 2 boiled eggs with soldiers: £5.50 Café Luc, £5.80 Providores (a yr ago), £5.50 DST (where you get the same amount of toast). Full English: £12 Café Luc, £11.80 Providores (but no black pudding), £12.50 DST but ONLY gets you 2 eggs and bacon (not all the other stuff). You’re right – I always tell it how I see it whether I am a guest or paying my way (and have been critical of prices at other places I have been a guest). I think these are typical Marylebone prices for cafes of this nature.

  3. Ho ho. Call me old fashioned but I think *all* those prices are exorbitant, DST included - who I will single out for particular criticism if they're passing off two eggs and bacon as a 'Full' English. As for prices being 'typical' I think sadly you're right and we as consumers must take the blame for that. If we won't pay it, they won't charge it!

  4. I don't want to wade too much into the pricing debate but on an honesty box principle, I'd pay a tenner for that breakfast. Anything more is Marylebone High St tax! I understand Hugh's POV but ultimately 'supply and demand' will dictate what Cafe Luc can get away with charging.

    What I find weird though is that I saw on Tamarind & Thyme that Cafe Luc have a three-course prix fixe menu for £15.50. This seems a lot better value than the breakfast.

  5. Hi Mr Noodles - I'm not sure if you mean you would pay a tenner for all 3 dishes, but I'm not sure where you would find that in central London unless the cafe was sourcing cheap ingredients. Breakfasts with quality/organic ingredients are not cheap unfortunately (the eggs here were organic for instance) - and of course location also plays a role in supply/demand. I go out for breakfast a lot and sometimes end up paying close to a tenner for a coffee, juice and a toasted panini, which will seem ridiculous to some people, but that's the going rate for places that source good eggs, bacon, cheese etc.

    Yes, Cafe Luc do have a 3 course prix fixe menu for £15.50 at lunch or dinner - those sorts of deals often work out the best value at many places.

  6. Having said that this sort of pricing appears to be the norm for this area/quality, I'm all for reducing the cost of my breakfast! Would love to any recommendations for places in Central London serving quality food at a lower cost. Anyone have any tips?

  7. People, I can see both sides here (I am nothing but a text-book Libran) but you need to get a grip. It's not just the food you are paying for. You want to sit in the gorgeous Balthazaar in NY and have the Le Panier and a bowl of coffee? You pay US$30 for it. Businesses have other costs like rent, those free newspapers you get to read, waiters (I could go on and on). Those Murano glass thingoes don't come cheap either. I agree you vote with your feet. My feet are going to keep taking me to Balthazaar. TPG

  8. To clarify, I meant a tenner for the full English!

  9. Mr Noodles - thought you might have! And welcome back to London, by the way!

  10. I had the most delicious meal there recently for £15.50 for three courses - foie gras and duck terrine to start, followed by steak and chips for main and a gorgeous dessert of nutella creme brulle! This has got to be one of the best value dinners I had in a long time.

    I would happily pay £12 for that English breakfast too, it looks amazing.

    Great review Carly, and as honest and well thought out as always!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  11. Did they put the baked beans in a separate bowl? I love it when places do that! Glad the a la carte is still tasty though not as good value!

  12. Thanks Luiz - I am especially intrigued by the Nutella creme brulee - 2 of the best inventions ever, combined.

    Su-Lin - yes, the baked beans were in a separate pot so they don't feature in this photo. Good for pouring over things...!

  13. Your write-up caught my eye because I'd just seen Gourmet Chick's review, too. I hadn't noticed you were a "guest" of Cafe Luc until I read through the comments, and then I went back to read the post and still missed where you disclosed that tidbit. Which is all to say - maybe put that info someplace more obvious?

    The pancakes look pretty excellent, though it seems a meagre stack.

  14. Quite frankly you have missed the most important thing about this review... the bike.

    Please do a post on it (fixed, ss or geared). What custom parts etc.?

    You could rename the blog bikey Diva as well.

    PS you could also ask him to get you a nice No.14BikeCo bike. I nearly converted Jen.

  15. Hi GD - Yes the pricing is steep but as you say it is par for the course in the area and you are paying for the setting, location and not to forget the bike valet! The main attraction of Cafe Luc for me was that you didn't have to wait to get a table for brunch which is sadly all too common in London.

  16. An American in London - I always put the disclaimer at the end on the basis that I think that's where most people put them, but have moved it right under the address which might make it more obvious - it wasn't meant to be hiding! In fact, I used to disclose it in the first couple of paras of the text, until I heard others saying that practice can sound like showing off!

    As for the pancakes, I was almost bracing for disappointment when they first came out (I usually think big 'n ugly is the way all good pancakes should be) but these were excellent.

    Tom - Oh dear. I fear we may have opened the floodgates once TPG latches on to your comment. Gear type? Parts? I can tell you it's grey.

    Gourmet Chick - Agree. The queues are Providores and Lantana are often worth the wait, but I usually can't be bothered.

  17. GD, my bike is not "grey". it's a slight variation on the natural titanium colour of the frame. Jeez.
    Tom, I'm glad to see someone saw the entire point. It's a Serotta, and it sleeps inside. TPG

  18. Pricing issues aside (and my, WHAT a debate!) I find it odd that they serve their breakfasts on such enormous plates, thereby making the meal look a bit measly.

  19. Lizzie - Yes, there probably is a bit of dwarfing going on, and the beans/toast for my full English were served separately. I do like to see my plate piled high.

  20. There's clearly not enough toast with those eggs – I don't think there's even two whole slices. Where are the edge bits that are too big for dipping but useful for balancing wobbly bits of cooked egg white on? Swizz. Light fittings look lovely, though. I'm old enough now to want to go to a restaurant just to check out the furnishings.

  21. Gin and Crumpets - He he - me too. Yes, quite stingy on the toast, wasn't it. I don't like to hold back on the carbs.

  22. TPG - I just explain my bike as a male handbag. Excellent choice of frame. Very jealous.

    I have decided that I need to get a new bike as I live in a different country now. Only fair.


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