Alfie’s is a famous antiques emporium in Marylebone. Like others of its ilk, its sales floors are divided into small to tiny individual stalls run by independent traders. It’s the sort of place where you can wander for hours looking at all the beautiful, exotic and quirky objects that go by the collective name “antiques”. Unlike others of its ilk, however, Alfie’s has a feature that brings us back there again and again, the rooftop cafe.
You get to the cafe either by climbing the stairs to the second floor or by taking the tiny lift and then walking down a flight of carpeted stairs. As cafes go, it’s a good one and as cafes in shops and antique markets go, it’s very good indeed. You can sit either in the clean, well-lit interior where you can watch the cooks and waitresses going about their business or on the rooftop terrace. We love to go on the terrace in fine weather. The view may be hemmed in by buildings but it’s still a view and gives you a delightful sensation of open sky.
Unfortunately, Alfie’s is closed on Sunday and Sunday is our best day for going further afield for breakfast but we managed to go there yesterday (Saturday). The weather was too cold to sit outside but we got a table new a window. With the sun shining on me it was almost as good as being outside on a warm day. We had a vegetarian breakfast each (well, it was only 11 a.m.). Toast and tea or coffee are included in the price and we had orange juice each as extras. Total cost for both of us: £11.
The cafe was quite busy and one of the things you can do is watch your fellow customers, try to work out who or what they are and note their funny little mannerisms. There were the Bright Young Couple, the Shopping Party and the Solitary Reader, among others. One of the quaint features of the place is that the pepper and salt shakers, in pale wood, look identical. I always shake one of them onto my hand to see which it is but yesterday I learnt the trick: each has a transparent bung in the bottom for filling. This allows you to see the colour of the contents.
Near Alfie’s is Church Street Market, which on a Saturday is very crowded and lively. The shops and cafes along Church Street are busy too. It’s all very colourful. The street leads onto Edgware Road and buses that will take us home or set us on our way to other adventures.