>… this gloomy little place serves the real thing, cooked up by an elderly Italian hiding behind a Cimbali coffee machine perhaps as old as he is. Great chips, too. A hot little mound of golden matchsticks to crunch while you peruse the slightly alarming mural. This is the Lorelei, perhaps the last of the 50s coffee-bar-cum-restaurants Soho used to be famous for. The outside is painted as the Italain tricolore, and the inside looks like a cross between church hall and alpine hut. It still retains its original formica tables and vinyl banquettes. The Lorelei is always quiet – I’ve never seen it full. In fact, the staff always seem surprised when anyone walks through the door. Occasionally, someone will stop and glance at the menu in the window then hurry on somewhere else. More fool them.
It’s almost comically unmodernised – If you need the loo, it’s in a brick outhouse down the yard. Since the demise of the New Piccadilly (unchanged since 1951) last year, we’ve been coming to the Lorelei for our carbohydrate requirements. The atmosphere at the ‘Picc’ was something else – you always felt like you were in a film – but to be fair, the food was rubbish. At the Lorelei the food is great, but there is no atmosphere – you have to bring your own, which is fine by me.