Saturday lunchtime is an odd service in many restaurants. When I was a commis waiter it was always the precursor to the main event, a sideshow distraction to the full on horror that was a Saturday dinner service. It can be a relaxed, quite affable affair, particularly if your waiter isn't doing a split shift and can go home after he's fed and watered you. It doesn't have the familial histrionics of a Sunday lunch or brunch sitting nor the best foot forward first date sheen of a Thursday night. It does have it's own particular foibles however; it can on occasion, depending on the gaff, be overrun with children and all the attendant horrors that eating in a restaurant with barely toilet trained emotional terrorists and their overwrought handlers in tow can bring. I approve of children in restaurants, but only if they can maintain a decibel threshold below that of a Tornado jet firing up it's afterburners. What is the point in bringing your food fussy, sugared up child to a restaurant in the vain hope he'll turn into Lloyd Grossman over the aperitifs, when you know he'll do nothing but scrunch up his tiny little fists and erupt into a solipsistic fit of range and angst at the first mention of food other than chips? Then again, my one year old god daughter has a more sophisticated palette and better table manners than most allegedly adult diners so I guess it all evens out in the end.
Angels and Gypsies in Camberwell is a curious little space that's been a long time coming. It's taken well over two years to open from when it was first mooted and now it has, it's been getting some pretty good reviews. On this particular Saturday lunchtime it was ticking over with diners, a few well behaved kids (i.e. plugged into ipods and DS's) and the two most inept wait staff I've encountered in a good long while. Actually one was just buzzing with terror at the thought of being asked for anything and the other, more senior member of staff, seemed to have forgotten that he was a waiter at all. Despite the challenges of getting seated and ordering something to drink from the menu that they could physically provide, the lunch menu was good. It's a pretty little collection of nueva cocina and homely classics. Bolhinos of salt cod were light, fragrant and nicely put together, two lamb cutlets were nearly perfect and the Patatas a la Pobre were a nice homespun jag alongside the classier tapas. The stand-out mackerel dish arrived after the waiter had taken our plates away, but was good shared with the one fork we had between us.
There's a good restaurant here crying to get out from under the sub-goth chic (stained glass and church seating), Fawlty Towers stereotypes and terrible name. Someone in the kitchen knows what they are doing and is obviously enjoying doing it. Maybe it was training day or something on this particular Saturday, but they seriously need to sort out the charmless front of house goons. Having said that, the price was seriously right for lunch, even if you factor in all the food they missed off the bill, and I'll be back, for sure.