Yesterday, I had breakfast at the Lunch Box Café, just off the London Road, Westcliff.
I wouldn’t have known about the Lunch Box Café but for the fact it is next door to the recently opened Off The Streets night shelter, which I have an interest in. In line with a whimsical aspiration to write the Southend guide to breakfast eating places, I decided to check out the establishment, although there was another motive (read on).
I decided to go for the standard all day breakfast. I was served by a charming older lady, took my cup of tea and two newspapers to read, and waited for breakfast. The food came just after reading my papers, which didn’t take long. The breakfast was fairly standard and nicely cooked, and my bugbear (sausages) were better than average. I enjoyed my meal, which cost just under a fiver, including the tea. For not much more I could have doubled up on egg, bacon and sausages, but that would have blown me out. Since the offering included refillable tea, I had a refill (one of my grumpy old man complaints is because the tea generally arrives with order, by the time breakfast comes the tea is drunk, so refillable is good).
Since it was getting near to midday the café was beginning to fill up and it was clear with taking orders, including those made over the phone, the staff was busy. Items on the lunch time menu looked tempting both on paper and when seen as served and would be worth checking out for another time. The café reminds me of that which was once associated with the archetypal “working man’s café”, which was no problem for me as it added to the atmosphere. The ambience and atmosphere was passable and the value was very good, although I didn’t get to talk to the staff as I had hoped.
Which brings me to my hidden motive… My spies have suggested that one of the main objectors to there being a night shelter next door to the café was the café owners. I don’t know the details but can understand that having a shelter next door might worry the owners as they could take the view it might detrimentally affect their business (although my sense was the café was popular irrespective and it had a loyal customer base). Moreover, my spies also tell me there have been very few problems caused by night shelter guests and other homeless. Besides trying out a new breakfast place, I wanted to check out the people, and maybe act as a peace maker.
Discussion with staff about life and their neighbours, if there is to be one, will have to wait for another time, but in the meantime I rate the café favourably and can recommend it to others, especially if they don’t mind a bit of rough and like refillable tea, all of which amounts to very good value for money for what one is paying for.