The Grand Cafe in The Royal Exchange
Often, when between meetings in the City, Agent Triple P needs somewhere for a nice cup of tea or, occasionally, breakfast. An ideal location is the Grand Cafe in the courtyard at the Royal Exchange, which is a far preferable venue to all the American-style coffee shops that now infest the area. The Grand Cafe does quite good tea and an excellent cooked breakfast. There are enough seats so that, except late at lunchtime, you can almost always find a table.
As evening approaches it becomes less the haunt of City types and more a meeting place for often very attractive young women which provides another very good reason to linger from tea time to champagne time. This takes place from around five pm as you can, of course, legitimately drink Champagne at a slightly earlier time than wine in the evening.
Other than the cafe itself there is a useful slection of top level jewellers if you need a quick gift for a young lady later in the evening. Tiffany, Boodles, De Beers, Bulgari, Gucci, Omega and diamond shop Wint and Kidd (named after the villains in Diamonds are Forever). Outside, on the street side of the building, are the, far more frequented by Agent Triple P, Mont Blanc and Agent Provocateur shops
There is only one problem with the cafe: it is a Conran run establishment and like all Conran restaurants the service is diabolical. Not rude or sullen (not usually), which you sometimes get in other Conran establishments, just hopelessly slow and inefficient. Triple P was been interviewed by a journalist there the day before yesterday and his tea was so slow in arriving (they had run out of teapots!) that they did at least provide it for free. Yesterday, we ordered some light food with our tea and they forgot about it and had to be reminded. The waitress didn't apologise but just had the view that "yes, you ordered some food, so what? I know. I suppose I better bring it". The staff congregate around the central bar chatting to each other and, unlike good waiters and waitresses, fail to constantly look around when they are on the floor to see if anyone needs anything. They need to realise that many people there are on tight timetables and when they need their bill they need their bill now, not in twenty minutes time. Part of the problem, of course is that the staff consist of an ever rotating group of Plodni Splodnis from Eastern Europe who are never there long enough to care about the job. Oh well, it won't stop us going there as it is one of the nicest places to have tea in London but lets hope they get a new supervisor soon who does a better job than the current one (who looks like a Nazi death camp commandant).