One day. One day it WILL happen. Oh yes. It will. One day, I will make my occasional pilgrimage to the Hammersmith Cafe and NOT have the Yellow Curry.
Right. History. Back in the day, in my first "proper" media job at the late, lamented Footloose Magazine (sniff, sob), we were based in a little office overlooking King Street. And for lunch, I'd wander up and down the road to the assorted snacky places between the Tube and Dimes Place. While there were a lot of predictable chains, it's not actually a bad stretch for food (and getting better all the time) and so lunches were generally alright.
Somehow, though, I missed the Hammersmith Cafe. Admittedly, if you just peered up little side street it's on, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a humble greasy spoon. And, indeed, it is. As a greasy spoon, it's actually pretty good but the real reason for a visit is the Thai food. In the evening, it opens as a BYOB Thai restaurant but at lunchtimes, they offer(ed) a more limited range of dishes and a few daily specials.
I only discovered this when Alex, now a good mate, joined the company. He got very excited one Thursday. and when asked why explained it was Yellow Curry Soup Day. And that, you see, was the start of an ongoing love affair with cheap and cheerful Thai food.
Back then, it was £3.50 for a main course. The Yellow Curry Soup was the Thursday special - and the spoiler of many a shirt as me, noodles and Yellow Curry do not mix. But it was worth the laundry bills. Even better, Chicken Yellow Curry was one of the four or five regular dishes they offered and it didn't take long until I was an addict.
These days, it's a a bit of a trek to the Hammersmith Cafe but it's worth the commute and it's also a good excuse to grab lunch with my editor at the Irish Post. The prices have gone up - it's now about a fiver for a main course - but the menu has been extended, the Yellow Curry Soup is now available to stain shirts five days a week and they've even started doing starters like these gorgeous pork and prawn dumplings.
That little lot set me back about three quid.
And then there's the Yellow Curry soup, of course...
Admittedly I didn't order that. I've never mastered the art of eating it (like Mrs L says, for someone who eats out for a living, I'm not very good at it) so instead I was going to try one of the excellent stir fries. Or the special of the day with chicken and basil and chilli. Or maybe a Red Curry. And, of course, I had the Chicken Yellow Curry. Fiery, deep, rich... oh it's just gorgeous and a trip down memory lane to the first job I adored. It's not the prettiest of dishes so no photo. But if you're ever in that neck of West London, I doubt you'll spend a better fiver this year.