In a small grassy depression directly opposite the Houses of Parliament can be found a small stone tower, which happens to be a 14th century building that is open to the public as a small museum.
Two upper floors go into detail about its many and curious uses throughout the past 650 years, but the ground floor, where you pay to enter is also a small cafe.
Or at least I am sure it used to be.
Popping in recently the chairs and tables are still there, and a sign outside advertises ice creams and snacks, but the only thing I could see on offer were, well, ice-creams and cold drinks in a fridge, or coffee from behind the counter.
OK, I didn’t expect much, but I did expect a sandwich or cake to be available. And at £2.30, the coffee was exceptionally expensive, especially as it was about half the size that one would get from a normal coffee shop.
I like to patronize heritage places, but my wallet isn’t so generous as to pay effectively twice the price as a local Starbucks would have charged.
Still, a warm autumn lunchtime, and there are seats and tables outside, letting a person enjoy the view of Victoria Tower in relative peace and quiet. Hardly anyone entered the old tower as I sat there, and frankly, I can’t really blame them.
It should be a fantastic location for a cafe, but what’s on offer does it an injustice.
It struck me as odd, as turning more of the ground floor over to a proper kitchen space, with more tables and chairs outside could turn this into a really popular place to buy lunch. There aren’t that many sandwich shops in that bit of Westminster, so it could be heaving with customers.
Sadly, at the moment, it’s less a jewel, than cheap paste.
Cost: £2:30 for a small coffee
Stars: 0 out of 5
Date: 10th October 2014
Summary: The setting is sublime, but the facilities practically non-existent. Its the worst of 1970s heritage shops in the heart of one of the busiest places in London.