I know there will be some raised eyebrows regarding this. But I definitely would give the label of “art” to antique shops and not just to museums and galleries. After all they are the poor cousin of these institutions. Just as in galleries they sell works created by artists … of the unknown variety. They are also displaying a wide range of crafts … just like the V&A. Maybe that’s one step too far. But still these pieces were (mostly) handcrafted and you can actually discover some affordable treasures in these shops and markets. I’ve got my eye on some champagne glasses.
1. One of my favourites is Alfie’s Antique Market in Mayfair. Here you can find anything from an antique linen press to art deco lights and glass from the 1950’s. I just love meandering through the building and see the rich variety of offers. As every vendor has its own stall, you can find displays which could be found in high-end magazine or cupboards which are just stuffed with all kind of things, which you can rifle through to find your personal treasure.
Alfie’s also has a lovely roof terrace, which is particular great in the summer. It’s not posh and it doesn’t have an amazing view, but it’s a sunny outside spot with a great basic menu. It’s baked potatoes, full English breakfast and burgers all the way … all for a reasonable price.
And you can get cake! Actually great cake! The lemon drizzle was made of amazingly light sponge and was soaked just to the right degree. I also tried the chocolate cake, but wasn’t quite that taken with it. The service is … not really existing. You go to the counter to order your food and they bring it out when its ready. Clearing the tables tales takes some time, so you could sit there for a while … and sometime it attracts the attention of bees so be careful. But then they also don’t rush you out of the door.
Alfie’s Antique Market
Food:★★★★☆ Service: ★★☆☆☆ Ambiance: ★★★☆☆ Overall: ★★★☆☆
2. The second antique place with a great cafe is Christique Antique Centre in Dorking. This little down is overflowing with Antique shops. There is one street (West Street) in town with at least 5 shops in a row. Here you find the polished high-end shops together with the ones that look like they are just one step up from a charity shop. Christique Antique Centre is right in the middle of that range. They are taking up three houses in that particular street and before going into the cafe you can scuttle through the small and large rooms in this maze of a house or houses. I lost my orientation fairly quickly, as it just a confusing array of rooms. Other than in Alfie’s Antique Market you cannot tell where one vendors room ends and the next one starts, as it’s all so well put together.
The cafe is located in smack in the middle of all that and has a minuscule outside space. Whoever looks after this mini garden is a genius, as its overflowing with greenery and feels like a haven from the bustling main street.
Of course we had cake and coffee … even though it was baking hot outside. My friend knew the cake maker and we had to give it a try, just so she could report back her findings. We had Walnut cake and Lemon drizzle. Seems like everyone is always offering these two kinds of cake, with carrot cake being the third choice in most places.
I found my cake a little bit too dry and with not enough cream, but the flavouring was just right. The lemon drizzle was good, but had a little bit of a soggy bottom. Tsk tsk tsk. But It was the end of the day and it could have been that the cakes was much better earlier on. The staff was super nice and the mini garden just great. I know, I know … Dorking is a bit out of town, but there is a great train connection to it from Waterloo and some of the prices (cake as well as antiques) are better then they are in London.
Christique Antique Centre
Food: ★★★☆☆ Service: ★★★★☆ Ambiance:★★★★☆ Overall: ★★★☆☆