Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Rapha: The Cafe for the 2012 Mid-Life Crisis

Once upon a time, men having a mid-life crisis would buy penis extensions - sports cars and motorbikes, firing up the A1 wearing a leather jacket, listening to 'Born to be Wild' and cursing the fact they didn't get to shag more girls in their twenties.

Now however, things are different. What with it being the 21st century and all, with middle aged men routinely doing such things as changing nappies, cooking at home and using moisturiser, they buy bicycles.

Not just any bicycles though, bikes made of such things as carbon fibre that cost more than their child's university fees. These are the new (lightweight) penis extensions of 2012. Stiffness is paramount apparently, as is lots of gears for smooth transmission of power (good in an older man), and hardness (even better) in the tyres. 

To ride on these bikes, they need special 'kit' of course, made of very expensive merino wool (presumably the bits leftover from what China doesn't want) and 'technical fibres' (?) which carefully blend dour hi-tech seriousness with romantic retro nostalgia. It's the ageing intellectual hipster version of wearing a 1966 England shirt. Think grainy black and white pictures of grizzling old farts riding their bicycles up mountains. Fifty something AA Gill weekend wear.  

Now, in order to buy this they need a brand. No good popping down to Sports Direct and buying some chavvy Adidas kit. No no no, these guys are more used to shopping in Paul Smith. What they need is a brand finely tuned to their refined tastes, something that hides their insecurities and presents them as the taste conscious sexy active man they spent years trying to convince their wives they were before she gave up being sexy herself and started wearing flat shoes. 

Thankfully they have a brand. This brand is Rapha.

Rapha this year opened a little shop in Brewer Street, stocking all the gear a neo-metrosexual, badger-greying, sensitive new old-man bicycling boy could want. Scented bum cream, man-bags, little hats that look like their old public school caps, the lot. And as is the fashion nowadays, they have put in a little cafe. I mean, who can go more than two minutes these days without needing to stop for an artisan coffee?

So, on reading a few blogs and tweets (such as Faerietale Foodie's post and The Perfect Trough's post), and being not far from the apex of SWOHO ('South-west Soho' - yes, I've heard it referred to as that) Quadrant 3, where of course I do all my shopping in Wholefoods with the sprightly Californians buying colon-cleaning kits,  I decided to pop in and see what it was all about.

Well, the staff are very friendly, the owners seem to have read the current 'how to open an urban artisan cafe' (don't worry, my post is coming) checklist, plenty of wacky, carefree girls and gentle beardy menfolk who are keen to help. I asked what was good and had a beef brioche bun thing, which sounded great but turned out to be a brioche (what else?) bun alright, with a tiny smear of some kind of beef stew inside it. It was suggested to be served with ketchup, (which I think may have been Wilkin & Sons, which everyone knows tastes like Heinz that's been left out all night). I was glad of the posh ketchup, as once I'd finished the measly smear of beef gravy I needed something to moisten the bread. A cup of tea helped (I nearly nicked the cool cup and saucer, and at £2.50 I wouldn't have felt guilty). I probably ordered the wrong thing and everyone will tell me I should have had the nice looking focaccia type sandwiches or the 'dunking biscuit' instead, but I was going on recommendation by the staff! 

They are obviously very serious about coffee (as everyone seems to be these days, Australian accent or not) and offer only espresso which for the 'special' at £3 for a single shot is quite a lot in my opinion. I mean, it's only a few coffee beans, isn't it? How expensive are they? And studying the menu, a double is £3.50 (not £6? I don't get that, are we saying it costs £3 to construct it?) and milk is a further 50p, making a cup of coffee potentially £4.

Anyway it's so bourgeois to be moaning about the price. Pah! You can't put a price on quality, integrity, design, location etc right? And no-one who comes into Rapha gives a shit about prices, especially when you've just spent £200 on some paunch-reducing lycra cycling shorts and titanium hair-loss cream.

Food tastiness & value for money 4/10
Coffee seriousness 9/10
Staff quirkiness 8/10
AA Gill's Christmas stocking suitability 9/10
85 Brewer Street, London W1F 9ZN020 7494 9831

Rapha Cycle Club on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. That's a priceless piece of writing :-) Made me laugh out loud and get funny looks on the train!

    I can't decide if I would like it or not, but I'm going to have to go find out :-)




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