Saturday, 4 February 2017

L'Eto Caffe, Chelsea

You know when you're strolling along the road, browsing in shop windows, and suddenly BAM: you're sitting down with cake and a fork in front of you, inviting you to get stuck in? Let me explain:

Here's a more thorough explanation:

Confronted with a display like that on a drizzly Sunday in January, you'd have gone in too -- and that's how we found ourselves sitting in L'Eto on King's Road in Chelsea, cake and coffee in front of us.

Service was simultaneously brisk and lax, if such a thing is possible. On arrival, we were waved downstairs by one member of staff, only to meet another on the stairs who told us that we should have waited upstairs. Eventually we were seated downstairs, a room which makes up for a lack of natural light with some lovely, if muddled, decor -- country lodge meets city chic, which sums up Chelsea perfectly.

Acoustic covers of pop songs and a gentle buzz of chatter made for a relaxing atmosphere, and we got stuck into the all-important task of choosing our eats.

The menu, extensive and beautifully presented, had one problem; it didn't cover the cake options. Making that crucial decision involved trekking back up the stairs to peruse the display that had tempted us in a few minutes previously -- something that was both a pleasure and a chore.

Decisions made, our order was taken -- between us, we opted for a chocolate and cinnamon cake, and a honey layer cake, a lavender latte (it sounded interesting, and I love a gimmick) and a carrot cake smoothie. The cakes, looking delish, arrived within a few minutes... and our drinks finally followed them, a whole 15 minutes later.

The cakes were everything we'd hoped they would be, and more, although the chocolate one was so rich, it took half an hour to polish off the whole thing -- a half hour I paid for with a mild dose of queasiness on the train home. The lavender coffee, though, did nothing to insinuate it had even been near a sprig of lavender, and felt like a bit of a rip-off at over £5 a cup.

With just the crumbs and dregs left, we paid and made our way up the stairs and across the crowded ground floor restaurant towards the drizzly outside world. It's only as we beat our retreat that we noticed the salad bar -- although such a phrase doesn't do it justice. A resplendent feast of tropical colours laid out beautifully on a sideboard is a more accurate description. The fact that the beautiful plates lay uncovered at adult coughing and sneezing height. Yum.

So, L'Eto: Delicious food, beautifully presented. Underwhelming drinks. Hit and miss service. Risky salad. It's at the top end of what a lot of people would be prepared to pay for cake (£23+ for two cakes, a coffee and a smoothie), but after a long, healthy and broke January, a little treat was called for.

L'Eto, 149 King's Road, Chelsea.

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