21 March 2009

Fast Food, Mayfair-style

Walking along Brook Street this afternoon, I happened on a little cafe called Napket, which I would have ignored had the subtitle not declared, in a very tongue-in-cheek manner, "snob food." And yes, for those who pass on Pret and say, "eww" to Eat, Napket is a "cafe boutique" (sandwicheria/purveyor of caffeine) for people who feel at home "picking up a few things" in the nearby shops of Bond Street (and I don't mean shoplifting). For people who think that they might catch something nasty from the perch-worthy window seats even at the relatively upmarket Apostrophe, Napket will certainly be a refreshing change--the bar-style window seats all have an iPod (presumably laden with cooler-than-thou choons) for you to listen to while you nibble on your homemade fusili bolognese (£5.60 for a posh-looking pot, if you eat in) and sip your gourmet cappuccino (skinny or soy, of course)--even the takeaway coffee cups look smart: black background with the Napket logo (which is reminiscent of a very trendy Parisian bar); so smart, in fact, that on the website, they show it off with a fishnet- and high-heel clad foot casually crushing the lid.

I didn't have time to stop for coffee or test the food (I wasn't inclined to pay £2 for a pot containing about 11 grapes, although some of the ciabatta sandwiches looked good and post-Lent, I will definitely be tempted by the Nutella poundcake) but it seemed like a pleasant enough place to spend 30 minutes over a relatively cheap sandwich- or salad-based lunch--certainly much nicer to the Pret a Manger, only a few blocks north on Oxford Street, especially on a Saturday afternoon. They also do lunchtime platters, ranging from "affordable luxury" (£30 for ciabattas and wraps for six people!), to "extremely healthy" (salads!), to "delicate darlings" (mini-ciabattas for ladies-wot-"lunch"-but-don't-eat-more-than-two-bites, although I'm not sure what these ladies would do with the brownies that come on the platter; £60 also seems like a lot of money for 6-9 of these ladies to not eat).

Of course, it's the perfect time to open a luxury sandwicheria "cafe boutique" chain, if you've got the money to burn. Perhaps all of those ladies who would formerly do a sweep of all of the designer stores on Bond Street now can't afford such reckless shopping but still want to feel special--to treat themselves with a little, reasonably priced luxury. In the same way that sales of makeup and accessories often go up during times of economic woe, sipping your cappuccino in a more glamorous establishment would feel like much more of a treat than a trip to Costa. Equally, the "designer" takeaway coffee cups look a lot more special than most others you see--in the same way it used to be cool to be spotted with a Starbucks cup, maybe Napket's cups will be the new accessory to be paired with your Mulberry bag and your Christian Louboutin heels. 

I assume the name is derived from the "Nap" of napkin plus the suffix -et (as in -ette) meaning "little or cute," although perhaps dinette wasn't quite their inspiration, nor, perhaps leatherette. In any case, good luck Little Napkin; I look forward to sampling your overpriced, playfully snobbish and uber-luxurious luncheon fodder in the near future.

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