I was at the South Bank killing time before going to see Notorious and thought to meet up at the NFT bar (as it’s still known in my head if not in reality) and grab some meat’n’cheese or similar to keep hunger at bay.* But as I was early for my rendezvous I thought I’d get a G&T and cool down while I read my book. Well, that’s what I thought I’d do.
It was late afternoon, before the office crowd had escaped their cubicles and so trade was leisurely at the bar. As I got to the counter one guy was dealing with a family of four while the other member of staff was staring into space. I stood to the left of the family and looked at her. She glanced my way and then carried on chewing imaginary gum. I fixed her with a laser-like beam. No reaction.
Just about to say something a feller rocked up the other side of the family and she served him immediately. This was starting to feel personal. As the other customers took away their drinks and the barman turned to chopping up limes or somesuch I commented in a neutral voice to the barmaid that I’d been next at the bar.
‘Yes, but the till is over here.’
‘And that makes a difference?’
‘Yes, you have to order at the till, you didn’t come to the right place.’
‘I thought it was the job of bar staff to serve the customer rather than the other way round.’
‘No, you have to order at the till.’
‘I have to guess that?’
‘It’s what we do here’
Or in other words, ‘NO SOUP FOR YOU!’
I retired to the other side of Waterloo Bridge and picked up an excellent G&T in the Lyceum Tavern and calmed down over a chapter of Cyril Hall. But after twenty plus years of going to the bar at the NFT (hell, I even proposed to my wife in there in one of its former incarnations!) I’ll not be back again.
*Despite the feelings expressed in the rest of this post the NFT remains a pleasure to visit. To see Notorious with Bergman and Grant at their best in the plush surroundings of NFT1 was one of the highlights of my summer.
To see where else I’ve eaten (or now haven’t) in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).