Cafe Society: The good Shepherd snack-bar

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The glossy bear-pit of Shepherd Market, home of dismal pubs and pricey eateries, also contains Sofra Cafe, a divine snack-bar. Serena Mackesy paid a visit

Shepherd Market is an area of glossy antique shops and relatively discreet prostitution: a place that caters to all the expensive indulgences. The market itself consists of a just a fruit stall these days, but this area of dinky little shopfronts continues to thrive on the basis of its position. The problem with Mayfair, unless you're rich, well-dressed or a member of a club, is that, despite the fact that many thousands of people work in the offices scattered through its once-grand houses, there are pitifully few places for a casual rendezvous. The pubs in the area are all, frankly, ghastly - never trust a place that has "smart dress only" on the door - and everywhere else is either open only in daylight or expects drinkers to eat a meal.

Sofra Cafe, on the square itself, next to the Bunch of Grapes pub and opposite Stockleys jewellers, is a little gem from all angles. The takeaway/snack outlet of the grander Sofra restaurant round the corner on Shepherd St, this is where you can go for all those divine snacky things that make up Turkish cuisine, undoubtedly one of the finest in the world. Painted sanitary white all over, the only dash of colour in this tiny place - three tables inside, three out - is a line of blue-patterned tiles that ring the wall at table-height, but the place gives an impression of cosiness and cheer noticeably lacking in the pub next door.

And the choice of things to play with while you while away your time is infinitely greater.

From 8am-11pm, punters can don their hats and gloves and sit at a pavement table fiddling with a sandwich (falafal pounds 2.35, Kofte and Kavurma pounds 2.80), main courses from pounds 3.30-pounds 3.80 or a sludgy cup of Turkish coffee and a selection of baklava which they sell individually from 15p (a little square of Turkish delight) to 60p for a nut-crammed rhombus to make you weep. For people-watching, the position is unbeatable: battered Mayfair old- timers stumbling in and out of boozers, expensive women with expensive carrier bags, adrenalin-driven sharpshooters clutching mobiles, and, from the corner of your eye, the whisk of a 7ft transvestite in a mini-skirt.

Cheap entertainment at its best.

Shepherd Market, London W1

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