Saturday 14 March 1998
So it's interesting that prime sites for late-Sunday-afternoon and early evening eating and drinking so often seem to fall within the catchment areas of the more popular churches. Take Patisserie Valerie, whose positioning down the road from the museums and opposite the Brompton Oratory (Catholic) and Holy Trinity Brompton (Sloane evangelist) ensures that you can never get a table without queuing.
It's worth staying, though: this place is far more entertaining than The Antiques Roadshow. The clash of the Christians is never more clearly marked than in here. I have found myself sandwiched between a woman dabbing her lipstick every time she sips her cappuccino, saying "Well, find a new confessor, darling. I'll give you Father Thomas's number. He's marvellous," and, on the other, a thirthysomething man in striped shirt and Oxfords gazing over his croque monsieur and saying "..and I felt the Holy Spirit fill me and I was sooo happy". Left-footers and prods alike seem to have worked up healthy appetites, and, because of the nature of church, everyone looks wonderfully clean and primped.
As an alternative to McDonald's, it's almost a spiritual experience.
Patisserie Valerie, 215 Brompton Rd, SW3 (0171-823 9971)
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