Time never stands still for one famous establishment when it comes to feeding and watering its patrons, whether it's the crack of dawn or the wee small hours. For the past 18 years people from Chelsea and beyond have been flocking to a restaurant that's a hive of activity round the clock.
Situated in the heart of the busy Fulham Road, 24-hour café and diner VQ as it now calls itself, formerly known as Vingt-Quatre, prides itself on serving classic dishes to suit every taste in a relaxed environment for breakfast, lunch or dinner. As well as their legendary all-day (and night) breakfast menu featuring everything from bubble ’n’ squeak to eggs Benedict, diners can choose from an irresistible selection of burgers, salads, pasta, mains and sharing plates. A full late night refreshment licence means they never have to close, and champagne, wine, beer and cocktails are always on tap.
There was already a warm buzz about the place when I visited at peak time for Sunday brunch with the comfy red leather banquette lining the walls at the front of the restaurant filling up quickly. The walls are designed in a cool grey and silver, adding a contemporary edge, and playful colourful art of people in London parks sits well with it. Good use of mirrors opens and lightens up the narrow restaurant space and at the rear there are comfy booths with a view of the busy kitchen.
We kicked off with two Flat White coffees (£2.75) and I can to report they serve a mean cup which was made with love and care. It passed the test with flying colours for my Kiwi partner Fiona, who is rather passionate about her Flat White and did not hesitate going back for a equally good second one. I went for Eggs Benedict (£8.95) which was served with two eggs with perfectly runny free flowing golden yokes over tasty crispy bacon on a lightly toasted muffin and topped with a proper hollandaise sauce – yum, yum. I also had a side of Cumberland sausage, purely for review purposes you understand, which was meaty, well seasoned and like everything else on the plate a quality ingredient.
Fiona was tempted by the omelette (£5.95 plus 95p per filling), which turned out to be a triumph, perfectly cooked light and airy and oozing with stringy Gruyère cheese, bacon and ham.
Our charming waitress who informed us she originated from Yugoslavia, and had worked at VQ since it first opened and was still passionate about her job tried to persuade us to find room for the the VQ Knickerbocker Glory – but we just could not manage it on this visit.
It was interesting to see the mix of ages enjoying this Sunday, a middle aged couple lingering over breakfast with the Sunday papers, a younger crowd having a beer with their full English fry up and mums bringing the kids in for a treat. That is the kind of beauty and appeal of this long standing Fulham Road resident, the way it balances the different dining moods and appeal during a 24 hour cycle from relaxed daytime hangout to late night hot spot so successfully – it does what it says on the tin with regards to its concept.
A second VQ, which opened last year, is based in Great Russell Street, Bloomesbury - a 30 seconds walk from Tottenham Court Road tube station.