An Open Sauce contribution here from Nigel Shardlow (apologies if you've sent me one and I've not posted it yet, I promise to get round to it very soon.) Many thanks Nigel, a textbook contribution.
Becks Sandwich Bar is about halfway up, or halfway down, Red Lion street in Holborn, between Theobalds Road and High Holborn, just round the corner from where I sometimes work. I asked the guys in the office - lovely people, though perhaps a little over-fond of gourmet sandwiches made with Ortiz tuna, buffalo mozarella and pesto - if they had been there, and one of them said, "No, I've always found it too intimidating." I knew what they meant. At lunchtime it's packed with serious people who know exactly what they want, and what they want is typically fried and served with chips and a cup of very strong tea. Tea that's brewed in a pot, not in the cup. Fans of EBCB have nothing to fear here.
The decor is everything you'd expect from a great cafe: eclectic, colourful, no-nonsense. The waiting staff are all very busy today - lots of serious people looking for lunch.
The tea was in front of me a minute after I ordered it: dark, tannic and strangely refreshing. The EBCB arrived four minutes later, in spite of the fact that they were almost full to capacity, as you can see. Plenty of room on the table to spread out the Guardian. It's the Champions League final tonight so everyone's got the paper open at the sports pages, checking the line-ups.
It's worth showing the EBCB close-up: huge slices of delicious, fatty bacon; nimble chips; eggs perfectly combining firm white and runny, intensely yellow yolk; an army of beans mounting an invasion from the right hand side of the large, oval plate. (Oval plates, I'm convinced, were invented for EBCB.)
The condiments stand proud guard in front of the brightly coloured menus. Fearsome-looking little fellas.
When I went up to pay at the end the proprietor was passing two cups of tea to the waiter. "These are for the customers over there", he said. "They are extra strong. Extra strong." I was in awe.