Very recently my husband had the grave misfortune of taking my young daughter to breakfast at Partridges of Sloane Street – or more accurately Chelsea given the main store is now just off the Kings Road. He has been visiting these local general grocers with their more recently added café since the 1960s, and putting to the side a noticeable drop in standards over the last couple of years, nothing could have prepared him for such a repugnant experience.
Forget the fact that he asked for an English breakfast whereupon he received something completely different – we all make mistakes. Forget that it took more than 40 minutes for a very simple order to arrive. These things happen and, well, there were customers on one of the other tables! No, what was such a shame was the fact that what eventually did arrive could only be described by him as a mound of utterly cold and gelatinous yellow stuff, which, according to the waitress was supposed to be scrambled eggs. Reportedly, to the side were four pieces of totally uncooked and un-browned bread that was officiously described as “toast”! On picking up a slice, he discovered that the bread was utterly stale and that it should have been thrown away days ago.
Sadly, this tip of the iceberg experience highlights a more troubling fact about this once proud business. Having been granted the branding advantage of a Royal Warrant, one suspects that Partridges is not only resting on past glories but that it now appears to be largely devoid of any effective quality control. For what emerged from the kitchen was symptomatic of a business that is no longer worthy of a Royal Warrant. Instead, it is becoming an embarrassment to London and anyone concerned with the very basics of quality food.