the crypt, london


Old people know good food.

I’m not kidding – go to any place with lots of old people (hospitals/nursing homes excluded) and the food is usually decent or good value. My theory: they’ve been around long enough to recognise the good things in life. Plus they have heaps of spare time. Combined with life experience, they just know what’s good.

When my sister told me we were having lunch in the crypt of a church, I just nodded. My feet were too sore to argue and after trekking from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace to Picadilly, then to Soho, I was pooped.




Down we went into the basement of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. (Sounds familiar? It’s church was the previous home of the bells in the Perth bell tower).

I was in for a surprise – along with a glass entrance and an excellent souvenir shop, the crypt was really modern and buzzing. With lots of senior citizens – a good sign. Talk about unexpected. Actually, I had no idea what to expect when faced with eating in a church crypt… the words dark and dank come to mind.

The centuries old vaulted ceiling, juxtaposed with the modern cafeteria gives the crypt a rather utilitarian look. Far removed from thoughts of bodies, relics and saints. Looking down at the floor, there’s no escaping we are eating in a crypt.





In the cafe there’s an emphasis on British food. Produce sourced from local and UK growers are transformed by the onsite kitchen. Fixed price meals to suit every appetite are available for hot meals, cold meals and desserts. Though reminiscent of IKEA, the food here is homely and honest. There’s a huge range of salads, two soups of the day and hot dishes, spanning from stews to pies. Keeping with the homegrown theme, only local drinks line the fridges, so you can have a 100% British meal.

Besides the providing local food at affordable prices, the church’s cafe is a hip and happening place – lunch time and dinner time concerts are commonplace, Sundays are for roasts – and at night, dinners are by spooky candlelight.



Even though we came in from the heatwave, I couldn’t resist having the cream of broccoli soup with a pumpkin seed bun. It was quite good – creamy, smooth and full of broccoli, but my sister had to warn me not to finish it, as we had high tea booked that afternoon. My sister had the apple and rhubarb crumble – the crumble was good – but the custard was amazing. Pale yellow and very runny (quite ordinary looking really) the custard was divine. Paired with the crackle of the sugary crumble topping, the sweet custard was silky and sweet with a hint of vanilla.

I was also warned not to finish that, too. Sisters are so evil.

Unfortunately there is no rest for the wicked and we had to leave in a hurry if we wanted to arrive in Mayfair in time (or fashionably late).  Incidentally, the afternoon tea here is great value – a scone, cakes, clotted cream and tea all for £5.75.

Jazz nights, candlelights and bargain afternoon teas – the elderly know what’s hip and happening! We make a mental note to return one day as we bid goodbye to the crypt and its citizens (alive or dead) and ascended the stairs to the modern world.





Cafe in the Crypt, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ United Kingdom
T: 020 7766 1158

Mon – Wed 8am – 8pm
Thu – Sat 8am – 9pm
Sun 11am – 6pm

– M




ps. The St. Martin-in-the-Fields souvenir shop is rather good. They sell a quirky range of British (not China) made products – all lovely to take home. So, skip the tacky street stalls and come here to buy the cutest tea cosies, local jams and celtic tshirts. They have an online store too, just in case you ran out of luggage space.

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  1. Jess

    What an amazing place to have lunch! :)

  2. mei

    Jess – Amazing but spooky… right up your alley =P

  3. Vivienne

    Don’t finish that custard!!

  4. mei

    Vivienne – <— evil sister.

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