One of my first temporary jobs was as a messenger for Terence Conran's firm in Neal Street, Covent Garden. And it was whilst working there that I encountered the wonderful wholefood vegetarian cafe Food for Thought, when they laid out a table for the neighbourhood street party.
When I returned to Covent Garden a few years later to work as a theatrical agent, I often bought my take-away lunch from Food For Thought, and ever since, whenever in London, we've often eaten there. It's also a firm favourite of my son's, and as he says, you always come out feeling that your body is grateful for the nourishment.
It's a tiny premises (not for those who need a lot of personal space when they eat), but it has great charms, which include really fresh, wholesome, tasty salads, quiches, bakes, soups etc at a decent price, and ever cheery staff. There's generally a queue, but somehow you always get a place once you've bought your food at the counter. The diners eat at wooden tables in the basement, surrounded by multi-lingual conversations. The clientele is always interesting!
We bought the Food for Thought cookbook when Thorsons published it in 1987, and it is possibly the best-used cookbook on the shelf! It's been sellotaped where it's fallen apart, it's blotched with past spills and fingerprints, several pages are torn and scribbled on (eg Minestrone Soup: "Did it with no aubergine, but large red pepper. Tom likes extra grated cheese - used Cheddar"). We still use it, and several of the recipes have become Johnson family Old Reliables - one of my favourites being Shepherdess Pie, made with aduki beans. Their potato salad also goes down a treat at parties - there's never any left!
We ate at the restaurant last weekend, in between museum visits (blogs to follow!) and we commented on how it hasn't changed in any fundamental way over the last three decades. No need, obviously - as the saying goes: If it ain't broke, why fix it?