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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
2 Jan 2004

Michael's in Queensway is unique amongst all the cafés and
restaurants I have visited.

It does not take bookings, in fact there is no phone number
listed on its menu. The café has never experienced a bad debt
and it is also one of the very few places where it does not
matter whether you spill any of your food. As Michael's
customers are only wearing a dressing gown at the most when
their food is served it is most unlikely that they will run
off without paying into the middle of Queensway or bother
about a drop of special house salad dressing down their legs.

But Michael's is well worth visiting not just for the honest
quality and value for money of the food on offer but for its
location inside the magnificent, if rather faded, Porchester
Baths.

This 1920's corner site comprises Turkish saunas and Russian
steam rooms as well as a cold plunge and massage rooms and is
described by the spa guides as 'blissfully old fashioned'. But
to its many regulars it is one of London's best kept secrets
particularly those who gather on a Saturday and during and
after their steam bath sit, chat and set the world to rights.

Michael fuels their opinions with every single variation on an
English breakfast; five big bowl salads - tuna, prawn, Greek,
cottage cheese and a spa special; burgers; vegetarian quiche;
grilled chicken breast; baked potatoes and sandwiches with
various stuffings. Most of which seems to be washed down with
very welcome pots of tea. Portions are generous and prices
pretty reasonable with most main courses between £5 and £7 and the breakfast under a fiver.

The presentation may not be overly glamorous but then neither
are the red faced customers - however refreshed and virtuous
they may look and feel.

The Porchester Spa, Queensway London W2 5HS. 020-7792 3980
open 1000-2200
Men: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday; women Tuesday, Thursday
and Friday and Sunday 1000-1600. Mixed 1600-2200 Sunday.

Michael's, Last orders Mon-Sat 1930, Sunday morning 1530,
Sunday evening 1930.