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|Address:||33 Dover Street, London W1S 4NF|
|Tel:||020 7499 3033|
|Price: £52.00||Wine: £21.00||Champagne: £60.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 7.30-11am 12N-2.45pm Mon-Sat 6pm-12M|
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Although I have been a Londoner for over three decades, I grew up in the United States. I occasionally get a longing for the food from my childhood and today was one such day. A colleague suggested that we go to Automat.
We each had a cheeseburger with fries and two shakes. My cheeseburger was rather small and although I had asked for it to be done medium rare it came just this side of burnt shoe leather. The fries were perfectly ordinary. My chocolate shake was not large but it was delicious. It was not at all like most shakes back home as it was made with Belgian chocolate. I was pleasantly reminded of the (much larger) chocolate shakes from Godiva on Connecticut Avenue in Washington although it was nowhere near as good. It is odd that Belgian chocolate shakes should be so much better so far from their native land. They are also better value for money. This rather small shake cost six pounds.
We both had an espresso, my friend a double and I a single. This was a source of relief as it ranked among the worst espressos that I have ever had. It was bitter yet tasteless and grainy with stale coffee grinds.
Automat's decor is unexceptional. There is a self-seating area in the front that has no decoration on the walls except for white tiles going up to a three quarter height. Rather like an abattoir. The main dining area takes reserved seating in rows of banquettes and has an attractive wooden vaulted ceiling. Service was good. We had an attractive Spanish waitress who was overworked but had the charming habit of giving a wink to show that she'd seen us asking for her attention. She invariably came quickly thereafter.
Now for the worst bit. Please remember that I am talking about two cheeseburgers with fries, two milk shakes and two espressos. The bill came to fifty two pounds sterling and sixty seven pence. At the current conversion rate, that is $85.32. Yes, eighty five U.S. dollars. For those of you who might be reading this and who are American tourists, PLEASE take note. Eighty five greenbacks for two hamburgers with fries and two milkshakes. And not particularly good ones at that. And followed by two abysmal espressos.
The surprise is that the place was full. WHY? Are there so many people in Mayfair who have more money than taste buds, let alone sense?? There must be.
My heartfelt advice to any American visitors who may be tempted to go to Automat is, simply, DON'T. Wait until you get home. As to my fellow expatriates, you might find it cheaper to fly back. And when you do go, please remember those shakes on Connecticut Avenue at twice the size and less than half the cost.