The Walpole leads a double life. On Friday and Saturday nights it’s an accomplished restaurant, serving the likes of Cornish crab bisque and sea bass with pea and parmesan risotto. The rest of the week, however, it’s a cheap and cheerful greasy spoon, offering myriad variations on bacon, egg, sausage, onions and mushrooms, as well as roast chicken, spag bol and steak sandwiches.
The decor is basic, enlivened by old tin ads for Tizer (‘the appetiser’) and nut brown tobacco (‘for nutty flavour’). Only a few details – the chalkboard wine list that includes a £45 bottle of barolo, the bank of exotic liqueurs, and a cabinet filled with elegant wine glasses – hints at its dual identity. As a straightforward caff, the Walpole is very solid. The own-cooked ham is excellent and you get a huge portion of it with your mound of ham, egg and chips.
The sausages, and bubble and squeak are tasty and the toast comes with mini pots of Bonne Maman jam. Your bill will be pleasingly small – unless you order that barolo with your beans on toast.