Tony Lorenzo’s Café, Rochester

Well then, no lack of ambition at Tony’s place in the delightful town/city of Rochester in Kent (its  claims the latter but lost city status by being too slow off the mark when unitary authorities came about, so I hear.)   But back to Tony, who for those not in the know is a well-known local cabaret singer and owner of Tony Lorenzo’s.  Let Tony’s website tell you more:

Welcome to Tony Lorenzo Online. Situated in the heart of Historic RochesterTony Lorenzo has been providing a
first class food service for well over 25 years. As we enter
a new era, with Tony Lorenzo at the centre of attention,
we look forward to providing all of our customers, new and
old, at least another 20 years of excellent service and quality.

With this amount of experience behind us we are sure we will be the undisputed masters of our trade, and constantly look into ways of improving on our service. In fact we have recently
made a complete overhaul of our Buffet Service, so
if you are having a celebration, office meeting or
any other occasion check out our service here.


To be precise, the establishment describes itself as a “patisserie, sandwich bar, continental café and deli,” though that description apparently extends to include a wide range of decidedly English cornish pasties and even all-day breakfasts.  Something for everyone then.

Patrons requiring refreshment go through the shop, complete with said pasties and mouth-watering cakes, up a small flight of stairs and into the café.  There you can seat yourself and peruse some heavily crumpled menus before going to the counter to order.  Evidently waitress service has now died a death in many a caff due to the cost of providing top class service at the table, though at least it is still one step up from self-service.

At a sample lunchtime tasting, we tried a sandwich of egg mayo with smoked salmon, a bacon and emmenthal panini, two milk shakes (respectively vanilla and chocolate), plus a big black coffee for good measure.  The cakes were tempting but sadly we were saving ourselves for dinner later on.

The café was staffed almost exclusively by pretty young boys, which I do not mean as a criticism though it would certainly attract a female clientele more than male.  This includes my companion, who knew at least one of the boys from her teaching role but raves about the establishment for its products.  Anyway, back to the boys: they seemed cheerful and happy to help with the order, which came promptly and accurately, no small achievement compared to some restaurants.

The milk shakes were OK but not the best of their type I’ve ever consumed.  Thickness of texture and with an undercurrent of ice cream worked well, though the vanilla flavouring in my version tasted artificial.  Maybe my expectations are too high of a £2.75 shake, but I was hoping for a more authentic vanilla taste.  My companion’s chocolate shake disappeared with no signs of regret, so I’ll assume the same could not be said of the choccy flavouring.

The food then arrived, and I began to wonder if we had made a mistake.  The panini and the sandwich were reasonable, if uppish in the price stakes for what they were.  The egg and smoked salmon went down well and the panini proved competent if not extra special.  Maybe it needed another ingredient, possibly a touch of caramelised chutney to put some zing on the palate?

But that was not the cause of my distemper.  No, the mistake was in the fact that the respective snacks looked very forlorn on their plates.  If you look at the picture above, you’ll see there was indeed a tiny salad garnish with the panini, comprising a few shavings of lightly picked onion plus some very tired, near extinct and decidedly inedible rocket.  Not even a few crisps and coleslaw to fill the plate up.  My companion’s garnish on the other hand included the same onions but also some livelier red cabbage (obvious favouritism here, giving the lady much the better garnish!)

Joking apart, the presentation and value of the two snacks did leave something to be desired, which criticism I hope will improve attention to detail at Tony’s in future, since Tony makes a point of saying he is always looking to improve service.

Maybe one visit is not sufficient to give a full and rounded account of the place, so a second visit could be required.  Could also be that I didn’t choose the most inspiring item on the menu, so maybe the breakfast or pasties plus cakes would make for better eating?  At any rate, on this occasion I’m sorry but while I thought the service perfectly fine and decent, I didn’t feel Tony’s offered either the best food or the best value.  I hope next time around Tony will try to convince me otherwise.


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