Breakfast at Simpsons in the Strand (SITS) was certainly an experience. From start to finish. Our intrepid new breakfaster confused the lady at the door immensely. “Are you here for the British Venture Capitalists Association breakfast with Lord Myners?” she asked innocently. Resisting the no-doubt overpowering urge to just say yes and head upstairs for a free nosh-up amongst the shiny suit brigade, our gallant new-joiner made his way instead to be seated in the Grand Divan.
Trying not to look to hard or too long at the prices, the group quickly demonstrated a range of appetites for risk versus reward. The more cautious opted merely for the full English breakfast, comprising Cumberland sausage, scrambled egg, streaky and back bacon, Stornoway black pudding, fried mushrooms, baked tomato & Egg . The aspiring venture capitalists among us calculated that the £2 further investment required in order to secure an additional lamb kidney, fried bread, bubble & squeak and baked beans was sufficiently modest to offset the risk of being unable to finish the platter.
An immensely well-dressed waiter materialised soundlessly at the end of the table to take our orders, and with these safely placed, the anticipation now began in earnest. Now, while it is true that anticipation plays a key role in the ultimate enjoyment of a waited for pleasure, one thing that Simpsons might well consider is that it may actually be possible to have too much of a good thing. In the case of anticipation for breakfast, anything over 10-15 minutes is definitely too much. However what is really going over the top is, after that 10-15 minutes, to bring out a platter of breakfasts, place them down at the waiter’s station in full view of your expectant eaters … studiously examine the order sheet for two or three minutes, and whisk them all back to the kitchen again without a word.
To give credit where due, our waiting was punctuated by a fairly constant stream of toast (delivered warm and in proper toast racks), pastries (delectable array presented on a silver platter), tea, coffee, and orange juice (served gracefully and unobtrusively by the liveried waiter). However there comes a point where even the most hearty devourer of morning-time morsels might begin to question whether indulging in such gluten-gluttony before gleefully galloping through the Ten Deadly Sins might not result in very down-to-earth repercussions.
It was also at this point that the individual among us who had opted to sample the Bircher muesli ahead of his ten deadly sins became the object of general envy. To the unitiated (which included most of us), this is a special kind of muesli where the oats have been soaked in fruit juice overnight before serving. Having had a taste, I can confirm that it is in fact supremely delicious.
Fortunately I can report that the breakfast proper, when it arrived, was similarly excellent. A good, meaty sausage cooked just right took centre stage, and the bacon accompanying was tender and tasty. The eggs were perhaps slightly overdone, being a little crispy at the edges – but had firm whites and splendidly runny yolks – just as should be. The accompanying tomato and mushrooms were delivered to similarly high standard – and the all important black pudding was moist and well formed, not falling prey to that dryness that can afflict the lesser contenders in this field.
Those opting for the full sin-fest reported good things for the kidneys and fried bread – and the bubble and squeak proved somewhat unique, coming not in the usual slab but a spherical form, looking rather like a scotch egg. Nevertheless, it was reported to be a fine example of this often overlooked breakfast delicacy.
So, although somewhat slow from order to eating, Simpsons did eventually redeem itself. The quality of the food is certainly very good – but not really warranting the quite eye-watering prices. You are paying at least as much for the service and the surroundings as for the edible portion of the experience. A high-scoring breakfast, but one that won’t be repeated often!