Archive for August, 2011

Subterranean breakfast blues

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Arriving for breakfast at the Cafe Below on a fine morning, all seemed good in the world – what better than to be sat up on the pavement under a parasol by St Mary le Bow, watching the Cheapside morning traffic roll gently by in front, and listening to the commoition of the florists setting up stall behind.

As no-one else had arrived, I decided to pop downstairs to the cafe proper to get a menu.  One slight problem though: “We don’t have printed menus for breakfast”.  Hmm … well either I have to memorise the menu and then relay it to everyone as they arrive, or else everyone has to trek down the stairs as they arrive – not ideal!  Fortunately technology provided a handy solution – and a phone-snap of the menu pinned on the wall did the business nicely.

With a good mix of new and old faces, we were able to survey a range of the options on offer.  As there was no full english option on the menu, I took the Eggs and bacon on toast, with an Americano.   Our new breakfaster could not resist the opportunity to sample pancakes, bacon and maple syrup which I have to say was very tempting indeed. 

However one wiser member of our company, better acquainted with the venue, knew that full english was available off menu – a sotto voce word with the staff is all that is required, it seems, and the magical combination can be procured. 

Fortunately I was able to nab a sausage from the enlightened one’s plate to supplement my fare, and so did manage to get a full english of sorts.  The food itself was excellent, with quality bread for the toast, tasty scrambled eggs and succulent bacon.  The sausage was not highly seasoned, but well cooked and flavoursome. 

On the downside, myAmericano arrived as a Machiato – but to the credit of the place, as soon as the mistake was realised, the offending cup was whisked away without hesitation and replaced with the correct beverage.

Overall, the Cafe Below gets the big things right (quality of the food, range of – but it’s not quite there on some of the little things.  Failing to have a full english option on a cooked breakfast menu like this is simply unforgivable; and to not have a menu that you can take up the outside table is an unfortunate oversight.  That said, go for the food and for the atmosphere and you won’t be disappointed.

Breakfast below

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Despite the name, the Cafe Below has a distinctly above ground presence in addition to its tables in the crypt.  Weather obliging, we’ll breakfast under the parasols … but come rain and storm, we’ll lurk down in the bowels of the church.  Coming applauded by Time Out, Metro, the Observer and, uh, Waitrose Food Illustrated this should be a good start to the day! 

Breakfasting venue:  The Cafe Below

Date of Breakfasting: Wednesday 10th August

Time: 8:00am – 8:45am

Nearest tube is:  St. Pauls / Bank / Mansion House

Location: Cafe Below, St Mary-le-Bow Church, Cheapside, London, EC2V 6AU


Breakfast At Fresco

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Cafe Fresco offers a no-apologies straightforward greasy-spoon service.   A comprehensive array of options await the full English breakfaster, and I opted for the the “Country Breakfast”, which consisted of egg, bacon, sausage, chips, black pudding, hash brown and beans.  I’m not entirely sure what about this is “Country” – I suppose perhaps the use of every feasible part of a pig to populate the plate.  In any case, having made the usual request to replace the beans with mushrooms (seemed to be in keeping with the Country theme too), I sat down to await the goods.

Servivce was nothing if not prompt – I was barely waiting five minutes before a mounded plate appeared from the kitchen – and despite my fears at the speed of delivery, nothing was undercooked.  The chips were piping hot and delicious, and there were generous portions of all elements.  Except … where are the mushrooms?  Spot them if you can …



…. well, for the less eagle eyed among you, the mushrooms were later found to be hiding away beneath the chips.  Unfortunately, they weren’t especially appetising mushrooms, but they were at least there and in good number.  Overall the meal was good but not great, and though I won’t be rushing back it was a perfectly decent place to have a birthday breakfast.