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.