A select group of BWers assembled to assess the experience of a breakfast at the highly regarded Manicomio restaurant on Gutter Lane. All of us having sampled lunchtime fare there in various guises (either in the restaurant itself or from the takeaway salad bar), expectations were comfortably high. Duly ordered were one “Full Italian” breakfast, one grilled bacon and tomato sandwich, and one pancakes with bacon and mascarpone. Having been initially intrigued by the promise of “Italian” scrambled eggs, the first disappointment was that only distinguishing characteristic appeared to be that they were a bit more yellow than English scrambled eggs.
Although moderately anti-climactic, there was actually no reason to dislike the scramble itself which was tasty and fresh – but was unfortunately let down by its having been placed atop the other “Italian” element, which was the bruschetta that was playing substitute for either toast or fried bread. Now, in my opinion, there’s nothing like a good bit of bruschetta. Sadly though, this was nothing like a good bit of bruschetta – managing simultaneously to be so leathery as to be almost impossible to defeat with knife or with tooth, yet at the same time achieving a slightly soggy texture from the crowning mound of egg. Despite its impenetrable nature, it provided no satisfying crunch to accompany the soft yield of the egg.
Apart from this mishap, the offering fell firmly into the “good but not great” category – streaky bacon done fine, a juicy mushroom, an unremarkable sausage and a black pudding that was neither memorably good nor bad. Certainly the best bit was the perfectly grilled tomatoes with their ripe flavour accented with just the right level of charring.
The bacon sarnie was demolished by its purchaser with such vigour that I was unable to capture its glory for posterity. Nevertheless, it was pronounced to be good.
Beyond reproach, however, were the pancakes – which arrived to envious sideways glances from the recipients of Full Italian and Bacon Sarnie. Two perfectly formed hot spongy suns staring from the plate, with bacon comets streaking across the surface – a glinting shimmer of maple syrup in one side-dish, and a dainty dab of mascarpone in another providing the perfect complement, but not in such quantity as to overwhelm the main show. Declared to be delicious by its devourer, this dish was worth the visit. But, clocking in at near £20 with two coffees, the austerity-busting “Full Italian” certainly left a gastronomic deficit.