A last-minute succession of sorry excuses sees the Brekmeister dining alone this month – however, as the saying goes, whosoever gains the whole world, but gives up their breakfast, might as well have stayed in bed. Or something like that. But to the nub of the matter – is the offering at the Anthologist worthy of compilation into into the annals of great breakfasts?
After detailed inspection of the menu, I decided that a “Californian Kickstarter” was the only possible option to begin the day. That would be poached eggs on a toasted English muffin topped with hummus, guacamole, flat mushroom, grilled plum tomato and sweet chilli sauce.
So then … the good or the bad? The good is that the kickstarter is absolutely delicious. The bad is that they appear to have forgotten to transfer it from a kitchen chopping block to an actual plate. Now I’m sure that it’s very trendy, minimalist and pseudo-naturalistic to present a breakfast on a bare hunk of wood. But there are actually some fairly good reasons that the progress of society brought with it the advent of dishes with upturned rims. Namely, that it prevents your egg from running straight into your lap when you pierce the yolk. Perhaps somewhere, there are an avant-garde few in the City who will boldly and gladly sacrifice the sanctity of their trousers at 8am in return for the daringly modern experience of eating from a plank. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
This choice example of obsessive adherence to style over sense aside, the actual breakfast was a genuine pleasure. The poached eggs were done to perfection, disgorging their yolky essence readily. Of course, I am never going to criticise a mushroom unless it is a true abomination – and this was far from that, as you can see. I wasn’t sure how the hummus, guacamole and sweet chilli would work in the context of eight o’clock in the morning – but the answer is that, here at least, they work remarkably well. I can imagine in the wrong quantities they could make this dish quite unappealing, but Anthologist get it just right in this respect. The hummus and guacamole work together to give a distinctive flavour and feel but, crucially, without overwhelming the subtler taste of the egg. Likewise, the incorporation of the sweet chilli sauce must require an infinitesimal precision to deliver that fantastic tang at the end of the mouthful, but again without smothering any of the other tastes.
It all comes dished up in a muffin – and a muffin is a muffin really, this one no exception. Nothing about it stands out – but that job is adequately done by the contents, and I should say that it is the right proportion to give the whole meal its substance without, as some places do, leaving you feeling like you’ve ingested a bowling-ball of dough.
It does take a while to get a bill to appear, and then to get someone interested in receiving a payment to appear – but I confess that I am potentially swayed more than is necessary in favour of the place by the fact that my tab comes enclosed in a copy of the Boswell’s Life of Johnson. Neat touch. And this time the style points can be awarded with out downgrade on the practicality front. Good work!
As such it seems appropriate to sign off with a few words of wisdom from the venerable Dr. Johnson himself, on the topic of breakfast – of course:
“If an epicure could remove by a wish, wherever he had supped he would breakfast in Scotland” – Samuel Johnson, Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland.
And with that, Brekmeister himself is off to sup at Scottish breakfast tables for a week, but promises not to let himself be so ensnared by the delights of Scottish breakfast fare as to not return for November’s breakfast … see you then!