Archive for January, 2013

February Breakfast

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Following on from the unprecedented posting of our latest breakfast review the day after the event, we follow up with this coup de grace – announcement of the next breakfast only the day after that!  For February’s breakfast we will patronise the Paternoster Chophouse, which offers a rather enticing array of breakfast options – ranging from your plain porridge, all the way up to a full “Steak breakfast”.  Yup, that would be Aberdeen Angus rib steak dished up with egg, bacon and hash browns.  For the less voracious morning eater, there’s banana oatmeal smoothies or fruit muffins – and for your traditionalist there’s the good ol’ kippers.  Oh yes, and did I mention that their breakfasts come with complimentary tea or coffee and toast?  I don’t believe I did.  Now that’s something you won’t see at every City breakfasting joint.  Let’s see if they can live up to their promise!  8am February 13th – see you there!

Breakfasting venue: Paternoster Chophouse

Date of breakfasting: 13 February 2013

Nearest Tube is: St Paul’s

Location: 1 Paternoster Square, Warwick Court, EC4M 7DX

Back to the Breakfast Club

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

It’s always good to discover fellow adherents to the cause of a good breakfast – and so it was with much delight that we originally came across the first Breakfast Club cafe buried in a Soho side-street.  It offered a thoroughly appetising menu, a raison d’etre that we could heartily embrace – all served up with a generous dollop of knowing kitsch.  We ended up with a follow-on visit to the Angel branch not long after, and had a memorable breakfast there that has hung on in the memory since.   So we were most pleased to discover that not only is the Breakfast Club thriving, but it is even expanding – providing the perfect excuse to head back once again.

This time we are at the Spitalfields branch – once again nestled in a suitably discreet alleyway just off a major thoroughfare, it has the perfect combination of being only a stone’s throw from easy access via Liverpool Street Station – but at the same time manages to feel somehow a bit off the beaten track.  This feeling is enhanced by the featureless and nameless bright yellow door through which you enter, which is presumably left this way to reinforce the general air of “knowingness” about the place.  You’re coming in here because you know it must be the right place, not because anything tells you that it is.

Once inside it’s the familiar achingly hipsterish vibe.  Big Smeg fridge, which may or may not be there purely for the aesthetic.  Neon “Sex, drugs and bacon rolls” sign.   Giant station clock.  Bartender with a beard straight out of Sons of Anarchy.  Wire-frame booths with wooden benches and tables, and a scattering of brightly coloured easy chairs up at the end.  Roland Rat wallpaper for the bathroom.  Yep, all hipster boxes ticked.

The menu looks very familiar – which is pleasing.  No need to fix what ain’t broke – and accordingly we order up a Full Monty, a Huevos Rancheros and a Huevos el Benny.  The latter is slightly a strike in the dark, but happily turns out to be some sort of Latino eggs benedict.

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That’s muffin, peppers, guacamole, a bit of chilli/salsa all topped with chorizo sausage, poached eggs and hollandaise – and it is salivatingly delicious.  And simply because I can’t contemplate the prospect of breakfast without it, I also have side of mushrooms.  The Huevos Rancheros consists of tortillas, sour cream, refried beans, two fried eggs and two fat, spicy chorizo sausages.  It is, in fact, a meal for a full day pretty much.  As can be seen the eggs are pretty much perfectly done, and the dish as a whole hits every spot – and you won’t find anything like it anywhere else I can think of (even at Camino).

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Of course, not breakfast establishment worth its salt can do without it’s full breakfast option – and at the Breakfast Club that is the “Full Monty”.  This dish also has the distinction of being almost the only one on the menu here that has sausage that isn’t chorizo (though I’m sure you could request any of those with ordinary sausage if you wanted).   The Full Monty certainly does justice to its name with its two eggs accompanied by a pool of beans, the aforementioned sausage, doorstops of toast, bacon, mushroom, black pudding and rather large potato’s worth of wedges.  This is not for the faint of appetite.

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While it would give me great pleasure to say that the Full Monty was without reproach, unfortunately the Mysterious Case of the Black Pudding prevents me from giving what would otherwise be fulsome praise of the entire Breakfast Club experience.  The mystery is that despite maintaining all the requisite appearance and texture of a delicious black pudding it tastes …. well, it’s not that it tastes bad in any way really, just that it doesn’t taste at all of black pudding.  We all sample a piece, and nobody could quite put their finger on it other than it was almost as if the blood had been sucked out and just left a piece of fried oatmeal behind.  “Odd” was the consensus.

However that can in no way be said to have brought the level of the whole experience down to anything less than bloody fantastic, as a quick swig of breakfast smoothie was more than enough to remind us.  If you’ve been to either of the other Breakfast Clubs, then there’s not going to be anything here to take you by surprise – but the too cool for school thing kinda works somehow, and doesn’t feel quite as earnest as, say, the Modern Pantry. The vital ingredient though, is right there – spankingly good breakfasts, served promptly and looking like a million bucks on your plate – and for the adventurous soul there’s even a selection of lively looking cocktails should the need arise. All in all, its good to see somewhere getting it so right – long may it continue!

 

January Breakfast

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

New year it is, and with new resolve we venture once again into the heady territory of breakfasting on the second Wednesday of the month.  We note that the Breakfast Club has now expanded its reach – and having sampled the fare at both the Soho and the Angel branches, it seems only right that we should not ignore this new opportunity. 

A short walk from Liverpool Street Station will take you to The Breakfast Club, Spitalfields (map).  See you there 8am tomorrow!

Breakfasting venue: Breakfast Club

Date of breakfasting: 9 January 2013

Nearest Tube is: Liverpool Street

Location: 12-16 Artillery Lane, E1 7LS

The fairytale of All Bar One

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Champagne breakfast for £10.  It seemed so good on paper.  Well, onscreen I suppose – but it was there on a special menu card on the table too.  Thus primed, I sauntered up to the bar in pleasant mood as I contemplated the prospect of a pre-work pick-me-up.

“Two full English Champagne breakfasts please!”

A troubled look came over her face.  “Oh, I’m sorry – we don’t serve alcohol before 10am”. 

(me, disbelievingly)  “Uhhhh … but your menu says that you’re offering Champagne breakfast all December.  It doesn’t say anything about time restrictions”

(her, firmly) “Well we don’t have a license to serve alcohol before 10am, so we can’t do that.” 

(very irritatedly) “Well that’s a bit s***”

“Would you like to speak to the manager?”

“YES PLEASE!”

I return to the table to peruse the conundrum of an alcohol free Champagne breakfast.  Several dust-balls blow past, and a member of the office Christmas party behind us opens his gigantic secret Santa gift to discover 50 cans of Coke, much to everyone’s amusement.  A faintly stubbly and weary looking manager emerges from the basement.  “What’s the problem?”

I hand him the promotional menu, and stab a finger at the Champagne breakfast offer.  He looks at it.  He looks at me.  “She won’t let you have it?” he asks.

“No.”  He straightens up.  “Right, well I think we can sort that out”.  He strides off to the bar.  Momentarily, a different bartender appears at our table: “Brown or white toast?”. Relief all round.

Our orders safely (although possibly illegally) placed, frayed nerves begin to settle a little. They are settled even further when a tray bearing two champagne flutes wends its way towards our seats. Now it must never be said that All Bar One lacks style or sophistication, for perched atop each glass is a gold coloured plastic diamond, which opens to reveal … uh, well, we’re not quite sure what. Possibly a bracelet. But definitely classy. Oh yes.

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Thus bearing these treasures, and having fulfilled our quest for a breakfast tipple, we were ready to sample the breakfast fare – and this is where the fairytale ending comes in. It was actually a properly good breakfast. Okay so it’s not going to knock Simpson’s or Roast off their pedestals any time soon, but it’s a good breakfast done well. The eggs are pretty much perfect – and you get two, which is a definite bonus. Only half a mushroom, but I’m prepared to forgive that because it is delicious and cooked beautifully. The provision of two sausages also earns brownie points in my book – I know that there are baconistas out there for whom nothing is an acceptable substitute for the humble rasher, but I am not of that camp. A good sausage wins out every time for me – and these are most certainly good sausages. Fat, sizzling and just the right level of spice to pep up the platter. A fried tomato rounds things off nicely. I have no comment on the beans because, well, beans are beans to me and these are no exception. The only minor flaw is the toast which is a bit anaemic and chewy, and tending toward the lower end of the thermometer. Nevertheless, this is really the only thing wrong, so it’s definitely an overall winner in my book.
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So then – we all lived happily ever after? Not quite, as it happens. Having duly polished our plates and called for the bill, the manager approaches our table again a little sheepishly. “Uh, I’m afraid that this offer hasn’t been put on the tills yet … so I’m going to have to write your receipt our by hand. Is that OK?”

The moral of this story is: don’t let the marketing department run your Christmas without talking to the frontline staff. That aside, another good breakfast was had by all.