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?”
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.
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.
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.