December breakfast is always a tough call. Along with Christmas, the last Breakfast Wednesday of the year feels like it can never quite live up to the expectations that are held for it – it must be a glorious success and have some sort of celebratory feel to it. Yet revisiting a ‘tried and tested’ venue also seems like cheating. This year’s selection was no different, and after lengthy debate over which establishments offered the best chance of an early morning festive tipple along with the the standard fare, the Fox and Anchor was selected.
Seems hard to believe that Breakfast Wednesdays has been going this long without yet visiting this formidable force on the Breakfasting scene. The Fox and Anchor is tucked away on a side street running off from Smithfield Market, a mere stone’s throw from the location of previous Breakfasts, yet we’ve never noticed it. Perhaps because it is a pub, and it has to be said that the general performance of pubs in BW’s experience has been poor (with the notable exception of Simpson’s Tavern, of course). Nevertheless, the offer of a “City Boy” breakfast including a pint of stout along with the Full English with liver, kidneys and black pudding suggested true dedication to the best principles of pre-work consumption and demanded at least fair consideration.
The first hurdle was actually getting through to secure a table, and after the phone rang out again on the third attempt to get through, I opted for the “turn up and see” approach. For practically every place we’ve been to, this would be unproblematic as they are usually at best half full at 8am. Not the Fox and Anchor, which was crammed from corner to corner with merrily feasting suited types.
However, I must offer full points to them on this front – other than a slightly furrowed brow when we said we had no booking, no fuss was made at all as we were guided to a cosy little table for four in an out of sight alcove. Not even when the fifth and sixth breakfasters turned up. I am, sadly, unable to report on the merits of the “City Boy” breakfast as, in the event, none of our party turned out to be up to the challenge. However the noises emanating from the adjacent table, which had been supplied with several “City Boys” suggests that it met with satisfaction.
Those of our own breakfasters who contented themselves with a modest full English were not disappointed either. Where many inferior competitors have gone the way of the single sausage, it is heartening to know that the real deal is still on offer. In addition to the double helping of processed pork, the standard serving also includes two eggs and a healthy(?) portion of bacon. In short, this breakfast does not go short on anything.
The only real stumbling block was the tomatoes, and it is almost a shame to mention it given the quality of pretty much every other aspect of our experience – but on the other hand, when so much of it is done so well anything that doesn’t quite come up to scratch sticks out like a sore thumb. So here it is – breakfast tomatoes should never ever be served cold. It’s contrary to all logic and to the laws of the Medes and Persians (or I’m sure it would have been, had they had any rules about breakfast). I don’t care what fine herbs are daintily sprinkled across them, or how beautifully they’ve been cut, a hot breakfast should be hot. And breakfast tomatoes should ideally be served up with a sprinkling of salt, gleaming skin, and dark brown grill lines like plough furrows across them, HOT from the grill or skillet. I’ll even accept tinned tomotoes that have been heated up in a microwave at a pinch. But a cold tomato plonked on the side of the plate is anathema – we’re not here for a salad. We’re here for a breakfast.
With that rant aside, breakfast at the Fox and Anchor was without any further blemish (well, any blemish other that was the responsibility of the venue … we cannot, of course, blame the veritable establishment for the menu choices of some of our less enlightened co-breakfasters. Porridge, honestly!!)
Anyway, I would happily be back here for a hearty start to the day – and the lure of the “City Boy” still remains …