After a series of unfortunate events put paid to March breakfast (yes, here’s the apology – sorry for calling it off at the last minute folks!), April and early May proved fertile ground for breakfasting around the globe. So here’s four breakfasts to feast your eyes on as recompense.
First up was Hispania, which although on familiar turf in central London offered an alternative take on the breakfast staples. Yes, you’ve guessed, it’s Spanish cuisine here – and the obligatory churros and chocolate are on the menu, but I didn’t bite on this occasion. Instead I settled for the ‘cooked breakfast’ option, of fried eggs on toast with chistorra (mild chorizo).
First observation, this place does not seem to anticipate much custom at its opening hour of 8am – I was sat at table in the empty restaurant for 5-10 minutes before anyone noticed I was there. Waiting and front of house staff appeared momentarily a various points, and vanished again. It gave good opportunity to appreciate the fine decor, but overall the impression was of being sat in the first class waiting room of a long abandoned Victorian train station. A few signs of life upstairs might tempt in slightly more of the morning trade, because at the moment I’m not sure anyone is really going to believe it’s open.
Which is a pity, as the breakfast was definitely good, if not wildly adventurous. I’d go as far as to say that I don’t think it really exceeds the fare at Camino. That’s not exactly a criticism given how good the Camino breakfast was, but the ambience and the ambition of Hispania are clearly aiming for a slightly more exclusive feel – and the breakfast options need a little more inspiration to achieve that.
The end of April was dominated by work travel, which gave the opportunity to sample a wide cultural range of breakfasting options. First up, Bahamian breakfast at the Old Colonial Hotel in Nassau. An authentic Bahamas breakfast is apparently boiled fish with “johnnycake”, a dense roll of slightly sweet bread – a bit like brioche. The fish is boiled with onions and potatoes and is served up in a bowl with the water/stock. It was pleasant, but certainly hasn’t dislodged my preference for the full English … and oh boy, it was a real plateful! More fish than I would eat for a fish dinner was a bit much at 8am in the morning, and I’m afraid to say I couldn’t finish the dish (or at least, it would have been unwise to attempt to just before a meeting).
This authentic Caribbean experience was followed up with a somewhat less regionally authentic sampling of the bagel with salmon and cream cheese option – given the volume of Americans populating the hotel, it seemed a reasonable bet that staple US breakfast options might be done reasonably well here. This bet was on the money, with a fabulous mound of salmon delivered up with mouth-wateringly juicy strawberries, tangy capers and some fresh lemon and orange to boot. As bagel breakfasts go, this was definitely living the dream.
Sacriligious though it may be, I’m afraid I was not sold on the traditional Bahamian breakfast – nor on the potato, peppers and onion hash that seemed to be a local staple on the hotel buffets either. Back in London however, I had the opportunity to return to familiar territory in the form of the Workers Cafe in Islington. Although its been many years since we were there, it’s still a tremendous experience. When it says “all day breakfast” it really does mean that. I walked in at 8pm and they happily dished me up a delicious ‘Mediterranean breakfast’ with Halloumi, mushrooms, hash browns, two lusciously fried eggs and some sumptuous spicy sausage, along with a freshly squeezed orange juice and a vast mug of builder’s tea. A truly heroic establishment, that should stand forever as a testament to the best tenets of breakfasting.