Café A’Thai, EC1M
Weather-wise, this summer seems to be getting no better, and a trip to Europe (France and Germany - thoughts on their respective…attempts (shall we say) to make a breakfast are soon to come) yielded no less overcast clouds and rain. A subsequent health binge brought about by my loathsome inactivity, and seemingly insatiable desire to consume anything and everything presented to me, resulted in a rather drastic decrease in my consumption of everyone’s favourite greasy goodness.
Lurvensteen’s absence is bitterly noted whenever I venture out these days, and has put an abrupt stop to any interesting conversations and musings that were to be enjoyed during the consumption of Britain’s finest meal. Thus, dear readers, you must put up with Eggsley flying-solo until I can find a new partner in grime.
But, for now, at least I am back.
Café A’Thai, probably the most unsuitably named Greasy Spoon in Farringdon, is a pleasantly welcoming cafe. Located on the corner of a street, its all-glass walls provide a beautiful view of the seething masses’ depressing commute to and from their
vile dungeons of misery jobs, allowing for plenty of musing upon society’s inadequacies as you gorge on what proves to be an incredibly reasonably-priced (almost perfectly priced) Full English.
£3.95 is the price paid for this culinary delight, and that price includes a tea or coffee.
First things first: Hallelujah. Breakfast priced as it should be. It’s no wonder that this cafe has been a haunt for workmen and city boys alike since I first discovered it on my path to graduation. The atmosphere is delightful, though it would be a fair bit sweeter if the staff smiled (or said anything, for that matter), and were radio 5 live murmuring away in the background. Anywhere that will charge less than a fiver for breakfast gets an instant Eggsley Gold Star Award, providing, of course, that the breakfast delivers.
…and boy, does it deliver.
Let’s start with the obvious: it comes with hash browns, not chips. I could write a book on why hash browns are the better, tastier, fluffier, more wonderful, more fitting accompaniment to a Full English than chips, but I’m far too lazy and thus, my dear readers, you simply have to just take it as ‘given’ that hash browns are greater than chips. For one, they actually have a flavour, and do not need to be drowned in salt. Nor do they need a condiment; they taste even better dipped in beans or egg yolk (and absolutely foul with ketchup, which is clearly God’s way of telling you not to spoil your breakfast with an unnecessary extra variety of Heinz).
The breakfast is an ideal size, and a good, healthy portion of lavishly and lovingly buttered toast is delivered before the breakfast itself arrives, giving you something to douse your salivating lips with as you await the taste of bacon. It’s amazing, but the owners of this fine establishment have somehow managed even to make toast taste better than normal, especially astounding given that the bread itself is, frankly, crap bread. I suspect it’s the salted butter. In any case, good toast.
The bacon is cooked expertly, with that wonderful charred flavour hitting your tongue without drowning out the taste of the bacon itself. It is also clearly good quality bacon - the kind that isn’t smothered in smeggma (as I like to call it) upon arrival and is also not overly-greasy so as the bring on an unwanted heart-attack (unlike others). The tomato is also a meaty tomato, and retains enough juiciness to allow its welcome acidity to cut through the saltiness of the bacon.
The egg, too, is well-cooked, with a wonderfully runny yolk and no horrible, uncooked egg white. If it did have one flaw, I would say that the egg is perhaps a smidgen too buttery (taste reveals that the egg is clearly fried in butter), and could have done with some salt and pepper being ground into it during its cooking, as the condiments on the table are nothing to write home about (I hate that ghastly white pepper powder).
If Moonlight Cafe had a lethal pièce de résistance, then Café A’Thai has a mouth-watering one: the sausage. This, dear readers, is the kind of sausage that really gets your darling Eggsley going - a good, herb-filled, flavoursome, delicate, not-overly-greasy Cumberland. It is (as you will eventually find out) one of the key pillars of my Breakfast Lore. The sausage should be the crown jewel in any Full English and is all-too-often completely overlooked by London’s greasy underbelly (I suspect price is an issue). A’Thai’s sausage is definitely not the usual 90% breadcrumb affair, it is the 100% tasty affair. I cannot laud them with enough praise, and whilst it is far from the best sausage I have eaten with a Full English, for a cafe to provide a sausage of such quality at a price so low (£3.95! With a drink!), it is astounding. Bravo, A’Thai, bravo. Now change your bloody name.
I suspect I shall definitely be venturing back here…indeed, this is my fourth (or fifth) visit since I first discovered it a mere two months ago.
Yet surely there has to be a downside? You are right, my dear readers, there does have to be a downside. At £3.95, surely this cannot be the be all and end all of English Breakfasts? Surely, a mere handful of posts into this blog, I cannot have found the answer?
I’ll stop the rhetoric and confess that yes, there is a downside: the coffee is diabolical. I mean, it really is disgusting. I imagine they’re blowing all the budget on the ingredients for the breakfast and so decided to just collect buckets of rat piss instead of buying coffee beans. I was loathe to include this detail, but every time I have visited, my coffee has made me feel ill. It has a horribly saccharine quality to it, as well as being watery and just generally reminiscent of a big mugful of human waste. Stick to the tea. I can’t before 11am, it has to be coffee, and I would gladly pay Café A’Thai a full £5 if it meant their coffee was as good as their breakfast. I mean, really, is it that hard? As it is, I’d rather bring a tub of Nescafé Gold Blend and just ask them to add hot water. Whatever that machine they have is making is vile.
The recent collapse of British Society has left me bereft of musings, thoughts and opinions, other than one over-powering feeling of disgust. For that, I apologise.
My quest for the perfect Full English continues…