The Breakfast Club, W1F
Having originated in humble Soho, The Breakfast Club (not to be confused with the stellar 80s movie, mind, no matter how hard they try to push their “love for the Eighties”) has been hard at work on the asexual reproduction front: Angel, Spitalfields and - surprise, surprise - Hoxton are all now host (I wonder why?) to the delights of this breakfast
café restaurant brasserie …place.
The atmosphere is an interesting one: people were queuing (yes, queuing!) and this disgusted me - there are a dozen neighbouring, independent greasy spoons in the area that would offer equally good food for less money. The trendy waiters (and there are many) are very friendly, sitting down alongside you to take your order - a behaviour I have only ever before observed in a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles. It is a little disconcerting to have a waiter address you as “mate” and laugh at your friends’ indecision when it comes to ordering from their (very welcomingly) large breakfast menu. I’d certainly prefer the more traditional affair, but their friendliness and desire to attend to your needs cannot be reasonably knocked. It isn’t a greasy spoon, I must keep reminding myself of that.
I could write about the extensive, continent-spanning menu on offer, but yours truly (and, I hope, you too, dear readers) is only interested in one thing: The Full English, here named, “The Full Monty.”
For all of its trendy pretence, your dear Eggsley simply cannot knock their breakfast. The egg was immaculately prepared (as the photo should illustrate): the yolk was runny, it was not greasy and it was full of free-range flavour. Eggselent (yes, I finally cracked that
yolk joke). The bacon could be a little more charred, but is also flavoursome and delicious. The black pudding and sausage are superb. Black pudding is a lovely surprise to find on a Full English in London in any case, and here, when dipped into the yolk, is simply sublime. The sausage is on par with Farringdon’s finest: a delicious cumberland providing an abundance of meaty and herby flavour.
Like Café A’Thai, the toast deserves a special mention. Here, the toast is a poncy, probably Italian bread, lightly buttered. By itself, the toast is delicious, however its hints of olive oil tarnish the (usually delicious) combination of toast and baked beans. Not quite up to par with old A’Thai, then, but a very good effort.
The mushrooms, too, are delicious. Usually one finds that a greasy spoon’s Full English mushrooms will be a slight afterthought of the straight-from-the-tin-into-the-frier variety that only become tasty once submerged in beans and/or egg yolk. Here, chez The Breakfast Club, the mushrooms are meaty and packed full of flavour. Absolutely delightful when covered in black pepper and put on top of their poncy toast.
The breakfast, however, does have one weakness, and the weakness is almost fatal. It is the potatoes. The Full Monty comes adorned with American-style fried potato chunks (I forget the correct terminology) with rosemary. I, and any other self-proclaimed breakfast-lover, simply cannot abide a herb such as rosemary before one o’clock. It is simply too overpowering, especially with potatoes. Spuds with rosemary should accompany lamb at lunch, not breakfast at half-ten in the morning on a Sunday. The flavour almost ruins the breakfast. Were I the Eighties-loving owners of The Breakfast Club, I would be quick to change this default option, replacing it with the unmatchable: hash browns.
I am fairly sure I could have asked for the default option to be replaced with chips or hash browns, but your dear Eggsley likes to have a cafe’s offering as intended by the establishment - if I didn’t, then my reviews would not be trustworthy now, would they?
As I nurse my (predictably delicious, as I should bloody hope so for the price) black coffee, my thoughts turn to a short story just-completed and accompanying film just-watched: Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers.
The story itself is wonderfully maccabre with excellent passive-aggressive undertones, homoeroticised heterosexuality and a general air of menace. Excellent stuff. The film, on the other hand, is a pathetic, dreadfully-written, -edited and -directed pile of twoddle with a cast that should impress and yet, in almost every role, are horribly mis-cast. None of the tension or atmosphere of the book remains and the “twist” that occurs halfway through the story is blown out of the water in the opening second of the film. I could not believe it. Absolutely class-A atrocious film-making. Crap. It makes me angry to see such a good story so expertly ruined by poor just-about-everything on the film front. Steer well clear, my friends agree. Well clear.
With that thought, I leave The Breakfast Club, concluding that it has unashamedly commodified breakfast - a fact that really rubs me up the wrong way. I feel as if I should not return, out of principal, and that I should recommend that you do not go either…and yet, I find myself organising a meeting there in the near future. It is, after all, a great place for a group larger than four (most cafes struggle with seating and consistency for groups above four), and I would be lying to you all if I did not admit that their “Full Monty” is very, very good. Yet…I can’t help despising its unabashed trendiness and shameless location prostitution.
Thus…go once every six months, pray for forgiveness afterwards, and visit twenty-five independent, traditional greasy-spoons as penance.