I have often wondered how one should go about defining “abysmal” with regards to a Full English Breakfast; how bad does a fry-up need to be in order to be so repulsive as to be entirely inedible? The answer, it seems, is that all it needs is an outrageously high opinion of itself, absolutely no care and attention and a price tag that would make even the wealthiest greasehound weep.
Ladies and Gentlemen of my readership, I give you the odious, pretentious and disgusting sinking ship that is Simpsons-in-the-Strand.
Simpsons-in-the-Strand was meant to mark a special occasion: Lurvensteen (that mysterious and enigmatic man who attentive readers will have heard mention of before) had returned triumphantly from sowing his influence in and around the Atacama Desert, and your dear Eggsley and he felt that there was no more fitting a way to herald the return of “Good Times” than a Full English. It was then decided that it should be the greatest of Full English breakfasts; a sumptuous feast of egg, sausage and bacon that would leave us wheezing with gluttony. Some research led us to settle upon old Simpsons, here, with its promise of:
Cumberland sausage, streaky and back bacon, Stornoway black pudding, fried mushrooms, baked tomato & egg (fried, poached or scrambled)
[All of the above includes] toast, pastries, freshly brewed coffee & tea or herbal infusions.
Choice of cereals, porridge or half a grapefruit.
Orange juice, apple juice or grapefruit juice.
I’m sure you’d agree, my dear Breakfast-loving partners in crime, that it sounds most promising, non? The price tag, too, seemed “reassuringly expensive” (as I’ve heard it said). Almost a month in advance of our set date, with the reservation set in stone, I was already salivating with greedy anticipation.
Little did I know how disappointed Lurvensteen and I would be left following the ordeal that was breakfast on the Strand.
The date arrived and, all smartened up, Lurvensteen and Eggsley presented themselves to the charming and polite lady at the front desk. Sure enough, there was our reservation. Our coats were taken and hung up as we were then informed there would be a short wait as they readied our table. This all seemed reasonable, although upon glancing inside, we noticed that only a handful of people were actually dining. How was our table not ready? How peculiar, I thought to myself, before shunning the thought in order to listen to the greedy rumblings of my enormous and repulsive stomach.
It was a short wait indeed, and we were led over to our table - a small one at the back. Ideal for two young men of questionable integrity and demeanour, like us. Two menus were given to us and our drinks were ordered (it won’t surprise you, dear readers, to know that I asked for a good, strong and bitter black coffee).
Having already read the menu, we knew what we wanted and so sat patiently waiting for the waitress to return.
And wait we did.
Before waiting a little bit more.
This waitress was really putting the ‘wait’ in ‘waitress’.
She clearly graduated in Waiting from the College of Waiting, Waitsville, Waitland, with magna cum laude. I wonder if she waited for her degree to arrive by post?
I think I’d begun to put on weight from waiting for so long.
Puns aside, we waited for fucking ages.
Eventually, someone else spotted our grumpy faces and came over, asking what it was we wanted. I felt it was quite clear; we were sitting with closed menus, no food and a near empty pot of coffee.
“Could we order, please?” I asked, politely, as though nothing was wrong.
Off trotted the plump little fellow, back to our original waitress, who duly came over and took our order without so much as even the vaguest hint of an apology for her excellent skills in rendering Breakfast a tedious affair. On top of that, her ability to communicate left something to be desired. That is far from a slight on her as an individual (learning languages is hard!) but when ordering “The Great British Breakfast” and pointing to it on the menu, I was slightly perturbed by her inability to decipher what it was I wanted. It became a genuine ordeal when Lurvensteen attempted to order Eggs Benedict. Lord Almighty.
Things hadn’t got off to a great start, it must be said. I’ve received better service in Farringdon’s Finest, and this place is meant to be a British Institution, don’tcha know? Amidst pursed lips and a refusal to admit that so far the experience was less than stellar, Lurvensteen and I waited for the food. Fortunately it arrived quite quickly. Or rather unfortunately, as I soon realised why.
If, my dear readers, you would cast your eyes up to the image at the top of this post, could you tell me what you see? Glancing at the photo now, I don’t believe it looks too awful, but I wouldn’t say it looks great, either. Unfortunately, given the flatteringly soft light that Simpsons is cast in, the camera seems to have done this breakfast a few favours as, when it arrived, I felt like displaying exactly how I felt about what had just been presented to me, amidst farcical pomp and ceremony by bitter, jaded and (I suspect) woefully underpaid waiters. It looked like breakfast, but it smelt only vaguely like breakfast. It smelt…old. Something wasn’t right. Lurvensteen’s choice of dish looked even more miserable, like some sort of weeping attempt at food with a curdled pig’s orgasm unlovingly splattered on top. His Hollandaise sauce had coagulated before even being presented to him to eat.
I picked up my (rather small) toast to butter it. It was cold, and not simply “no longer warm” but cold. The butter, too, was straight from the fridge and thus solid as a rock. I should also mention it was that shitty little chocolate cube-sized, foil-wrapped butter that you get on planes and in other crappy, budget “sort-of a meal” environments.
The meal wasn’t starting well. Lurvensteen and I ate the food in miserable, disheartened and, above all (this was meant to be a special occasion!), disappointed silence.
It was then that I realised what was wrong with my meal.
Absolutely every ingredient, ladies and gentlemen, was from a hot plate. Sausage, bacon, eggs, mushroom..everything. Every single ingredient had been cooked at some point previously (I suspect around 6am or so) and had been left to linger, wilt and soak in its own grease, under a tray, in a metal tin, somewhere in the kitchens of this disgusting excuse for an eatery. The food was soggy and devoid of flavour. My sausage miserably bled watery grease as I cut into it and the last of its flavour spilled out into the atmosphere around us. I felt mildly nauseous.
Put simply: absolutely everything about Simpsons-in-the-Strand is a disappointment, from the food to the service to the “Grand Divan” dining room itself (woefully in need of refurbishment). Its only saving grace was that the loo seats were clean enough to sit on comfortably. Ignore all other reviews, dear readers, and, above all, avoid Simpsons-in-the-Strand at all costs. I am saddened that The Savoy still recommends it to guests in need of a bite to eat. I hope this changes soon.
Lurvensteen and I returned home disappointed, nauseous and still hungry…
…Weeks later, I found myself on The Strand again and, resisting the urge to firebomb Simpsons and hungry once again for breakfast, I left it to my nose to find a place to eat. What I stumbled across was Crown Cafe-Bar and, for the sum of £5 as opposed to £19.50, I was given this:
And let me tell you readers that, whilst the bacon was a little too greasy and the sausage underwhelming, the toast, eggs, beans and tomatoes were all heavenly. Most of all, however, this humble breakfast was leagues above the quality of Simpsons-in-the-Strand’s insulting excuse for a breakfast and I was in and out of the establishment in under 20 minutes. I was so impressed that I left a tip.
So, next time you find yourselves hungry for a fry-up on the Strand, readers, screw Simpsons: go to Crown Cafe-Bar.