The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

About the London Review of Breakfasts

We love going out for breakfast. We love the hungry hours of anticipation before we decide on a venue. We love the splendid taste of expertly cooked, herb-filled sausages, the aromatic texture of crispy bacon, the burst of yellow yolk as a knife breaks the surface tension. We love piping hot beans, buttered toast and squidgy grilled tomatoes. We love to wash it all down with a reassuring cup of tea as - deliriously hungover - we babble about the dodgy antics of the night before.

But we hate bad breakfasts. We hate nudging limp forks at greasy microwaved sausages, miserable pink bacon and the clear and runny white of an unloved fried egg. We hate beans that are room temperature and bread that's only toasted on one side. We despise cold hard tomatoes. Hate it when we order tap water and it never comes and we don't know what to say to each other and we have a relationship crisis and suddenly everything seems too cramped and stuffy and the night before embarrassing.

The "full English" refers not to our technological, cultural or military achievements. No: we live in a country where the 'full us' proudly refers to the first meal of the day. And yet here, in that country's capital, there seem to be (far) more bad breakfast opportunities than good ones: Cafe Euro Med in Kentish Town, the Bishop in East Dulwich and Mac Bar in Camden, to name but a few recent crying failures.

And so we bring you a new champion: the London Review of Breakfasts. Because we've had enoeuf.

Malcolm Eggs, Site Editor
August 2005

What the papers say:

"With reviews from a panel of testers, your first (and most important) meal of the day need never be a disappointment again." (Time Out "50 Best London Websites" Feb 2008 - full article here)

"Reviews written in the style of maths equations and Mills & Boon novels. Fun to read even if you never eat out before lunchtime." (The London Paper, 20 Dec 2007 - click here)

"Quirky look at eating around London..." (The Guardian - 'Best of British' blogs, 9 Nov 2007 - here)

"Reviewers include Cathy Latte, Chris P Bacon, Ed Benedict, Rhys Chris Peese, HP Seuss and, my personal favourite, Veggie Kray. These, I submit to Eggs, are not their real names." (Stuart Jeffries in The Guardian, 6 Aug 2007 - full article here)

"A band of breakfast-obsessed radicals - each armed with a punning nom de plume - write reviews of the most important meal of the day with the same amount of seriousness, humour and interest as you would bestow on Ian McEwan's latest novel." (The Independent on Sunday, 'Talk of the Town', 1 Oct 2006 - see here)

"Armed only with rigour and a good, strong mug of tea, the LRB’s dedicated critics, led by Malcolm Eggs, review the most full-on English fry-ups in the capital, writing with humour and literary elan... Whether you seek bacon and eggs in Balham or succulent sausages in Shoreditch, the LRB ensures never again having to suffer the indignities of soggy bubble and squeak." (Sunday Times, five star review, 25 Jun 2006 - full article here)

"An idiosyncratic and well-written guide, whose authors' powers of description could never be described as cliched." (The Times, 'Blog of the Week', 8 April 2006)

"Given the recent controversy within these pages about the art (and cost) of decent breakfasting in London, we thought it would be a good idea to point readers in the direction of [the London Review of Breakfasts], a really rather excellent website devoted to London's premier breakfast experiences. There's no snobbery here: classic caff E Pellicci of Bethnal Green is reviewed alongside the more salubrious (if less characterful) Charlotte Street Hotel, and there's even a mention of Garfunkel's at Heathrow Airport." (Time Out, 'London Website of the Week', 7 Feb 2006)

"It is, as we all know, the most important meal of the day, and this site is a comprehensive guide to the best hangover beating breakfasts to be had across the capital. It's very well written, and is growing all the time, so there's bound to be something near you." (Evening Standard, 'London on the Web', 6 Feb 2006)

"We've been monitoring this brekkie blog carefully and it's very good indeed. In fact it could be said to be a little 'too good' as our breakfasting standards have now shot up to ludicrous levels and we often find ourselves hankering for a fried egg at the weirdest of times." (Londonist, 7 Dec 2005 - full article here)

"A little London-centric." (The Birmingham Plus forum)

"Very amusing." (The Australian, 28 July 2007 - bottom of this page)


Anonymous Bay Konsani said...

How do we stand on the tea vs coffee debate in accompaniment to a full english? As an ordinarily ardent coffee drinker I always defer to tea to wash away the inevitable greasy aftertaste that fried food conjours in the mouth. Coffee just doesn't cut the mustard, if you'll pardom the rather unpalatable mixed metaphor. I couldn't help but notice that Blake Pudding chose a coffee to round-off his eggs benedicte chez Patiserie Valerie. I can understand his instinct to order coffee in such an estimed bohemian setting, but surely this proves a certain weakness in his judgement. What next; kippers with brown sauce?

1:54 PM, October 10, 2005  
Blogger London Review of Breakfasts said...

Personally, I order a hot beverage appropriate to the nature of the establishment.

The more lowbrow greasy spoon type places often tend to be weak on coffee and yet strong on nice hearty mugs of builder's tea. The more 'silver spoon' end of the spectrum, however, is often populated by highly adept baristas who know nothing of decent tea and will kill it outright by, for example, serving it in a glass. Sheer villainy.

So in this instance I see where Blake was coming from.

Any thoughts on the apple / orange juice schism?

2:40 PM, October 10, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Admit it this website was setup purely as a means to include the "we've had enoeuf" pun.

10:49 AM, October 25, 2005  
Anonymous Chris P. Rasher said...

Neither tea nor coffee ever pass my lips...but a glass of ice cold milk is perfect accompaniment to a salty, runny, meaty brekkie, while creating a free comedy moustache into the bargain.
Canteen in Spitalfields - pure joy, but beware. Yes, roast potatoes are heavenly with Eggs Benedict, as are the wild mushrooms on toast...but our greedy guts fell back to earth with a £34 bill for two!

1:20 PM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger Valentino Florentino said...

Ahh, but 'silver spoon' end establishments do a much wider variety of teas from which to choose from. Why constrain yourself to coffee when for a set price you can sample a range of flavours to match each breakfast course? Try, for example, Simpson's-in-the-Strand. For £16 you get a cereal starter (with pastry), freshly squeezed orange juice and a hearty full English, all in very formal surroundings, ideal for when you want to treat yourself to that special breakfast.

8:11 AM, February 08, 2006  
Anonymous Charlie Black-Pudding said...

You people are quite clearly mad. I salute you. Moving on to the tea vs coffee debate; I have recently given up coffee in the morning because I got fed up with relying junkie-style on my double espresso. Now coffee's a strictly afternoon affair when I am completely convinced that I am awake. Tea for me every time, particularly as a black tea drinker. Any tea you can stand the spoon in is what you need to compliment a fry up.

6:32 PM, April 25, 2006  
Anonymous E. Toast said...

I find that the more careworn caffs fry the majority of their breakfast, whereas those fancier of pant prefer to grill. Builders' tea, with all those hardy tannins, washes away that fried grease, as well as delivering a small, utterly ungrounded sense of healthfulness. It's like eating a few florets of broccoli with a lovely big pie. You're not fooling anyone but, rather importantly, yourself.

Juice: apple, every time. Cheap orange juice is like sticking a battery on the end of your tongue. ethhhhhhh

4:38 PM, July 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was long troubled by the tea/coffee conundrum, until I realised that there is a natural balance between the two.

Once starts the day with tea, a refreshing drink that enhances, rather than obliterates, the meaty breakfast flavours.

By mid morning, it is time for a rich dark cup of coffe, accompanied by sweet pastries or chocolate, the stimulants required to make it through to lunch.

The pendulum naturally swings back for afternoon tea, a hot cup to be taken on a hot day, accompanied by a cold sandwich or two.

After a large and satisfying dinner, coffee once again comes into its own to help modify the stupifying effects of five courses, and to contrast pleasantly with the port.

5:38 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger Tim Footman said...

Green tea. More specifically, Japanese genmai-cha.

I shall say no more.

3:09 AM, August 19, 2006  
Anonymous Giles Coren Flakes said...

Bay konsani raises an interesting debate. I'm a coffee man. In fact, I normally get my coffee order in even before setting eyes on the breakfast menu but I agree with him (and others here) that coffee probably doesn't go so well with a full english as a milky mug of builder's tea, which after all is sometimes known as English Breakfast. The issue of dunking, however, needs to be raised at this juncture. I cannot imagine anyone- with the exception perhaps of Proust and his madeleine- choosing to dunk a pastry into tea rather than a frothy cup of coffee, or, for that matter, hot chocolate. I'd argue that the latter may well be the shrewd breakfaster's hot beverage of choice.

12:23 PM, October 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Say "the full English" slowly and you will not fail to comprehend that TEA is the natch beverage rather than the continental muck called Coffee.No juice for purists,as it is an invention of the cousins.But an infinitely more important question-should the toast not always be accompanied by MARMALADE(with the full English)?

3:50 PM, October 20, 2006  
Blogger London Review of Breakfasts said...

On a recent outing to the slightly scary Cafe Diana in Notting Hill my companion made an ouef-piste order of toast and marmite with poached eggs on top. When it was transmuted by the waitress's mishearing ways into the same dish, but with marmalade instead of marmite, I had an epiphany: egg yolk and marmalade should never meet.


4:32 PM, October 20, 2006  
Anonymous adrian said...

I love a full english in the morning.Best place to have it is a coffee shop in south London- Streatham.You have to wait 20 min for it but its worth it.

6:10 PM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger MsMarmitelover said...

Cafe euro-med does a brilliant home-made chili sauce. Perhaps it's best not to order English food from them.

10:23 PM, March 04, 2009  
Anonymous Malcolm Eggs said...

I see Cafe Euro Med has met its end now anyway, which means two of three disappointing examples I listed here (Mac Bar went ages back) are now dead. Watch yourself, The Bishop - although you seem to be doing perfectly well selling lager to people on holiday from Penge.

8:46 AM, September 15, 2009  
Blogger Greedy Diva said...

Fabulous blog! I would add one more thing to the list of breakfasting irritations - the water glass that smells like egg. Disgusting. On tea vs coffee - COFFEE, unless it's the type of place that serves lattes in a ridiculous milkshake sized glass, in which case hot chocolate.

10:49 AM, November 22, 2009  
OpenID shoreditchbakes said...

Because I really like your blog, I nominated you for the ‘One Lovely Blog Award’. You can see it here:


9:29 AM, July 16, 2012  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

I just found your site. I wonder if this would be of interest? Full Englii in Madrid...

10:02 PM, January 04, 2013  

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