Al's Cafe Bar, Exmouth Market
11-13 Exmouth Market
by Malcolm Eggs
A breakfasting sure thing? The setting certainly seemed promising. Exmouth Market is an excellent little street and sitting outside counting pregnant women (so many! Is some local rogue impregnating them all?) on a sunny bank holiday Sunday it was hard to want to be anywhere else.
The service boded well: glasses of tap water and heart-zappingly strong coffees were delivered without delay or fuss. The breakfast menu looked excellent too, although the pricing had some points of intrigue. A full English costs £5.95 and includes sausage, 2 bacon, fried egg, tomato, mushrooms and 2 toast. At £3.75 a ‘mini breakfast’ comes in at £2.20 less but you only lose the mushrooms and one of the toasts. Fair enough: mini breakfast it was, then.
When it arrived I flipped the bacon and my heart sank. For the third time in recent months I was faced with rashers cooked on one side only. What’s with that? Was I making a fuss by calling the waitress and requesting it be cooked on both sides? Her shruggy expression suggested perhaps I was, but nevertheless she took it away and when it returned it wasn't exactly crispy but at least it was cooked. The rest of the food on my plate nurtured the suspicion that I had just been unlucky. The sausage had the correct OCIS (outer crunch and inner succulence) readings and the egg was just perfect. All my criteria were fulfilled and yet... I could still have eaten more. Such, I realised, is the gamble of the mini breakfast.