40 Exmouth Market
020 7833 3533
by Blake Pudding
I have to confess an acquaintance here. I met the head chef of Medcalf Tim Wilson in Edinburgh a few months ago and we got royally drunk together. Furthermore, I have known the assistant chef Andrew "Hoggy" Hogg since I was born. At the LRB, however, we pride ourselves on our scrupulous objectivity - an establishment will stand, or fall, on the quality of its breakfast. For this visit I was with Ed Benedict and the doyenne of the craft renaissance Danielle Proud.
The quality of the ingredients here was never in doubt. The bacon was dry-cured and well-flavoured, the large field mushroom divine, the black pudding addictively nutty and the slow roasted tomatoes were worth travelling from Balham to try (not that I live in Balham). Any problems? The excellent grilled sourdough bread that accompanied the meal was inexplicably drizzled with olive oil; butter or dripping would have been preferable. Ed complained that his scrambled eggs were too runny but, as I have mentioned before on this site, Mr Benedict has odd tastes in eggs. I had a more pertinent eggy complaint in that my egg was brown on one side and still raw on the other. This would have been acceptable in a Green Lanes greasy spoon but when I am paying £8.50 then this is inexcusable. Ed's smoked salmon and scrambled eggs came in at £6.95. Here lies the problem with Medcalf; the prices suggest perfection whereas the food is merely very good.