The Gatehouse, Highgate
1 North Road
020 8340 8054
by Hamish Pastry
When tequila-based excess and longstanding family commitments meet head on, things can get messy. So it was that I found myself sprinting for the Highgate-bound 271, half an hour late for breakfast with Aunt Libby.
I was headed for The Gatehouse, a 14th century coaching inn with a theatre upstairs. So far, so Highgate. But step inside and witness the motley crew of boozing pensioners and the rock-bottom prices and one thing soon becomes clear – you’re in a Wetherspoon's.
Personally, I’m a fan of these places. It’s comforting to know there’s somewhere you can get an honestly priced drink in London. The accompanying bar meals however, aren’t exactly gastro. So what sort of breakfasting experience would this be?
Well… it wasn’t half bad. I relayed my order to Aunt Lib from the bus, plumping for the ‘farmhouse breakfast’, which is essentially a double ‘traditional breakfast’. Eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, hash browns, tomato and a large flat mushroom.
By the time I arrived it was already waiting for me, disappointingly minus the mushroom (all out). This was made up for with extra beans and tasty griddled bacon. The eggs were unexpectedly free-range and the toast a pleasant treat – thick-sliced bloomer with poppy seeds. The only real downside was the nasty triangular hash browns (of the Iceland variety). But what really sets this breakfast apart is the price – just £3.69 for the farmhouse and a frankly ridiculous £2.49 for traditional or veggie.
Afterwards, as I stepped out into the crisp February sunshine, one elderly barfly broke into a chorus of ‘Jingle Bells’. A fittingly incongruous end to a breakfast not short of surprises.