The Ambassador, Clerkenwell
55 Exmouth Market
020 7837 0009
by Vita Bicks
Ah, breakfast with friends. Does London – does life? – offer any greater pleasure? Who among us does not relish its familiar sacraments: the distribution of newspaper supplements, the kisses between the coffee cups, the discussions of literature and politics over the bacon…?
In truth, alas, this is the stuff of orange juice adverts. In the real world, where people have hangovers, communal breakfast generally descends into an unseemly tussle over the magazine, while conversation oscillates between the recriminatory (“I can’t believe X/Y/Z did X/Y/Z”) and the functional (“Pass the sauce”). And who has time for kissing when there’s toast on the table? So this weekend, with my habitual cafe partner awol in the Caucasus, I skipped down to risibly modish Exmouth Market for a genuine treat: breakfast for one. Because, doncha know, I’m worth it.
Décor-wise, the Ambassador straddles the tricky line between minimalism and airport lounge, but on a baking July morning, its cool cream-and-green interior was soothing. Less soothing were the prices. At £3.50, the yoghurt and muesli was affordable - but who leaves the house for muesli? No, I decided: in for a penny, in for £7.50. I plumped for scrumptious-sounding buttermilk pancakes with treacle bacon and banana compote, and settled down with a cup of smooth-as-silk Guatemalan filter and my very own paper with a sigh of contentment.
Service was somewhat sluggish, and portion size unnervingly modest - but my first bite was a foretaste of heaven. The pancake, dense but fluffy, would grace a New York breakfast table; its syrupy sweetness was perfectly counterpointed by the smoky bacon and tangy banana. This is delicious but economically unsustainable breakfasting (£11.20! without booze!), which is why I recommend that you do as I did, and take someone you really love.