The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Belle Epoque, Newington Green

Belle Epoque
37 Newington Green
Newington Green

by Phil English

The average LRB correspondent strikes me as a stout and wholesome figure, the kind of chap or gal who starts the day with a breakfast that would sustain a Victorian infantryman on the march to Balaclava, Cawnpore or Rorke's Drift. The tendency on these pages is towards the more gut- and hangover-busting medleys of egg and porker; a menu policy to which, as my name suggests, I generally lend my full support.

The breakfast at Belle Epoque was not, however, your usual LRB plateful. The Victorian infantryman might have been able to teach a Frenchman a thing or two about bayoneting but, as is invariably the case, the French lead the field in starting the day with finesse.

In my humble opinion the fact that there is only one breakfast option available here speaks volumes for Gallic style and (justified) self-confidence. I would undoubtedly have erred and chosen something more robust had it been available. But, there was only "Le breakfast basket" - and it was an absolute triumph. Four slices of lightly toasted rustic-yet-refined French bread accompanied by delicious Beurre D'Isigny and Bonne Maman strawberry jam were ample for a Tuesday morning. There was also a generous measure of freshly squeezed orange juice and a large cappuccino soaring with cocoa-dusted foam. All this for £4.25 which, I think you'll agree, is an absolute steal in this city of two quid mochas and innocent smoothies.

The venue is a delight as well - light and spacious and airy, with a garden for brighter, less February-ish days. As you would expect there are also pastries and cakes; and you can even buy some quintessential French iron rations, such as asparagus in a jar and tinned cassoulet. There's French music on the stereo and the language itself being spoken by staff and customers. Frankly, who needs the Eurostar?


Anonymous Shob Jibajee said...

Rorkes Drift:
didnt so much march there old boy, as stand still whilst the "average Zulu warrior ran, yes RRAN 20 miles... and fought a battle at the end of it"
I supppose we British marched there at the start but that was in a slow waggon train which frankly you could do on a couple of weetabix and some skimmed milk.
Perhaps I should write about the benefits of the full South Asian breakfast?

4:55 AM, March 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

£4.25 for four slices of toast, an orange juice and a coffee? Feeling that this is reasonable, in my book, is equivalent to justifying the two quid mocha or innocent smoothie.

7:45 PM, March 03, 2007  
Blogger Diane said...

This is a terrible bakery. I ordered a cake for a family party from it. The cake cost £38 and when we got it home it was completely frozen inside. When I complained they refused to give me a refund. I live near the place and it now fills me with a horrible sadness.

8:08 PM, April 16, 2009  

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