Kings Café, Finchley
8 Hendon Lane
020 8346 1778
by Nelson Griddle
Up in the supremely Jewish neighbourhood of Finchley, a plateful of bacon, black pudding and other porky delights might seem an odd way to start the day. Sometimes, though, a cream cheese bagel just won’t cut it, and it was in this spirit that I went to check out the traif at Kings Café one foggy October morning.
First impressions heralded the classic greasy spoon experience. There was a chilled display cabinet full of Coke cans, a fruit machine, an England flag and proudly framed basic food hygiene certificates. Yet after a quick perusal of the big yellow menu over the counter, I began to wonder whether the staff (a team of efficient young Turkish men in yellow pique polo shirts) had really got to grips with the basics of our National Breakfast. Take Set Breakfast No 1, for example, which turns out to be liver, bubble, onions, mushrooms and beans. Set Breakfast No 3, even more alarmingly, is bubble, onions, tomato, mushrooms and – wait for it – spaghetti.
Such outlandishness was enough to prompt me off-menu, plumping for the high-protein option of egg, bacon, sausage and black pudding, plus toast and tea. I settled back, read a left-behind copy of yesterday’s Sun, and waited for the food to arrive.
When it came, my doubts were dispelled. Presentation rarely counts for terribly much in the world of the English Breakfast, but this ample portion, nestling there on a white oval plate had an undeniable visual impact. OK, it’s not nouvelle cuisine, but add a zig-zag of brown sauce and to my eye, this breakfast could have been a hot contender for food-as-art.
The meal scored high taste-wise, too. The egg was beautifully cooked, the bacon gratifyingly crisp, and although the black pudding was a trifle dry, as black pudding often tends to be, I was won over. And with no regrets about skipping the spaghetti.