The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Special Dispatch: Lifebuoy Café, Fowey, Cornwall

Important note: The Lifebuoy Cafe has since changed ownership. Please use this review for entertainment and general social reflection purposes only.

The website for the new cafe is While we haven't tried the breakfast yet, from the correspondence we've had with them they seem like people who really care about what they do.

Lifebuoy Café
8 Lostwithiel Street
Fowey, PL23 1BD (Map)

by T. N. Toost

For my third breakfast out in as many days on holiday, I was not surprised to find the Lifebuoy Café – like at least two others we went to - full of familiar Ikea furniture. I liked it, and I liked the beach-themed blue and white interior, and the large open kitchen which took up half of the room. Two women, seemingly mother and daughter, ran the establishment, the mother cooking and the daughter taking orders and shouting abruptly but inoffensively at patrons. The windows were completely steamed up, which gave the place a slightly oppressive feeling.

I had my full English with fried bread, which Annie instantly coveted. It was the most interesting part of the whole meal, the rest of which was nevertheless good and tasted fresh. The eggs and tomato were particularly well done, with the sausage and tea coming in at merely above average. With the fried bread, the whole meal turned into a minor luxury.

Save for the beans: they were the same as everywhere else in Britain. People crave variety and uniqueness in food, yet beans are always tinned. Who has had above-average beans? Below-average? Why is it that this staple of breakfast prides itself on conformity? Do the beans in Fowey remind us of home, and is familiarity, even on holiday, what we seek?

When we paid up, about £5 each, both mother and daughter thanked us, then turned back to their work. Even with the obvious locals at tables and the gossip being shouted across the small space, the obvious dependency on tourist money made it seem like we were giving pennies to beggars. We were disposable, interchangeable money machines, accents and appearance annually altered but one as good as another, year after year. Maybe that’s why all the cafés around Fowey have the same furniture, the same beans – they treat us as they see us, and that’s what we secretly want.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just visited the Lifebuoy Cafe in Fowey today, totaly agree with it being listed in the top 50 best best british breakfasts in todays issue of The Guardian. One comment the steamy windows have now gone as a new extraction system has been fitted. Five stars all round.

8:01 PM, April 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Wife and I visited the Lifbouy Caf'e a couple of days ago. We ordered two cream teas and we were not very happy with them. The rolls were probably bought from Tesco's and just heated in the microwave oven and the owners didn't seem very pleased to see us.

Keep clear of the place.

11:19 PM, September 26, 2008  
Anonymous Dwan Pipe said...

What a super breakfast best i have had in 157 1/2 years, will be going back again soon, best cans of sprite in fowey ummmm

9:05 PM, February 10, 2009  
Anonymous j.lo said...

My Wife and I visited the Lifbouy Caf'e a couple of days ago. We ordered a fillet steak and a mars bar and we were not very happy with them. The mars bar were probably bought from Tesco's and just heated in the microwave oven and the owners didn't seem to like us

9:12 PM, February 10, 2009  
Anonymous PandJG said...

My wife and I had breakfast in the Lifebuoy Cafe in Fowey last week and it was one of the best we've had anywhere. This includes the scrambled eggs, which were miles away from the micro-waved rubbish you are served in hotels the length and breadth of the UK. We were made very welcome by the two ladies and by the local folk already dining there. (Clue: if local folk use a cafe, it's more than likely going to be OK.) On our next trip to Cornwall, we will detour to Fowey just to have breakfast in the Lifebuoy again.

5:03 PM, March 28, 2009  

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