The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Friday, May 09, 2008

Toads Mouth Too, Brockley

Toads Mouth Too
188 Brockley Road
Brockley
SE4 2RN
020 8469 0043

by Holly N. Daise

Is it a restaurant? Is it a café? One thing is for sure: Toads Mouth Too is a labyrinth of disappointment.

Stretching to cater for all possible mealtime requirements, the menu doesn’t really cover any of them in much depth. Breakfast fare includes fruit, muesli and a selection of pastries, but for the full English enthusiast, the only option here is the ‘Full Toad’ (toast, eggs, 2 bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans and choice of Cumberland sausage or chorizo).

If you enjoy the customisable aspect of your breakfast, then you may be frustrated by the occasional rigidity here. Poached egg appears to be beyond the ability of the chef, as is making small exceptions for individuality of taste. You can try asking them to swap various features, but this usually receives a despondent reaction.

On this occasion, I ordered the Full Toad and enquired about the possibility of swapping the mushrooms for a hash brown (a feature of the vegetarian equivalent). To my surprise this was agreed to with little resistance as my order was pecked into a handheld computerised gadget by the joyless waiter. Two clues into the Sunday crossword, I overheard a man on an adjacent table also asking for a mushroom/ hash brown swap, only to be told, “I can ask the chef, but I can’t guarantee he’ll do it.”

What is it exactly the chef finds so erratically difficult about spooning a hash brown onto a plate instead of some mushrooms?

Interrupting thoughts like this my food arrived and was a major letdown. Everything on the plate appeared to be swimming in a soup of tepid beans, the portion of chorizo was miserably small and the two pieces of bacon were welded together in an impenetrable embrace. For an order costing nearly £10 it was pretty dismal.

It’s a shame that the breakfast here is always so disappointing because the place itself has a lot of potential. There’s an assortment of charming subterranean rooms ornamented with original art and a surprisingly peaceful garden. These attractions plus the homemade cakes and excellent coffee could make it still worth a visit, if you’re in Brockley and that’s what you want.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been eating in the 'Toads Mouth Too' for years and have never found staff to be joyless or the menu lacking in choice, size or taste. In fact one of the reasons I always return is that the staff are so consistently polite and kind and I genuinely love the food. The fact that you even complain about their method of taking orders suggests that you are just finding fodder for the verbosity of your blog and, dare I suggest, that there might be a reason why you, in particular, have found them despondent and joyless.

4:52 PM, August 18, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the above, whenever I am at the toads mouth too, I have never been disappointed and have always found the staff nice and happy to take the order. My mouth waters at the thought of the bacon baguette, and they do not mind when I ask it to be well done. Please do not be put off by the first review, for I feel it does not do the Toads Mouth Too justice.

5:37 PM, August 18, 2008  
Anonymous Brockley resident said...

It doesn't cost nearly £10! When this review took place it would have been more like £7. Add in coffee or juice and you appraoch £10 - but that's not clear here...

11:18 AM, August 27, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above review is perfectly justified because 'Toads Mouth Too' biggest problem is it is so erratic. Service can be pleasant or non existent. Indeed unless I have over an hour to spare I wouldn't consider going in. Their policy of breakfast modification is ridiculously rigid. Oh and now they don't take cards, guess they should have told me before I spent £20, and had to leave an I.O.U. And the revolving 'art' exhibitions are mostly an embarassment.

7:05 PM, October 13, 2008  
Anonymous Psyche9 said...

I love Toad's Mouth but I have to agree with this review in many respects. I'd recommend this place for tea / coffee and cakes, snacks and for lunches/evening meals, but not for a cooked breakfast. I hled a party here one evening where I used one of the rooms - the food was fabulous, but I wouldn't come here for breakfast. Most of the waiting staff are great - I think breakfast is where the place falls apart and everyone gets stressed.

9:15 AM, December 29, 2008  
Blogger Tressillian James said...

Love the breakfasts at Toads - as do my weekend guests - always insisiting on a visit. It's great to have an eclectic menu that seems to find something for everybody - and the Full Toad is a joy of a hangover cure. Yes the staff (mainly local art students) can be variable - but usually all are polite and friendly.

7:26 PM, February 25, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never had the breakfast but I have had coffee and croissants. Always good and I am a coffee snob. Staff have always been pleasant enough.
By the way, the evening meals are excellent. extremely good value and a unique atmosphere.

5:03 PM, March 06, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had one of the worst eating experiences of my life at the Toad. The 'chilli' lentil stew was absolutely tasteless, and for £8.25very overpriced. All of our drink orders were wrong, and my meal arrived 10 minutes after my companions, which obviously ruins the ambiance of a meal. When we pointed this out and asked for some money to be taken off the bill the whole place erupted into an unpleasant Fawlty Towers-esque drama. The waitress and chef were vying to blame one another for the mistake, and kept interjecting with comments whilst we tried to explain what had happend to the woman on the till. She was thoroughly moody and argued the toss with us, whilst allowing the chef to repeatedly interrupt. The lack of grace and understanding of customer services (particularly when one is charging £8.25 for food which a student could cook better for less than £1) was shocking. This place is benefiting from 'The Emperors new clothes' effect, where its regular clietele are obviously being sucked in by the superficial 'hippy-boho' charm of the place. It does has a charming garden and is in a lovely building, but the food is simply not that good, and certainly not value for money. The Full Toad English breakfast costs £7.25, but you have to pay an extra 50p for a sausage! On what plain of reality does a full English breakfast not automatically come with a sausage?And for £7.25 (+50p if you want one of the essential ingredients) the toasted bread should be fresh, door step thick, not a slice of mothers pride, which is what it comes with. Rubbish.

10:41 AM, August 03, 2009  
Blogger Christopher Graham said...

It's pricey. Better food, service and prices at the place opposite the station. Can't remember the name - sorry not very helpful.

7:30 PM, August 06, 2009  
Anonymous spincat said...

I've been going here on and off since it opened - it is one of the few places in the area with a really nice garden and the garden, coffee and cakes always draw me back.

The cooked breakfasts are disappointing: I took friends twice for breakfast (because all previous experiences had been good) and it was embarrassing both times, so won't do the breakfast again. All other experiences have been great - lunches, coffee and cakes. I went with a group of 12 once and we all loved the evening meal.

Staff are mostly great but there have been some bust ups: the staff/cooking area seems designed for stress and conflict and i think they would improve a lot if this was redesigned to give them an easier time of it.

7:49 AM, January 17, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Full Toad is one of the great breakfast experiences, and is their signature meal. One of the best. I'd like tea in a mug rather than wide cup, but really, this is a great start to the day. Evening meals are a bit pricey, but I love this place and think it is a bit of a highlight of Brockley

5:14 PM, December 05, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been to TTMT countless times and have never left feeling disappointed. The staff are warm, the food great - if a little pricey, but they use good quality ingredients so I'm happy to pay it (go in the evening too, the meals are divine).
So what if they use electronic means to take an order? Is that *really* a problem? And so what if it's cash-only? I got caught out the first time too, but there's a cashpoint across the road. No biggy. People find the strangest things to complain about!

Please don't be put off by this blog, TTMT is wonderful, utterly charming, and well worth a visit.

6:03 PM, June 02, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm... I agree with many of the positives and negatives alike from earlier posts. It's a nice place to go for coffee and cake and the staff are usually very friendly. There's one guy in particular who makes many of the cakes and he takes great joy in telling us what's on offer that day.
I go there often with my laptop to work during the day (there's free wi-fi) and I've never felt pressured to keep buying stuff in order to keep my seat - they're happy for you to sit with a coffee for hours. For me, anyway, this is a plus.
However, the rest of the menu, beyond the pastries and cakes, routinely disappoints and it really is quite pricey. The cooked vegetarian breakfast is poor and, dare I say it, not a patch on Wetherspoons next door...

1:57 PM, June 16, 2011  

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