Shoreditch House, Shoreditch
020 7739 5040
(Members and guests only)
by Malcolm Eggs
As you enter, the clientele look you up and down. They check your shoes, observe your hair and guess your position in life’s unwritten hierarchy. “I’m in Shoreditch House. Who are you?” go their internal monologues – over and over and over, like coked up metronomes.
As with all members’ clubs, this is about the childhood desire to be included rather than excluded, or rather what happens to this basic need when it’s masked with grown-up condiments: bricks, mortar, a marketing plan, money, chefs, other stuff and – at Shoreditch House – a great interior designer. The décor really sweeps you away, each sofa being as rejuvenating as an upmarket milkshake, each chandelier having its own personality, every cascade of bookshelves scattered with yellowed manuscripts, old globes, antique cameras, board games... Oh god, it’s mesmerising. Like the secret HQ of a creative industries Bond villain. A waiter briskly delivers aromatic coffee and cool iced water to us both – and as I wait for my Full English I sink into a sort of comfortable acceptance and find myself ranking the people who were looking at me as I entered.
Everything about my breakfast is wonderful. Apart from the emptiness at its heart. And I don’t mean that metaphorically; I mean that the bacon and eggs – surely the Romeo and Juliet of any proper fry-up – are a disgrace. The sausage, mushrooms, beans, toast and tomatoes are perfect, juicy, hot, perfect and juicy respectively – but so what? When the egg has the wrong things in common with frogspawn, and the bacon shares the wrong values with Ian Beal, everything else is a consolation prize, a wooden spoon, Christina from the 1990s Neighbours twins.
They say a members’ club gets the breakfast it deserves. In a strange way, I think I wanted Shoreditch House to deserve better. I don’t know why. Maybe it got to me with its almost preposterous comfiness, or maybe the urge to be a paid-up member of something – dormant since I joined Desparate Dan’s Cowpie Eaters Club at the age of 8 – is still rattling around in there, somewhere.