Dino’s Grill & Restaurant, Spitalfields
76 Commercial Street
020 7247 6097
by Megan Bacon
Oh, the joys of sacking off a morning’s work and having breakfast with someone you haven’t seen in ages. Don’t tell anyone, but that’s exactly what I’m up to, as I pick my way past the early-morning traffic and construction work that dominates the Aldgate scenery. In recent years, Commercial Street has been given a face lift by its ever-growing colony of ciabatta eaters and Belgian beer enthusiasts, and I must confess – I am both a ciabatta eater and a Belgian beer enthusiast. But I’m also a sucker for museums, and that is exactly what Dino’s is.
The restaurant hasn’t had a face lift. Nay, while its 1970s shades of olive, brown and yellow are pleasing to the eye, it’s evident that Dino’s hasn’t even subjected to a little bit of Botox. While waiting for my companion to arrive, I’m pretty much the only person there on a Wednesday morning, apart from the man behind the counter (Dino himself?) and a few passing labourers who check in for takeaway bacon butties. The walls are bedecked with posters of long-gone exhibitions and plays, many of which I’d been to. The place is a study in nostalgia. Luckily, I’m the nostalgic sort.
We choose a booth in the corner, and peruse the menu – a no-nonsense list that pairs all your usual breakfast foods in divergent orgies of deliciousness. According to internet lore, the chips are pretty special, but I’m against chip-eating before midday. Being adventurous sorts, we order off-menu: bacon and eggs with toast and tea. We aren’t entirely sure that “Dino” has got our order right, because he doesn’t seem to understand what we were saying, but when the meal is delivered within minutes, it’s all there. A common complaint of London eateries – particularly of the fancier type – is that their food looks fabulous, but lacks bite. Dino’s is the polar opposite – the food looks grim, but tastes good. The bacon has none of the nearly-burnt crispiness of a perfect rasher, but it is surprisingly tasty, particularly when paired with the eggs, which are coloured to perfection in dreamy hues of white and yellow. The toast, too, is a revelation: white, thickly sliced and smothered with full-fat, salted butter. Just like toast used to be. A better start to the day, I can’t possibly imagine. I’ll be back to try the chips.