The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Special Dispatch: St Giles Café, Oxford

St Giles Café
52 St. Giles
City Centre
01865 552 110

by Brian Sauce

I descend upon the city of dreaming spires, scene of a gilded, mis-spent youth, to witness the marriage of an old friend with my wife in tow. My alma mater, which pretends to teach students for a few weeks out of the year, is actually a glorified conference centre and bed and breakfast, and it is to this august establishment that we repair once totally drunk in order to pass out.

There is, however, no question of having breakfast there. In fact, as I stumble along the park railings pointing out local attractions to my long suffering bride in the dead of night, I beg her to eschew our all-included college slops and to visit the St Giles Café with me the following day.

Entering the next morning, slightly the worse for wear but wreathed in smiles of nostalgia and anticipation, I am aghast to see that the place has had an ‘American Diner’ style makeover. However, this must have been a while ago because it is thankfully now as grubby as ever it was. Happy to report also, that the staff are the same, and consistently rude.

My wife is fixating on the beautiful setting of my idle youth, the medieval splendour, the lavish rooms, the Quidditch hoop… but I am gripped by breakfast. Political Correctness has gone mad to the extent that chips are not now served before noon. Or perhaps I never visited this early in days of yore. However a splendid platter of bacon, sausage, eggs, beans and toast arrives in minutes. Or rather, I am shouted at to come and get it.

Beans: firm. Eggs: perfectly runny. Toast: white sliced, pre-larded with salty butter. Sausage: superior supermarket variety. Bacon: the best bit, all crispy fat and wide, thick flavour. By God, Health and Safety have also been at the sachets, warning me not to eat too much salt, shut up. A liberal spray of ketchup is all I wanted anyway.

Are you going to finish that, dear? If there’s one thing better than a big breakfast it’s having one with my wife i.e. a bonus rasher at the end. Love her!

The St Giles Café has enjoyed many continuous years salving the hangovers of stupid children and corpulent construction workers and does one of the better five pound breakfasts you will eat – certainly the best in this provincial setting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was amezed how enourmously rich can British and continental breakfast be in London`s hotels. Will certainly book St Giles next time just because of that.

9:41 PM, July 26, 2010  
Blogger Douglas Blyde said...

Can't beat a bonus rasher...

11:41 AM, August 04, 2010  
Anonymous Martin Alexander said...

Though it's great to have a blast from the past with a good old English fry-up, complete with flavourless, cereal-packed sausages and solid mugs of over-brewed milky tea, potential visitors should beware of the rudeness of staff.

In early 2011 I had an substantial but uneventful breakfast at the St Giles Cafe while I waited for my wife. When she arrived, I left her to the remains of my toast and tea while I went to fetch the motorbike.

In the few minutes that I was away, the cook confronted my wife, accused her of not buying anything, dismissed her explanation, called her a liar told her to leave and threatened to throw her out 'by force' if she didn't.

Shocked, terrified and in fear of the violence that had been threatened, she remonstrated with him and he called for reinforcements in the form of the cops.

I returned to find her traumatised and in tears. The police were sympathetic and supportive of her, and took no action other than to suggest writing a bad review as the most effective response. But we're taking it further.

So if you want a traditionally fried English breakfast, together with the frisson of wondering whether you'll be assaulted - and particularly if you're a woman - I'd heartily recommend Oxford's St Giles Café.

1:36 PM, February 07, 2011  

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