The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Puccino's, Surbiton

6 Victoria Road
020 8390 9193

by H.P. Seuss

I awoke in Surbiton.

It is not a sentence one utters with pride. In fact, it is not a sentence I would wish on anyone. But there it is: I awoke in Surbiton, after a so-so-biton party in the suburbiton semi of some Surbiton acquaintances.

It may look like any other patch of suburbia, but there's something about Surbiton, a delicate tyranny, an inoffensive apocalypse that gives me the willies. I was in a hurry to leave, but given the impending trek North-Eastwards, my companions and I opted to fortify ourselves with a decent breakfast. We alighted on a brightly innocuous place called Puccino's, part of an expanding chain.

For £4.95 I enjoyed a double full English, which happily dispatched with my burgeoning hangover. I felt slightly cheated by the sausages, which were split in half to be cooked in a panini press, but the core bacon and eggs, and vegetable constituents were perfectly agreeable.

Most striking about Puccino's though, was its customer interface (to use the sort of term that I'm sure was bandied around the boardroom where the idea was spawned). Their packaging comes emblazoned with such legends as "pointless biscuit", "crappy chocolate" and "rubbish flapjack", while the wall displays and menus abound with such defensive self-deprecation. I
found it all rather distasteful, a feeling which increased when I logged on to their website to find that Puccino's is the largest coffee franchise in the UK. Presumably these sinister stabs at humour are an attempt to soften the image of a company which must have squeezed dozens of genuinely characterful cafes out of business.

As our train trundled towards Waterloo, my tongue teasing a scrap of bacon from my teeth, I shuddered. Sly and serviceable, Puccino's is the epitome of the Surbitonisation of the English breakfast, a trend which should be resisted in all its forms.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should have gone to the surbiton Cafe just round the corner. Proper full english, excellent value. Doesn't look much, but I would rather go there than a chain. coffee not good.

12:02 PM, April 18, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're glad to have left Surbiton - well Surbiton is glad you've gone!!

9:08 AM, September 06, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll second the Surbiton cafe as a proper greasy spoon for a real fry up. Don't have the shepherds pie though, you'll regret it.

And what's with all the anti-Surbs hate? Just because we're in Surrey doesn't make us all surburban drones, you know.

1:25 PM, August 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

surbiton is really nice, shut up

4:46 PM, March 05, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see what this reviewer is doing now.

The review smacks of the classic 'snobbery' of someone who lives in some 'pleasantly edgy' part of London like Harlesden or Tooting when young, but then invariably moves right out into the sticks or back up north a few years later.

Puccinos itself closed down a couple of years ago. Not the best breakfast to be had in Surbiton, but not the worst either.

2:23 PM, June 07, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just come across this review 13 years after it was posted, just because I was searching google to see what had happened to Puccinos. It seems that the chain was resurrected in part after going into administration in 2009, but this Surbiton branch is now run as an independent.

I laughed along with the last comment above (2011!), because the attitude of this reviewer is exactly what I have come across after years of living in Surbiton - looking down on those who live further out in suburbia because they live in a 'cooler' and more central part of London, but then end up in Swindon, Woking or Hull a few years later...

2:06 PM, February 13, 2019  

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