The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Engineer, Primrose Hill

The Engineer
65 Gloucester Avenue
Primrose Hill

by Corin Flakes

Breakfast in celebrated gastro-pub The Engineer - with its Brooklyn garden, its complicit air of middle-class serenity - should be fantastically smug. The brazen expense (the menu reads like the window of a Mayfair estate agent) gives faith that the ingredients, and their dexterous preparation, will be worthwhile. Reclining in sun-kissed splendour – ivy snaking down the period brickwork - Ed Benedict and I readied ourselves for something special.

Our initial assessment was uniform positivity. The sausage looked prodigious, amply stuffed with zesty herbs, and it collided with succulent, salted tomatoes. The bacon was skilfully charred; under inspection from a probing knife, it crunched with inviting, fleshy smokiness. As Ed tucked into mushrooms on toast (the presentation charmingly wild, advanced by parmesan and peppery rocket), he commented on their quality, though mourned the mysterious absence of strong flavours. Sadly, the toast was thick as hay bales, and impatiently underdone.

Forward-thinking gastronomes emphasise the importance of perception in the dining experience and here, everything seemed set. What I hadn’t anticipated were the throaty intrusions of another diner. The adjacent American grimly declared her eggs were “like, way rotten”, then thrust an accusatory fork at my poached pair, which, I thought, were wonderfully done, flowing with tantalising lava. I suspect the subtle dash of vinegar confused her parochial palette, yet my breakfast was plagued by hellish visions of a day spent praying weakly over the sink. It’s impossible to enjoy a meal when death looms, waiting to collect your plate and steal your soul.

I’d recommend the Engineer – just blockade yourself in unilateral isolation. The Special Relationship means nothing at breakfast.


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