The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Baker & Spice, Chelsea

Baker & Spice
47 Denyer Street
020 7589 4734

by Rhys Chris Peese

Eating out falls into two categories: meals that are familiar and comforting, and those that are aspirational. Pub grub? Familiar. Haute cuisine? Aspirational. Breakfast at Baker and Spice manages to be both.

This is how the other half breakfast. My local greasy spoon doesn’t charge ten quid for a plain omelette. Then again, my local greasy spoon doesn’t have an original Warhol print on the wall. Baker and Spice is the sort of place where you wish for one of those menus they give to women at Le Gavroche, which don’t have the prices on. Organic boiled eggs? Three fifty. Freshly squeezed organic blood orange juice? Four fifty. Organic smoked salmon omelette? Twenty nicker.

That said, the food is nearly as impressive as the prices. My pain au chocolat was glazed to a fine crunch, and was blessed with a generous wodge of rich chocolate, rather than the more familiar pair of emaciated chocolate worms that one usually finds in England. The cappuccino was the finest I’ve ever had: a robust coffee, plenty of foam, a mountain of really dark cocoa. Again, quite unlike the usual mimsiness that I’m used to. Even if my companion’s scrambled eggs were a bit too well-beaten, they were perfectly cooked with some really fresh herbs and flavoursome mushrooms.

But then there was the porridge. The texture was exactly the right meeting of bite and gloop. However, it needed to be cooked with salt, or sugar, or both, to take the edge of its natural blandness. And serving it with blueberries offended my Scots ancestry: fresh fruit and Scottish cuisine make awkward bedfellows.

Levels of pregnancy and parenthood are high in Baker and Spice, but levels of bacon are low: the cooked breakfast is only available at the weekend and eggs, pancakes and pastries are the order of the day. They wear their ethical credentials on their orange sleeves, adding ecological comfort to the well-cooked, comforting food. But one can’t help feeling that at these prices, they could be aspiring just that little bit more.


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