The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Friday, November 09, 2007

Gastro, Clapham

67 Venn Street
020 7627 0222

by Rhys Chris Peese

There’s something deeply satisfying about seeing something done perfectly, and Gastro does two things perfectly. The first is scrambled eggs. I don’t much like scrambled eggs, but I was wholly won over by the rich buttery flavour and succulent texture. The second is being French. They couldn’t be much more French if they tried. Indeed, the very lack of effort elevates them to further levels of Gallicism. Boy, are they French. Really, really French.

The nicotine-brown bar is replete with mismatched furniture, battered tin adverts for Ricard and posters detailing the seafood of Brittany. But there’s no smack of ‘theme’ here: the bowls of darkly-roasted coffee confirm that this is the real deal. £4.50 gets you a Gastro Special: thick-cut streaky bacon, a small but delicious Toulouse sausage, undercooked tomato, a heap of rather bland mushrooms, and those flawless eggs.

After that, the pain au chocolat was a disappointment: not terrible, but hardly memorable. Having not breakfasted at Gastro in about ten years, the one thing I remembered, and was looking forward to most, was the chocolat chaud bol. Alas, another disappointment; chocolat froid bol. Froid et mélangé insuffisamment. Bof!

Entertainment at the big communal table was provided by the witless, strident public school banter of the students we shared it with. At one point they even compared provision for History of Art courses at Edinburgh, Bristol, York and Durham. But that’s the price you pay for eating in Clapham.

Service is friendly, if insouciant. You expect every request to be met with a ‘peut-être’ rather than a ‘oui’, and indeed the bread we were offered to accompany our breakfasts never appeared: not so much pain-perdu as pain-oublié. Have I mentioned that they really are very, very French?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How times have changed - I haven't been to Gastro in years (but remember it very fondly). In those days, the discussion about the History of Art would have included the course at St Andrews too. I s'pose HRH put paid to that conversation!

I never breakfasted there (is that a verb?) but have had lunch once or twice and more dinners than I can remember... the boudin noir avec pommes was always a winner for me

4:41 PM, November 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is breakfast a verb!

8:01 PM, November 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

zut alors! as tempting as this gallic direction might seem, a saturday morning sojourn amongst the sou'westers is surely better off aiming for jack's.

11:02 AM, November 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe they did mention St. Andrews. And that was just the tip of the inane conversational iceberg.

Thanks for the recommendation: I'll give Jack's a go.

11:52 AM, November 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not know how I could praise the breakfast at this place enough. It feels like going on holiday. It is reasonably priced and I have always thought of it as the best breakfast in London: yes, the scrambled eggs clinch it. Never found the tomatoes underdone, but more sunblushed and I like the way they are covered in herbs. Never was given cold coffee, and I always got bread when I asked for it: baguette with nice jam and real butter. There used to be a couple of blond twin sisters waitressinbg when I frequented it that really tied the dining experience togther. Oh an if you sat at the big table it was normally chefs arguing in French for entertainment.

10:57 AM, May 24, 2008  
Anonymous Dave said...

I love Gastro, the eggs benedict is always perfect and the bowl of hot chocolate is killer but I do know what you mean about the service, I'm not sure whether they just forget your bread/water/drink order or they just think you you don't need it and can do without.

12:19 PM, February 08, 2013  

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