The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Monday, September 29, 2008

Docklands Diner, Docklands

Docklands Diner
76 Cannon Drive
West India Dock
E14 4AS
020 7515 7160

by Gracie Spoon

Docklands is an area of unsettling and awe-inspiring new. However, nooked amongst the dizzying glass, salt water smells and box fresh pavements, there are wisps of an East End past of 0171 phone codes and first name familiarity. The Docklands Diner is one such wisp.

Sepia-tinted formica tables with bolted-on plastic chairs, neat clusters of condiments and lace frills claim the 'classic caff' badge of identity. The numerous and very large St George’s flags stake out a different and more ambiguous territory. The five standard brunch options (ranging from £3.60 to £4.90) are served – school dinner style – from rectangular chrome vats behind a glass counter.

Being veggie, the brunches didn't quite match me, and I had some explaining to do. Neither hostile nor unhelpful, the response was nonetheless: “well I don’t know what’s veggie and what ain’t darling”. I attempted some direction. “Um, like, fried slice?” I suggested hopefully, with positive results. “Uh, hash browns? Maybe mushrooms?” I continued. By this point she was getting the idea: “What about tomatoes?”. “Yes. Brilliant. Yes”.

I settled down to an ample plate of promising grease. I wanted to love this breakfast. The retroist in me loved the feel of the place, and the anti-corporate in me saluted it for existing when so many of its comrades have fallen to the armies of advancing Starbucks and Prets. But the breakfast was awful. My coffee was so unremittingly wrong that I didn’t get past two sips. The hash browns, stiffened with age, were a particularly disturbing discovery, while the fried slice left me with a querulous stomach for some hours to come. The fried egg was passable, but had no strong supporting actors to interact with. The grilled tomato was the only real player, a moment of fresh, raw red in aged and overcooked company.

I tried to gain some measure of space from my toughened meal, with a gaze up and away, designed for the middle distance. Instead I found myself looking at photoshopped picture of the Sydney Opera House draped in another very large St George’s Flag. This, I don’t get. On many levels.

Perhaps, I wondered as I made a quick exit, perhaps if my inclinations were a little less vegetarian and a bit more colonial, I would have enjoyed my breakfast more. But as I passed the the impersonal glamour of the banker restaurants 200 metres away, and headed into the expensive shimmer of Canary Wharf, I couldn't help but feel that even if I hated my Diner experience, I'm glad its there to be had.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canary Wharf is like the axis of evil. Avoid!

12:59 PM, September 30, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vegetarians shouldnt be allowed to comment on breakfast. Bugger off to tofusville.

8:47 AM, October 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I quite agree. I am sure that most regular readers inwardly groan when they read the words "I ordered the veggie breakfast." We want to know what the bacon was like, the black pudding, the real sausages made from real dead animals not about an ersatz product that tastes of cardboard. Sometimes these vegetarian reviwers even complain that they didn't enjoy their "sausages." Of course they didn't, vegetarian sausages are by their very nature disgusting. If you're not going to eat meat then have poached eggs on toast or mushrooms or perhaps a croissant or better still just grow up and eat some fucking meat.

10:21 AM, October 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that's a bit harsh.

There are plenty of veggie's who enjoy their breakfast - just because you don't eat meat, don't mean you lack taste buds. And why so angry?

Two words: Lighten up.

11:08 AM, October 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't fret Sausage, my anger is only feigned and I am sure you have a palate more sensitive even than the head blender at Twinings. The point I was trying to make is that if you are going to write about food then you should strive to be as omnivirous as possible. Imagine if Giles Coren didn't eat fish or AA Gill didn't drink wine. . . . oh hang on. . .

2:45 PM, October 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hush children. All this racket is making my muesli cry.

6:13 PM, October 02, 2008  
Blogger oj simpson said...

it's easy - like veggie dishes on a menu, veggie writers could have their names tagged with a green v. that way, as with the dishes, sensible people can spot them easily and avoid.

or they could read the review bearing the reviewer's bias in mind (and at least veggies can always be depended on to make theirs plain to see). often the degree to which some reviewers loathe a restaurant is inversely proportionate to how much i'll love it (in other words: they are cunts, but because i know they are, they are still of some use).

2:10 PM, October 03, 2008  

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