The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Little Chef, Popham, Hampshire

Little Chef
A303 Popham Services
SO21 3LP
01256 398490
Open from 7am

by Shreddie Kruger

What better way to start Valentine’s Day than to wake up at 5.30am and drive for two hours before dawn to a service station, where two other couples are meeting you for breakfast?

We arrived giddy with childish enthusiasm. Insanely charming Little Chef artwork in each of the parking bays had us smitten before we even got out of the car park.

When we got inside, things went from good to great. In an homage to Michelangelo on the one hand, and as a piss take of the prat in charge of Little Chef on the other, the ceiling tiles are painted to look like the sky. Other strokes of ingenuity include singing toilets, with tiles that offer up nuggets of cooking advice such as “use salt to take away bitterness, not sugar”. Who needs cookbooks when you’ve got... tiles?

With our team of 6 we divided and conquered. Girls gave thumbs up to omelettes, porridge, yoghurt, bacon sandwiches and scrambled eggs, even if they were a bit rubbery.

Boys manfully tackled the Olympic breakfast. We’d all opted for beans over tomatoes so when our heaving plates arrived with tomatoes balanced on the side we felt miffed. We politely murmured a complaint but were told we were wrong. Oddly this matronly service was brilliantly comforting.

Bacon was the perfect thickness and crispiness. We nodded approval at the thyme-infused mushrooms and sherry vinegar-anointed fried eggs, which poured out their yolky hearts like a kiss and tell whore having dinner with Max Clifford. Crisp toast, sliced from a fresh bloomer, mopped up their filthy stories with aplomb. Black pudding was a triumph. All was going so well.

Until sausagegate. Anaemic and grey, they tasted of the manufacturing rather than the pork. And we soon discovered the ketchup wasn’t from Heinz. Some raving psychopath had switched it for something with the acidic burn of battery acid and sweet kick of treacle. Predictably, our unwanted tomato was a let down too.

Putting sausage, tomato and ketchup mishaps to one side, however, this was a fine start to a great day. Because this was always more than just about breakfast. This was about hope. This is a new dawn for both Little Chef and - hopefully - the country as a whole. If somewhere as bad as Little Chef can turn itself around… then surely we can get Mighty Blighty back on track. All we need is a bad brief, some “blue sky thinking” and Heston Blumenthal’s genius. Who’s in?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a shame about the sausages. I am desperate to go and try it out though. Ever since the C4 programmes I have been borderline obsessed. Why are they not doing this menu in more restaurants? Annoying.

12:19 PM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a shame about the sausages which are the backbone of a good breakfast. I am hoping it was an aberration.

We had a wonderful time - I hav got my fingers crossed that they roll the concept out across their network.

If you're interested here are the photos from our trip. I love the tiles and cartoons.

1:12 PM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eee hee hee Shreddie Kruger!

5:30 PM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweet dreams "Anonymous". I'll get you.

6:09 PM, February 18, 2009  
Blogger Joos de Littlemore said...

There are a thousand small owner-operated cafes up and down the country, run by people who can cook, and who prepare meals from fresh local ingredients. So we need to support a ghastly chain run by a megalomaniac, that specialises in boil-in-a-bag food prepared by people who CAN'T cook? I don't think so! That's NOT a New Britain.

10:40 AM, February 19, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a ghastly chain run by a megalomaniac, that specialises in boil-in-a-bag food prepared by people who CAN'T cook?"

That sounds a lot like the New Britain to me.

10:51 AM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Nicey said...

Superb blog I am loving it !!!


10:34 AM, February 20, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great review oh masters of brunchtime!

8:14 PM, March 21, 2009  
Blogger A Lovely Life said...

Went last week - the sausages were shockingly small but the decor was amazing.

8:27 AM, March 22, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry folks ,been to POPHAM looks like a cheap dive not very friendly at all,dont feel good on the long benches around the side feel sort of out of it.did not find the food good either.averything with large amounts of salt on it or in it,how about make up your own breakfasts ,like eggs on toast bacon beens fried onions fried bread ect ,na cant have that wot you think your hungry ,need loads more veg stuff ,for the non meat people.

6:49 PM, August 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last comment was good as i had the same problem getting food that i wanted to eat and not what the chef felt like he wanted to cook also found the surroundings tacky,cant stand kids running around with their breakfasts hanging out of their mouths,cant we learn or teach our young people to sit down when they are eating, did not do it for me,wont be back until it changes to at least the old menu

7:00 PM, August 16, 2009  

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