The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Brill Restaurant and Cellar Bar, King's Cross

The Brill Restaurant and Cellar Bar
Omega Place
6-8 Caledonian Road
King's Cross
N1 9DT

by Salmon de Beauvoir

On my left there’s the psychotically painted façade of Tony’s Hemp Corner. On my right, the boarded-up windows and doors of The Flying Scotsman: strip-pub. This is the unlikely location of The Brill, a sophisticated-looking British eatery on Cally road, close to King’s Cross.

Everything’s beige and demure – and clean, which is ultimately why I go in (they also boast a dedicated breakfast/brunch menu). As the nervously smiling eastern European waitress shows me to a table (quelle elegance!), I approvingly note the artwork: watercolours of fish on plates. It’s not worth writing home about in any way, but it nicely counteracts the rather stiff atmosphere. Everywhere, couples sit quietly and obediently and wait for their food, which, let me tell you, is quite a wait. My companion comments that this bodes well, that a full English should take time to prepare.

Just as I start contemplating the disparity between this place’s deçor and its low prices (£4.50 for salmon and scrambled, £5.50 for full English) the food arrives. Aha! The Brill have aped the formula of the nearby St Pancras Champagne Bar: tiny bits of chopped-up smoked salmon nearly disappearing in a nightmare of overcooked scrambled eggs. Nothing stays together on my plate and the low price is suddenly explained. My companion's full English is “reasonable” – for the price, and for what you ordinarily get in London, but I feel like I was led to believe there’d be at least ‘Taste the Difference’-standard sausages, or slices of dense, “it’s-my-Polish-gran’s-recipe” bread. The absence of the advertised fried bread only makes matters worse. I wish I could tell you that their chrome espresso machine delivers something to savour, but alas, the cappuccino is some kind of mini Lait Russe.

It seems as if the owners spent all their money on the bohemian yellowy glass jars containing candles so could only afford to offer an uninteresting breakfast. I feel quite let down. From the waitress’ smile, the watermarked menu paper and the splendid name, I’d simply expected more. The old proverb has been proved right yet again; don’t judge a brekkie joint by the decorative mini trees flanking its entrance.

Oh, and they didn’t have any pastries... Scandal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How disappointing! I pass by this place on my way to work and had been intrigued by its gleaming beige interior and promise of British food. Maybe the dinner menu is better. Time Out seemed to like it in their review, anyway.

1:28 PM, March 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to the take-away side of the enterprise for lunch and ordered a Brill burger.

One of the 'cooks' had a real attitude about the number of burgers that he was having to cook.

The burger was well-cooked, the beef pattie was very thick and flavoursome and the bun and salad were excellent.

For £5 a throw, it is at the middle of the range for 'gourmet' burgers, but it is well worth it.

Word to the chef/cook, if you put it on the menu don't bitch about customers ordering it!!

2:35 PM, March 30, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Food is ok, but atmosphere is stiff and uncomfortable.

7:04 PM, April 26, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had occasion to lucnh there reently and opted for the slighlty unusual stilton and fried eggs. To my surpise, it was one of the best things I had done that day It tasted fab, I have since gone back and had the same.
Tip to other restaurants, it works.
The rest of the meal was also good and the staff although a little distant, very efficient.

12:59 PM, May 08, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to the brill for the first time about one month ago... and no its not fine dining but very good value - I think it odd the chap Salmon sounds like he's got a lot to say for restaurant that has uplifted value for money eating expereince in the area... It's banged out every day lunch and dinner - must have eaten there 6-8 times - never had a problem there myself - sounds more like a competitor of theirs with 'sour grapes'

3:19 PM, May 08, 2009  
Anonymous Malcolm Eggs said...

This is interesting. Two positive comments about The Brill arrive within three hours, one of which accuses the reviewer of having a hidden agenda. I can assure you Ms de Beauvoir is no competitor, Anonymous.

3:28 PM, May 08, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"As the nervously smiling eastern European waitress shows me to a table (quelle elegance!)"

Is her country of origin significant to this review or was it included to make you feel better about yourself?

3:22 PM, October 15, 2009  
Anonymous Oliver Rowe said...

I've had limp sandwiches from there and don't like the decor.

I am a competitor so take it as you will. Can't work out what to make of it, but it seems to be doing all right so all power to them.

As for Gripey Anonymous, don't diss the review because you can't think of anything to say yourself. We've been doing more than the Brill can imagine for value for money dining in the area for a lot longer than they. I had a cafe nearby that opened in 04 serving restaurant quality food at cafe prices and now have a restaurant down the road where we serve a very reasonable lunch that has been on the site for nearly 4 years. We've got uncompromising sourcing policies and a very high expectation of our product. if I overcooked a scrambled egg, firstly I would know and secondly i would throw it away and start again. Good value shouldn't mean low quality.

4:55 PM, November 25, 2009  
Anonymous James said...

I just had breakfast there and it was extremely disappointing. I can get a 4 quid greasy spoon breakfast with ok food and big portions all over King's Cross. If I'm paying 6 quid and want to be at least slightly impressed and I certainly don't want to:

- have to ask for butter for my toast
- get melted butter when it arrives
- get pisspoor filter coffee
- ask for brown sauce and it never arrives

It wasn't a very generous serving either.

Will try Camino's brunch next...

9:42 AM, February 27, 2010  

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