Julia's Meadow, Fitzrovia, W1

So hello again. As I've mentioned before, I don't do these too often, and once again, I've just gone for the standard set breakfast off a cafe's menu, so it's not veggie by any stretch. This was actually eaten at lunchtime, but I was a bit hungover and really felt like the FE experience, so here we go. One of the few eating places in Fitzrovia I haven't yet been to for breakfast.

Julia's Meadow, Fitzrovia, London

So what we have here is your standard Full English, albeit with a (single) hash brown. Of course, I could use more carb than that (especially what with being hungover) but I can't complain about the amount of bacon -- lots of it and perfectly decent. The beans I had been worried about because of the slightly dark colour (maybe doesn't come out great in this slightly weird-coloured photo; I blame artificial lights), but they were fine. As were the mushrooms, provided as a bit of an afterthought at the edge of the plate. The toast was good, soft white with butter and good for mopping up.

All in all, this was a decent breakfast, and I can recommend this easy-to-miss cafe (which is to say, I never paid it much attention in the 10 years I've worked in the area), which is just off Goodge/Mortimer St, near the top.

Address: Julia's Meadow, 44 Newman Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1QD.

Archway Town Cafe, Archway, N19

Welcome back. It's been a little while, and this in any case is a breakfast I had last month, but let's keep things ticking over. I was going on a long walk that day and wanted to load up on energy, which is my excuse, but I don't want to squander this further step on my road to cardiac arrest without writing it up, so...

Archway Town Cafe, Archway, London

It's the classic combination really, eggs chips and beans with bacon and sausage. I tend to avoid ordering breakfast sets with chips because they don't really feel to me like breakfast food, but as ever sometimes I don't notice them in my eagerness to avoid selecting the option which omits something else I really like. So here we go. The chips in any case were crispy and fine, and not toooo greasy.

Key here is the fact that everything tastes as it should and goes down easily. The sausage was nice if undemanding flavourwise, the bacon was crispy, the beans were Heinz, and the fried egg was a bit runny in the centre. There was some soft toast to mop everything up, and a cup of coffee (or tea if that's your preference).

What's great about this cafe is that there's a piece of paper pasted up in the window that proclaims it "the best cafe in Archway" translated into a wonderful array of world languages. There are indeed many such greasy spoons in Archway for some reason, so clearly their advertising worked for me, though I can't yet assess its truthfulness. In any case, they serve up an excellently straightforward FE.

Address: Archway Town Cafe, 69 Junction Road, Archway, London, N19 5QU.

Loaf, Fitzrovia, W1

So it's been a few months for us, friends, but I recently ventured to another fairly recent cafe in Fitzrovia for a full breakfast meal. It's probably been open a year or so, but I don't walk down TCR quite so much so hadn't noticed it until a few months ago, when I stopped by for a coffee and a bacon sandwich (hangover, I think). The cappuccino was most creditable, so certainly recommended as far as coffee goes.

Loaf, Fitzrovia, London

Here's the full English though. Our summery London sun has been shining bright and warm recently, so forgive the glare in the photo. Anyway, no doubt those of a pedantic mind are already sharpening their pencils at the thought of scrambled eggs, which are probably not strictly-speaking canon, but I like them when they're done well, and they were done well here.

The pile of mushrooms were a little less successful, making the meat rather more a focus of the plate. Luckily there was plenty of bacon and a good, fat tasty sausage. Sliced grilled tomatoes, a slick of beans and pliable brown toast (they offered an option) round off this decent meal. Oh and I had a coffee with it, and the coffee was good too.

Address: Loaf, 93 Tottenham Court Road, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 4HL.

Frank's Coffee House, Fitzrovia, W1

So let me preface this breakfast with a story. It was my first day going to work at a job based a few metres away from this very cafe, a few weeks after I'd arrived to live in London. Before heading in for my first day, I felt like I could use a coffee, and having only recently relocated from New Zealand I did not realise that, in 2003, a coffee in London was a pale, weak, milky thing. Seeing the name of this establishment, I ventured in for a cappuccino, and it remains in my memory as the worst coffee I've ever had (competing with one from a platform-level outlet on Nunhead station years later, though undoubtedly there are far worse ones in the world). I barely got past the first sip and I vowed never to darken Frank's doors again after the lie perpetrated by their name.

Which brings me to this breakfast, as I had to return if I was to finish my reviews of Fitzrovian breakfasting spots. I chose instead, rarely, tea as an accompaniment, and though I recognise that, even in 2013, tea in Britain is a pale, weak, milky thing (which is far more right for tea than it is for coffee), yet I persist in having mine black (still weak, though). It was very good; I have no problems with it.

Frank's Coffee House, Fitzrovia, London

In fact, there are many many things to like about Frank's, not least in its unreconstructed caff-ness. It is old school in all the best ways: it looks the part, it has some fantastic unpretentious signage that has clearly not changed in 30 years, and it feels right. There's brusque yet friendly service from behind the counter, and even if their cooked menu sticks to the 'stuff on toast' formula, it's good stuff, and the toast is right for the plate (it's white and it's buttered, and a bit limp). So I get this, which is egg, bacon and sausage on toast. All the ingredients were decent quality, and if the egg wasn't exactly runny (the yolk had mostly hardened), at least there wasn't anything horribly distracting on the plate. I finished it off quickly, I enjoyed it, and my feelings about Frank's have greatly improved since that first, offputting coffee.

Address: Frank's Coffee House, 50-52 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 7QH.

Honey & Co., Fitzrovia, W1

Continuing my tour of Fitzrovia, I present something a little bit different for breakfast, and not just because for a change it's vegetarian. No, Honey & Co. is a cafe serving Middle Eastern food, rather than your standard fry-ups, which presumably makes it healthier. Their breakfast menu is fairly short, and offers only lahma (bready things with stuff on top) and frittata as warm food.

Honey and Co., Fitzrovia, London

So this is the herb and feta frittata (or "ijje" as they call it on the menu, which is presumably an alternate spelling for this). I actually asked for the lahma, but no worries, this was pretty nice as well. It comes with a plain yoghurt, as well as a little bowl of nice olives and fresh tomatoes chopped into quarters. There's very little I can add really: a frittata is a straightforward food, an eggy omelette-type thing, and this was a good example of it. Incidentally, I also ordered a fresh orange juice, and it was lovely. So there's that, and yes, worth a visit.

Address: Honey & Co., 25a Warren Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 5LZ.

Attendant, Fitzrovia, W1

I can't pretend that I get in at the ground floor -- or indeed the loos, in this case -- of many London cafe or restaurant openings; mostly they just blythely pass me by, and I care little. (Okay, I care a bit, but I cannot afford to care too deeply in the more glamorous end of the spectrum, such as Balthazar in Covent Garden, which serves breakfast and looks intriguing, but alas I do not have an expense account.)

However, I heard about Attendant, a new cafe and coffee shop in a converted Victorian public convenience, from a friend a couple of days ago, for indeed it opened a couple of days ago. It's located a block away from my office and it opens for breakfast, which makes it doubly of interest to me and my ongoing Fitzrovian breakfast project. I don't usually post photos of anything aside from the food I ate, but the job they've done in repurposing this bog is pretty cool:

Attendant, Fitzrovia, W1

It now resounds with the sounds of a coffee machine, and (thankfully) the smells of freshly made food, which at this stage mostly extends to cakes and biscuits it looks like, though the owner was hanging about and keen to let me know that they're adding new stuff every day. As far as I could tell, the breakfast-themed offering when I was there was a basket of sandwiches, a variation on the BLT, in this case adding avocado and a fried egg.

Attendant, Fitzrovia, London

So yes, there you go. It had been freshly made, but they heated it up a little bit more before serving it to me in its own little basket. Good quality sourdough bread, and fresh ingredients, it was all very tasty and went down almost too easily (given it skewed towards the pricier end of the sandwich scale, being £6). I should also make note of the cappuccino I ordered, which was excellent (but was an added cost on top of the sandwich).

So yes, this is clearly a different league of breakfast joint from the greasy spoons I usually essay on this blog, definitely more akin to Kaffeine (another local barista-focused cafe, which shamefully I haven't yet featured here) or Tapped and Packed (which I have reviewed). But it has enough going for it that it should do well, so if it's the kind of thing you're looking for, I can recommend it.

Address: Attendant, downstairs, 27a Foley Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 6DY.

Little Portland Cafe, Fitzrovia, W1

So yes, back to those breakfasts. I'm getting to the last few Fitzrovian hangouts, and this is definitely ranking up there with the better ones. First off, you've got the cafe itself, unprepossessing and tucked away in a little side street off Regent Street. It's a little bigger than most, with seating for about 30 or so, I'd imagine. It also has several bustling and busy wait staff greeting customers, showing them to tables, getting menus, delivering food, all rushing about hither and yon, also quite surprising in this type of place. Rare is the greasy spoon I've been to that's even had one waitress, let alone an army of them as this place does.

Little Portland Cafe, Fitzrovia, London

The food and drinks come quickly then, as you'd expect, but the good thing is that the quality is right up there with the best of greasy spoon fare. Toast is buttered and white as per your standard full English. Baked beans are a tightly contained slick at the edge of the plate, crowded out by other ingredients. As this is the "big breakfast" (£5.50 including tea/coffee) there are two eggs and two rashers of bacon. Fried eggs are cooked perfectly to form, like a Platonic ideal of fried eggs. A crispy hash brown and those mushrooms are also a 'big' breakfast extra, and I for one am glad for them. The mushrooms are top quality, cooked just right, just how they should be. And the sausage is excellent and tasty, so I leave it for last.

In short, I can heartily recommend this place for your dietarily-unwise breakfast food needs. They do have a vegetarian breakfast listed for around £3.50 (not include gratis tea/coffee, I don't think), but today I was feeling like a sausage.

Address: Little Portland Cafe, 15 Little Portland Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 8BW.

Masters Sandwich Bar, Fitzrovia, W1

So, new year (happy one, etc) new breakfasts. Or, well, a return to Fitzrovia, because I still have a few places to get to before I'm done with it. For my first breakfast (and post) of this year, you get one that I've not exactly been inspired to write excessively about, but hey it was okay.

Masters Sandwich Bar, Fitzrovia, London

First of all, there wasn't a great choice on the breakfast menu, mostly of the takeaway variety, but they had one cooked breakfast listed so I went for that. It's not really "full" English, because there's no potato product (or tomato, though I will always forgive a tomato for not being there), but it was pretty decent. The baked beans were a bit disappointing (perhaps I am too addicted to Heinz), but the bread for mopping them up was excellent, and the bacon and sausage were perfectly fine. Egg had a runny centre that the toast helped with and all in all I was pleased. Came to £5 including a tea or coffee.

Address: Masters Sandwich Bar, 53 Great Portland Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 7LG.

Nonno Lino Italiano, Fitzrovia, W1

So let's get back to it then.

Nonno Lino Italiano, Fitzrovia, London

Here we have a classic line-up for your full English greasy spoon breakfast, presented in classic caff format to a good range of people (if the clientele include builders I always think that's a sign of a place offering a good breakfast at good value).

You can make the FE with the highest possible quality ingredients and then charge £10+ for it, but that seems to be missing the point of a really good FE. It's to take basic simple cheap ingredients and make them tasty. Sure, I could complain that the eggs could have had a richer coloured yolk, or gosh, I don't know, that they could have made their own hash browns, but I'd probably have been a little disappointed if they had because I've come to rely on that familiar taste of the HBs coming from a packet or a big catering-size bag or however they're packaged.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that this, for your £5 including coffee or tea, was a good breakfast. All the elements of the non-veggie FE were there (potato tick, fried eggs tick, Heinz baked beans tick, mushrooms tick, decent meat tick), lacking only perhaps a grilled tomato, and they were all well executed. The mushrooms were perfectly fine (too often they are poorly cooked or entirely tasteless), the baked beans were correct (not some off-brand nonsense), the eggs could perhaps have been a little more cooked (but I'm splitting hairs here), and the meat was good, especially that sausage. Really nice sausage. Oh and the bread was thick yet pliable, and if I could have used a bit more that's just because I scoffed it so quickly.

So yes, top breakfast. I can recommend this place.

Address: Nonno Lino Italiano, 45 Goodge Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1TB.

Babble Jar Bar and Diner, 176 Stoke Newington High Street, N16

Babble Jar bar and diner used to be a fish restaurant, which suffered from being on the high street and therefore ignored by the fine diners of Stoke Newington Church Street. Now it's a bar-diner with a short food menu of breakfast, sandwiches, salads and an extensive cocktail list, presumably hoping to capture the yummy parents of N16 by day and the hipsters of Dalston by night.

(Photo from their website)

My partner had the veggie breakfast, comprising portobello mushroom filled with baked beans, three (3!) hash browns, poached eggs, half a grilled tomato, veggie sausage, roasted pepper, and toast for £6.95.

He observed that the eggs were both a little too hard (yoke) and a bit too soft (white) and whilst the roast pepper was an interesting addition, it was a little too sweet for (a savoury) breakfast. He liked the mushrooms, beans, hash brown and sausage.

I had the babble breakfast (£7.50), which was an odd mixture - poached eggs on toast with mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, rocket, avocado and soft cheese:- it was a strange but not unpleasant combination. The main problem was that the bar seemed to have a literal open door policy, creating not only a cold draught but also letting in the noise and pollution of the A10. So my meal went cold pretty quickly and there's nothing more depressing than a cold poached egg.

Staff were very friendly, the sofas were squashy, the coffee (an additional £2.20) was pretty good, but they need to, as Larry Grayson used to exclaim, shut that door.