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22nd Oct, 2012



Wahaca, Fitzrovia, W1

London isn't Mexico, and anyone with an interest in Mexican food who has tried to take London up on that country's cuisine has reliably been disappointed over the years. Still, it hasn't stopped people from trying, and there's now a fairly reliable range of burrito and taco bars around this town which are decent (in a Mexico via West Coast USA but with added local idiosyncrasies sort of way). Wahaca was one of the early restaurants to try to do things a bit better than the ole ole big hats and bad margaritas of the previous naff theme Mexicans (which sadly still exist: avoid anywhere with a comedy name or 'wacky' colours).

So anyway, that Wahaca has expanded somewhat, and now has a branch in Fitzrovia where they open for breakfast (with this here breakfast menu). I thought I'd try it out. After all, I've rather forced myself with this Fitzrovia project.

Wahaca, Fitzrovia, London

I went for the first thing on the list, the huevos rancheros (£6 without extras like avocado or bacon/chorizo), making this vegetarian! I am given to understand that cheese and sour cream are non canon for this kind of thing, but the corn tortillas are the base, with the eggs and salsa and frijoles (beans) piled on top. There's an option for either roasted tomato red salsa or green tomatillo salsa, and as apparently the latter is very spicy, I went for red. It was still pretty spicy, but I thought the dish had a good balance, and was pretty good all told. Nice too, to have a place with a good range of options for breakfast.

Address: Wahaca, 19-23 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1RL.

8th Oct, 2012



Caffe Macchiato, Fitzrovia, W1

It's my birthday today, so I thought some good old-fashioned unhealthy fry-up action was in order to see me through to drinks tonight.

There are, it turns out, two Caffe Macchiatos in Fitzrovia. I have no idea if they're related. They look different from outside, so I assume not. However, the other one is on Cleveland Street, and I've been there already.

Caffe Macchiato, Fitzrovia, London

They do, however, share the habit of cutting open the sausage for maximum display effect. Aside from that -- and the decidedly non-canon move of omitting any potato product -- this breakfast was alright in all the most unhealthy ways. The sausage was decent, the bacon crisped up, and the egg had a firmness of white combined with runniness of yolk that almost confused me, though it was nice. Tomatoes were a bit pointless (but you know how I feel about those anyway), not grilled enough and sliced rather than halved; at least they were fresh tomatoes. Toast was sufficiently soft to mop up the sea of baked bean juices, so I give this breakfast a tick.

Address: Caffe Macchiato, 15 Eastcastle Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 3AY.
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26th Sep, 2012



Matteo's Sandwich Bar, Fitzrovia, W1

Back safely ensconced in Fitzrovia fry-up territory, I pop into Matteo's, being one I hadn't yet made it into in the short walk from Goodge Street station to my work.

It is, first of all, a proper old-school Italian-run caff, with the kind of unretouched and unrefurbished look and decor that befits this kind of joint. Maybe this kind of unselfaware style has got hipster cred, or maybe it flies under most people's radar, I don't even know how to judge it in fashion terms; it's just right, though, for a greasy spoon.

They have a list of set breakfast options, with varying ingredients (the vegetarian one is the same kind of aubergine and cheese affair I had a few doors down the road at Perugino Coffee House). I spy one with hash browns and stupidly fail to note that it does not list baked beans, assuming that all breakfasts of this type would have them.

Matteo's Sandwich Bar, Fitzrovia, London

But for all that, for all that surprise and slight disappointment that it lacked baked beans, it was still all basically very decent. A fiver for this, toast and a coffee or tea seems almost expensive compared to some caffs of this type, but it's a good investment. The bacon is fine, and the hash browns are properly crisped-up without beeing overly oily. The egg may be broken in a rather unattractive way, but it tastes fine and still has the runniness to be mopped up by the bread, without being too thin and watery a yolk. The highlight, though, is the sausage, which is excellent quality. I stand by that sausage. It was a good sausage.

Address: Matteo's Sandwich Bar, 32 Tottenham Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 4RL.
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21st Sep, 2012



Draft House, Fitzrovia, W1

Thanks to the sterling work of occasional contributor millionreasons I haven't always been the most persistent about bringing vegetarian breakfasts to your attention. However, I do like to try new places and if they have stuff on the menu that's not yr standard full English (which I'll admit, I do rather enjoy as it often means I don't have to eat again that day until dinner), I like to give it a go.

So there I was in The Draft House's newest branch (which they call "Draft House Charlotte", but which I will call by the name that's written on the place), which conveniently happens to be very near my work and therefore in my area of special interest, Fitzrovia. I was standing at the bar looking at the menu, and trying to work out how much exactly it would cost to add all the extras I wanted to your bog standard baked beans on toast option in order to get something more like an FE (which for reference, is £4.75 for the basic, £1.50 extra for bacon, £1 for fried egg, £1 per sausage and £1.50 for black pudding... so £8.25 without black pudding, which is a bit pricy I guess but could be worse). Anyway, I was trying to do the maths when I spotted at the bottom something called "Java rice, flat fried egg, with smokin' hot chilli sambal and keçap manis", so I went for that. Because, hey, why not?

Draft House, Fitzrovia, London

So there you go: that's what it is. If you know that keçap is pronounced with a "ch" sound, you'd probably think (like I did) that it was the red stuff, but in fact that's the chilli sambal (and was indeed very spicy). No, keçap manis is basically a sweet soy sauce, so it's the one in the bowl on the left.

The rest of the meal was really quite nice. I don't usually have rice and egg for breakfast, but it was all good, nice flavour, and the egg was a bit runny so it all went together rather well. Consider this a recommendation!

One word of WARNING, though, beer fans. They aren't licensed to serve alcohol until 10am, so unless you visit in the last hour of their breakfast service, no breakfast beer for you. Not that I tried (I had a coffee, honest). I just asked. For your information.

Address: The Draft House, 43 Goodge Street, London, W1T 1TA.

19th Sep, 2012



Bald Faced Stag, East Finchley, N2

After 1pm is not a traditional time for a full English breakfast, or indeed any sort of breakfast, but there it was on their brunch menu when I popped by this pub, and well, I rather felt like a breakfast.

Bald Faced Stag, East Finchley, London

At around £10, it was a bit pricy, but I suppose you're paying for a gastropub lunch rather than a greasy spoon breakfast, and indeed the quality of the ingredients was pretty high. All the elements were good, including a tasty black pudding, and some excellent bacon. The eggs were offered in any style you wanted, and I went for poached. The merest hint of vinegar in the cooking, but the eggs were firm and yielded a good coloured runny yolk.

The only slight disappointment was the chunkiness of the toast, not adequate for mopping up breakfast juices, and that I had to ask for butter, but these were minor quibbles. A very tidy plate of food this, and not bad.

Address: The Bald Faced Stag, 69 High Road, East Finchley, London, N2 8AB.

16th Sep, 2012



The Russet, Amhurst Terrace, E8

The Russet is a new cafe in an old factory unit underneath the railway arches just off Hackney Downs. Its mission is "to serve local people with good food at reasonable prices". It is also an arts space and a pick up point for Growing Communities' organic box scheme. You sit at workbench tables and eat from charity shop crockery. Outside were Hackney hipsters, inside, yummy parents in the special children's area.

We had the two veggie options: eggs from the garden (i.e. eggs fiorentine with asparagus rather than spinach):

and the Veggie Pippin, i.e. veg fry-up:

They were both £6.50. Frothy coffee and an apple juice were an extra £2 a pop. The eggs and asparagus were excellent as was the buttery hollandaise. My only complaint was that they'd already salted the meal; I like to add my own salt, thank you. My partner was a little less impressed with his food; he prefers Heinz to Good Earth beans and the egg was over-fried. However, he liked the home produced bubble (made with chard rather than cabbage). The veggie sausage was from the Cauldron range.

All in all, I think the food met the Russet's aim. They do a no frills four quid lunch Monday to Friday and also a three course Sunday lunch with veggie options for around £15, so I think we might be back.

The Russet, Amhurst Terrace, E8 2BT

31st Aug, 2012



Dirty Burger, Kentish Town, NW5

Hello all! It's been a little while, due to a combination of me being out of the country for a while, and also trying to budget a bit better (hence breakfasts have been a bit cut down). However, never let it be said that londonbreakfast does not relentlessly chase the latest trends. Well, you probably could say that, but we seem to have stumbled into this one on the 'ground floor' as they say, given it just opened last week (after the requisite period as a street food van).

Yes, Dirty Burger is the latest of the many (many, many, MANY) new burger places around the capital, and it has a sort-of permanent location. I say "sort-of" because it's a corrugated iron shack out the back of its older (and far more glamorous) sister restaurant Pizza East. However, whatever the carefully-designed pseudo-pop-up qualities of the structure, it's fairly comfortable and puts out a good burger (albeit only one, a cheeseburger). However, in the mornings from 7am you can get breakfast, provided you like either bacon or sausage.

Dirty Burger, Kentish Town, London

Well, as regular readers will know, I am partial to bacon or sausage on occasion. So when I visited on my walk to work, I went for the bacon option. And as you can see, there's lots of bacon in their bacon and egg "Dirty Breakfast" option. In fact, it's mostly bacon, with the soft brioche burger bun added as almost an afterthought. Needless to say, this made the consumption of it quite messy and I don't know how I'd eat it while walking down the street with any decorum. Luckily there was a pile of napkins, a little sink to wash my hands, and only me in there (though watched by the kitchen staff).

Well, anyway, it was good, readers. Provided you like bacon. The bacon was good quality, quite salty, but tasty and well-cooked. The egg which you can barely see, was carefully cooked in perfect, circular, "Egg McMuffin" style shape, and was not runny -- for which I was thankful, given all the other attendent messiness. If you are a meat-eater and do happen to be in NW5 between 7-11am, and have access to washing facilities, I will recommend this as a classier version of what you can get in most greasy spoons in the morning.

Address: Dirty Burger, Highgate Studios, 53-79 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, London, NW5 1TL.

31st Jul, 2012



Workshop Coffee Co., Clerkenwell, EC1

Hello! I've been out of the country for a few weeks, in New Zealand. Maybe I will do a guest overseas breakfast post, but in the meantime, I've got back to London and been on the hunt for a breakfast, albeit one which reminds me of down under. We found our way to an Australian-run cafe and coffee shop, and lo! it is not in Fitzrovia for a change (from my usual breakfast posts).

Workshop Coffee Co., Clerkenwell, London

So, this is Workshop Coffee Co., which for a brief while was called St Ali. It's got the bare brick walls and has the vibe of a place where designers and architects congregate (well, that seems to be who occupies most of the offices around these parts). It's all very pleasant, if a tad dark inside, though there's a skylight down the back.

Service is friendly, and even at 8:30am on a Sunday, we were able to order a breakfast cocktail (a mimosa, or buck's fizz if you are so inclined: I'm fairly sure they're the same thing). I ended up going for the eggs (done any way you want for £4.50 including toast) with a couple of extras. Obviously if you add too much of these, the price gets pretty high, so with two (mushrooms and bacon), it got up to about £10.

But oh the quality, they were very good eggs. The photo makes them look rather more garish than perhaps they were, but they were expertly curdled and really really tasty. Then the bacon was also great, and the mushrooms were fantastic (and there were lots of them). It was all served with a chutney jam thing, which was very tasty, and basically I can totally recommend Workshop Coffee Co. for breakfast/brunch. Oh and the cappuccino was very good too.

Address: Workshop Coffee Co., 27 Clerkenwell Road, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 5RN.

21st Jun, 2012



Double J's, Fitzrovia, W1

I was watching the scrappy England-Ukraine football game on Tuesday evening, and idly stated that if they won I'd get myself a full English for breakfast the next morning. Well, they did, and intending to be true to my word I did verily venture in a little early for some cooked breakfast. However, I've decided that it wasn't an emphatic victory, so I've come to terms with my eventual choice of the vegetarian breakfast instead. Also, it's been a while for me and the veggie fry-up.

Double J's, Fitzrovia, London

Now, it's always nice to see a plate crammed full to the brim with tasty breakfast ingredients. However, I would argue this is not ideal. One of the first things I want to do is transfer some toast across so I can start piling on some beans or some egg, soaking up the juices, that sort of thing. When the plate is only large enough to hold the breakfast, it means you have to eat some of it first, and that's not my breakfast ideal.

That aside, what we have here is a perfectly competent cooked breakfast. The hash brown is well fried with lots of oil, a bit greasy but very crisp. That veggie sausage is of the filled-with-vegetables (rather than soy meat-substitute) variety, which is good. And the egg is lovely, deep orange yolk, perfectly runny. Requisite sea of beans at the edge is held back ably by the other ingredients rather than running too wild.

Mushrooms however are a slight disappointment. They're fine (and I've had so very much worse in my times) and not too greasy, but overcompensating in the other direction by being a bit dry. The toast is very bog-standard stuff, but it does its job of mopping up.

On the whole this was a good breakfast at a solid Italian-run caff, and it came with a good cup of nicely-brewed coffee as well. They just need bigger plates.

Address: Double J's, 65 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 4PQ.

PS I've noticed that the history of my breakfast reviews is also the history of what books I happen to be reading at the time, which are often perched at the edge of shot. As this one is a bit out of focus, I should mention that it's a history of the Regent's Park written a few decades back. Fairly interesting to me, but perhaps of niche London interest only.

14th Jun, 2012



Mortimer's Cafe, Fitzrovia, W1

I've been trying to budget a bit recently, and cutting out cooked breakfasts seemed sensible for a variety of reasons, but had this one as a treat to myself -- and now to you! (unless yr vegetarian; there weren't many nice looking veggie options on the menu).

Mortimer's Cafe, Fitzrovia, London

First of all, presentation: this is a bit sloppy. Of course, a bit sloppy needn't be a bad thing, and if the ingredients are all good quality, then a bit of leakage from the baked beans isn't going to ruin the experience.

Fortunately, most of this breakfast was fine. If I could quibble, I'd say the sausage was a bit disappointing, not as meaty as it could have been. The eggs were also broken (and not as runny as is ideal), but they were good quality and had a nice orangey hue. Toast (not pictured) was also excellent, and the coffee that came with this good value breakfast, although it showed up quite late, was fine.

Address: Mortimer's Cafe, 26 Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 7RB.
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