The greasy spoon breakfast

Now, we Britons know that the cooked “Full English” breakfast is one of our few internationally recognised food experiences. Maybe not quite as well known as roast beef & Yorkshires but well up there. We also know that most times you eat one, it’s absolute shite. Poor quality ingredients, badly cooked. And the lower down the scale you go, the worse it gets – the greasy spoon café or the breakfast buffet at a Travelodge are likely to be not just bad but appallingly bad. There are exceptions, of course. The bakers in the village where I live used to do a pretty good one – the toast was from their own bloomers – but they retired. Maria’s at London’s Borough Market is a rare good example of the greasy spoon. And the one at Linthwaite House in Bowness is a thing of joy for a hotel brekkie – although I’ve not been for a while so it may have become crap since it changed owners. But these really are rare exceptions. So, most times you eat the full breakfast, it’s going to be only OK at best. Which brings me to this morning.

I rarely shop at Morrisons. It doesn’t really have high welfare meat or organic veg – marking it out as a place “near” the leafy middle class suburbs, not “in” the leafy suburbs. But, I used to take the father in law every week or so. The mother in law rarely came- the old boy saying that it would take forever if she did. I can vouch for that. I remember her coming one time and spending literally minutes examining all the jars of coffee. And she doesn’t even like coffee and didn’t buy any. Lee was like many Brits when it comes to food – he didn’t care about the quality so long as it was cheap. And cheap it is. Anyway, Lee would go off with his trolley. I’d buy a newspaper and sit in the café having a coffee and, occasionally, a bacon butty or something – keeping an eye open for him finishing the shop so I could get to the till and helping with the unloading and packing.

So, this morning we had to be at a shop almost next door to Morrisons and we decided we might as well do the weekly food shop here (as we didn’t need any meat and little by way of fruit and veg, so wouldn’t be compromising our middle class foody sensitivities). Needed a coffee first. And I was peckish so ordered the “big breakfast” – a plate bigger than the “small breakfast” but not as big as the “big daddy breakfast”. And, you know, it wasn’t too bad at all.

I’m usually nervous in a new place about sausages. Everything else on a “full English” plate can be mediocre quality and it will still be OK but put the cheapest of the cheap catering sausages on there and it will knacker any enjoyment. On that point, steer well clear of the smallish OK Diner chain which may hold my “first prize” for mankiest café sausage (although a café in the next village will give it a run for its money). They are truly vile.

But these were none too shabby. Two of them. And two rashers of bacon, two hash browns, a poached egg (you can also get fried or scrambled – and it’s a plus point to be offered a choice in a café), baked beans, grilled tomato, mushrooms and fried bread. Yes, it was big. And all for £4.80. Which makes it value for money.


Your M-I-L reminded me of an old story. A woman approached her poultry monger and asked to see a roasting chicken. He shows her one. She asks to see the other side. Top;. Bottom. Inside. She rejects it and asks to see another, And another, And another,. After she exhausts his stock and his patience, he asks her, “Lady, could you pass this test?”

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