“We despise hollandaise, home fries, those pathetic fruit garnishes, and all the other cliché accompaniments designed to induce a credulous public into paying $12.95 for two eggs. Nothing demoralises an aspiring Escoffier faster than requiring him to cook egg-white omelettes or eggs over easy with bacon.”
The words of Anthony Bourdain, ladies and gentlemen, while he was an exec chef at Brasserie Les Halles. If breakfast is among the most mundane tasks in a chef’s working life – but profitable all the same – how does one help the kitchen stay sane, and guests enthused? In keeping with Bourdain, turns out much of the UK – not just its chefs – is crying out for more than dressed up baked eggs.
One of London’s most coveted breakfasts, if the Saturday morning queues are anything to go by, is a serving of bacon, cream cheese, coriander, and chilli jam and naan bread made in-house. How exactly has this Dishoom dish become among its most famous? For a start, it’s simple. It’s – for an Indian restaurant often deemed ‘authentic’ – inauthentic. It appeals to the British palate (as almost anything with bacon and bread would). And it’s understandable. After all, no one’s looking for anything too demanding while bleary-eyed.
Then again, there’s evidence to suggest anyone will eat anything at 8:30 in the morning. Like a bowl of miso soup, udon noodles, and grilled fish from Koya. Or Duck & Waffle’s signature confit duck leg with a waffle, fried egg, and maple syrup. Fast forward a bit to 10pm and Smoking Goat will dish you up roti with curry sauce and lardo fried rice.
Clearly, there’s room for a lot more in the market than a fry-up. If that’s still your bag however, be someone like Hawksmoor or Blacklock, who get in some of the best bacon and sausage and black pudding on the planet. Or, speaking of other traditional breakfasts, be like Dusty Knuckle, where the sourdough part of their bacon sarnie – made in house – has a reputation for being the best around.
Many know how to cook up a classic British breakfast. But how do you accommodate the growing number of those of a plant-based persuasion? Or capture the imagination of a generation that likes to flitter from one restaurant t’other? Perhaps Daisy Green have the answer, with their coconut French toast and aubergine fritters and celeriac toast. Meanwhile, over at her Yardarm residency, Henrietta Inman is winning a lot of fans in Leyton with her heritage grain-based granolas and porridges, topped off with extras like Suffolk honey, poached quince, and toasted almond butter.
As sure as eggs is eggs, it’s hard to imagine traditional breakfasts will ever die. But when everyone’s doing the same thing, what does it matter if someone picks the local greasy spoon over the restaurant further into town? By the looks of things, there’s no real limit to what guests will point to on a menu. Just as long as, for some, it doesn’t involve a pair of eggs.