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Monday, 1 July 2013

The Breakfast Club - Finally Stepping out of the 80's

It seems to have taken a lifetime. My entire lifetime in fact, to experience a breakfast or brunch menu that is truly unique, something to plan for, something to look forward to, again & again. 

I have always enjoyed brunch, for I do not have a huge early morning appetite. But the options available to me have always been so limited, replicated in varying degrees of quality all over the country, dependent on the venue. 

There is of course, THE FRY UP. As a young(er) man this was all I could ever have wanted, but as I grew older I craved something more exciting, and I became disillusioned with even the more 'posh', 'Bills-Style' Full English, for it was no better really than the greasy spoon alternative around the corner. 

Then, in my late teens, I discovered Eggs Benedict, which in tern lead to a discovery of Eggs Royale. This became what I looked for in a breakfast/brunch menu, and satisfied me greatly for some time. But occasionally the Hollandaise would be a bit lacking in acidity, essential in this dish, or worse still, was blatantly out of a packet. As it cropped up in more and more all day eateries, my chances of being lumbered with an over-poached egg increased. 

American breakfast variations became commonplace. Pancakes, with blueberries, maple, bacon, banana, etc, another wonderful option. Much smaller in portion than the monstrosities our transatlantic counterparts produce, this was more often than not just the right size, and just like eggs Benedict, the right blend of flavours & textures. Perfect for the time of day. 

Never truly saw the point of buying 'fancy' porridge out and about, but then I'm generally not a fan of porridge. That and other 'posh mueslis' with compotes & honeyed yoghurts have also been cropping up left right and centre since the turn of the millennium (and probably before). 

I suppose, not being a chef - by any stretch of the imagination - and it is precisely that, imagination, that has been missing for breakfast menus (that I have seen) for a long, long time. 



They haven't just come up with a couple of 'unusual' ingredients to tried and tested classics, they have truly put together a flawless menu of wonders that, for the first time in ages, I had a really hard time deliberating over. 

My good friend, and local resident, Martin, was the man who had recommended it to me and insisted we go. He had been the day before and still could to wait to go again. He even ordered the same thing he had the day before, it was that good. Just, just look! Look at this Brunch menu...

Coconut bread, lemon curd cream cheese, rhubarb 7.5 

Raclette and spinach French toast, bacon, watercress 9-

Smoked haddock and leek rarebit, poached eggs, rocket 8.5 

Parmesan grits, girolles, boar sausage 9- 

Corn & morcilla fritters, avocado, paprika crème fraiche 9- 

Salt beef bubble, poached eggs, spinach, hollandaise 9-

Jalapeno corn bread, fried eggs, black beans, guindilla pepper 8.5 

Baked eggs, tomato pepper ragout, Greek yoghurt, toast 7.5

- with chorizo sausage 9.5 

Poached eggs, aubergine puree, yoghurt, sumac, parsley, toast 8.5

- with soutsouki sausage 9- 

Caravan Fry: Eggs, field mushrooms, tomato compote, bacon 9-

- with sourdough or grain toast 

Imaginative, exciting, and unusual in the best sense of the word, certainly for a 'Bill's-esque' restaurant. And Bills is precisely the reference point, for it was there that I first started to appreciate a good brunch. 

The Salt-beef, while being trendy, was divine. A crispy-fried ball of Shredded meat & bubble & squeak, waiting to be mashed amorously together with perfect poached egg, HOMEMADE Hollandaise, and lightly wilted spinach. It was The Dark Knight to eggs Benedicts' Batman Begins - a sequel unlikely to ever be bettered. 

The place was booming, packed to the industrial rafters. The breakfast Martini could (should) have been better, but the coffee was perfect. The service wasn't ideal - art students who did things painfully slowly, and without much of a smile - but it mattered not one bit, the menu meant I would leave desperate to return. 

Sadly, Bills has since become a monstrous, nationwide machine, and any creativity they once oozed is long gone. 

Here in Brighton, I await the heir to their throne, and keep my fingers crossed that one day soon, something as inventive as Caravan comes to town.