Friday, 31 July 2009

Shepherdess Cafe review - a hearty English breakfast in the heart of London

everything for sale is on the wall, just point

Nothing beats starting the day with a hearty English breakfast. Definitely not from the local diner that seemed to have popped up overnight just round the corner and offers kebab burger and loads of chips. Not even the S&M on the high streets with their friendly staff whose smiles only serve to distract you from the fact that you are being served rock hard sausages.

I am talking about a full English breakfast with sausages that your fork can actually pierce into, eggs still runny, beans that doesn't look like it's straight out from a can and bacon that is neither soaked in brine nor require you to lose a tooth.

I walked into Shepherdess Cafe on a bright cheery Sunday morning full of expectations. After what I had read online, I expected to see tables of celebrities nursing their hangovers and BBC journalists conducting interviews over cups of tea.

Instead I saw a couple of construction workers who looked like they would prefer to stay in bed, a bobby getting his daily caffeine fix before his shift, a couple who were more interested in staring in each others' eyes than tucking into their bacon, another couple who were furiously attacking their eggs and totally oblivious to each other. A guy in what I assumed to be the clothes he slept in occupied a corner seat and was reading a Guardian - a Labour supporter, I noted as I settled down opposite him. I like to live my life dangerously.

The waitress came up promptly with a coffee stained menu. I took a cursory glance at it and it took me all of two seconds to decide on a full English breakfast with a tea to boot. 'Would you like to have some toast?' she asked sweetly. 'Definitely', I replied without hesitation, I mean, what is breakfast without toast? I sat back twiddling my thumbs, trying to read the headlines of the Guardian that the guy in front of me was poring over.

With the radio playing in the background, Shepherdess Cafe did have a certain charm in it. It belonged to an era where cafes not only sold hot food but also treats like sweets, crisps, chocolate bars and even more sweets. Every single item on sale was listed on a board hung prominently behind the counter.

The couple besotted with each other finally decided that they were hungry and started poking at their food but not without holding on to each other hands. I had no idea how one could manoeuvre mushrooms and bacon with a single fork. Love is amazing isn't it for it enables you to do amazing tricks.

When my full English breakfast finally came, I sat there staring at it for some time. Thoughts ran through my mind and it went like, "Whoa, it's huge, I have no idea how I'm going to finish that. Do they do doggy bags?" Well, at £5.10, the English breakfast would have made Henry VIII a very proud man. I decided that if the guy reading the Guardian could clean up his plate, there was no reason why I couldn't.

breakfast fit for a king, in quantity that is

I must add that the English breakfast served at Shepherdess Cafe was among the better ones that I have tasted. In fact, it was exactly what a good hearty breakfast should be, soft sausages, runny eggs, not too salty bacon and beans with the right consistency. It wasn't exactly a healthy way to start a morning but it went down just fine with my cup of tea and the radio playing in the background.

Didn't see anyone famous on that day. Darn.

Address: 221 City Road, London EC1V 1JN
Tel: 020 7253 2463
Nearest Tube station: Old Street

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £10 pp
Service charge: N/A
Taste: ***
Service: **
Ambience: *
Suitable for: a slow and lazy Sunday brunch while reading the newspapers

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