Sunday, 20 October 2013

Chaplins - Dover's only cafe for the early bird's breakfast


Address: 2 Church St, Dover CT16 1LY
Phone: 013 0420 4870
Nearest Train station:
Dover Priory

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £10
Service charge: N/A
Taste: ***
Service: ***
Ambience: ***
With autumn properly descending on London, I can't help but reminisce about the trip at I made to Dover a mere two months back. While I did take a battering from the coastal winds, at least there was sunshine. Quite a bit of it actually.

I had but a weekend in the seaside town and like any tourist was anxious to check all the boxes in Dover. The miser in me simply refuse to pay the £10 surcharge for breakfast in the B&B I stayed in. The B&B manager did explain that they don't normally do breakfast so they had to bring someone in to flip an egg if I were to request for breakfast. Surely a tenner can be better spent elsewhere on a more sumptuous breakfast in the town?

For those in the know, while Dover isn't tiny by any means, the main town centre consists of only that few streets. After walking up and down Cannon and Biggin streets a couple of times, I was convinced that folks of Dover don't usually have breakfasts outside at 8am in the morning. Not on a Sunday at least. Tourists with a bit of common sense would have fork out a tenner to have someone flip that egg for them in the comforts of their B&B. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to find a breakfast place open at this unearthly hour even in central London.

I was about to give up all hope and pounce on the limp fries from an earlier fast food meal that had somehow mysteriously landed my bag's side pouch when I saw Chaplins. In the land of closed cafes, Chaplins with its glorious "Open" sign still slightly swinging on its front door was nirvana. My watch read 8.10am. Maybe they forgot to flip over their Open sign from the day before. Maybe the lone staff within was just sorting out the bits so that the cafe could open at 10am. Or maybe the lone man in the cafe nursing his coffee was just another staff arriving early. Fine, he was reading a Guardian but it could very well be that he was a bit too early for his shift.

I gave Chaplins' door a hesitant push fully expecting it to be still locked. I was in. The waitress flashed me a brilliant smile. She could be forgiven for being taken aback by an overwhelmingly enthusiastic "Hello!" from yours truely. Then again, she is probably used to having starving tourists trawling the town for a spot of breakfast in what must have been an unearthly hour.

Large breakfast on a small plate

Needless to say, I went for the works - a Large Breakfast (£5.95) with sausages, bacon, egg, baked beans, fresh tomatoes and toasted bread sounded exactly that. When it finally arrived, I had an instant flashback of the breakfast I had a Shepherdess Cafe. The matronly woman in Chaplins kitchen (who stepped out for a brief moment for a breather) managed to arrange an oversized breakfast on a tiny plate making it all the more, well, oversized. It was the antithesis of the typical French dish - small offering on a huge plate (for reasons that I still cannot fathom).

Chaplin's eyes boring down on you regardless of where you are seating

Need I say more?

An interesting read... and I'm not exactly a fan boy

As I slowly work my way through the breakfast, I began to flip through the stacks of literature dedicated to Charlie Chaplin. With the magazines, books and little ornaments and clay figurines of Chaplin, Chaplins can very well be a theme shop. Could that be why there is a premium on its tea then? At £1.35 per mug, it was disproportionately dear compared to its (again) large breakfast. At least, you get a PG tips tea bag, I suppose.

Enough about a breakfast cafe in Dover already, I hear you say. But if the place is the only one that is open for breakfast at 8am for seven days a week in Dover, I'm sure it is worth more than a mention. For those heading to Dover for a weekend trip, skip those dodgy hotel/B&B breakfasts and go have breakfast at Chaplins instead. The bobbing head Chaplin figure is worth the visit on its own.

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