The Breakfast Club

Sometimes only a cooked breakfast will do – but is there life beyond the full English?


Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it’s also a colossal pain in the arse – at least during the week.

Picture this crushingly familiar scene; your alarm explodes like a 50 megaton nuclear device, jolting you out of that beautiful dream about winning the lottery and not having to work ever again. After 12 snoozes, a little sob and a brief mental exploration of the feasibility of pulling a sickie (you can’t, you’ve got that meeting), it’s time to accept the inevitable. You’re going to have to get up.

Staggering downstairs with all the grace and presence of mind of an extra from The Walking Dead, you flick the kettle on and that’s when it hits you.

You absolutely cannot be arsed with breakfast.

It’s understandable. You’ve already got more than enough to deal with in the morning – having a shower, cleaning your teeth, coming to terms with Bill Turnbull’s retirement from BBC Breakfast – how on earth can you be expected to muster the energy for anything more elaborate than a bowl of cereal?

We’ll never forget you Bill. Especially that time you accidentally dropped the C-bomb on air.

But then comes the gleaming beacon of boundless hope and joy that is the weekend.

Suddenly, breakfast is elevated from the level of optional bodily function to The Actual Best Meal. You finally have the time and energy to throw off the shackles of The Kellogg Company and explore the very best breakfasts the planet has to offer, from North African shakshuka to Mexican huevos rancheros. The world is your proverbial oyster.

So naturally you go for a full English.

Now, don’t get me wrong. A truly great full English can be spectacular – for your consideration, here’s Parc Deli‘s, which I rate as one of the best in Cardiff:

I cannot over-emphasise the importance of beans in a little pot. Well played Parc Deli. Well played.
I cannot overemphasise the importance of putting your beans in a little pot. Well played Parc Deli. 

It’s remarkably un-greasy,  the fried egg is masterfully cooked, the bacon is thick and salty and the phonebook-thick wedges of granary toast are made with bread from the incomparable Pettigrew’s Bakery over the road.

But here’s the thing; I’ve had a lot more bad cooked breakfasts than good in my time. There’s also the irritating quasi-mythical assertion that it’s a hangover cure (it’s not), and the fact that it’s almost certainly Nigel Farage’s breakfast of choice (there’s a reason people keep mixing up ‘breakfast’ and ‘brexit’).

I want to adore the full English as passionately as everyone else. I really do. But it’s like Harry Potter; I love a good literary phenomenon, but I just can’t get behind the idea of a series of books about the adventures of magic public school Jesus, no matter how hard I try.

I’m also suffering from bacon fatigue at the moment. We live in an age of bacon jam, baconnaise, candied bacon – even bacon sodding toothpaste for crying out loud.

Ok, that's it. Between this, brexit and Trump, I'm out.
Ok, that’s it. Between this, brexit and Trump, I’m out.

I love bacon, I really do, but the universal obsession with it is getting to be like those people who constantly proselytize about their favourite box-set. It’s really, really good. We get it. I promise other people already know about it. Like Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Game of Thrones, it will not be consigned to the footnotes of history due to your failure to tell everyone about it. Bacon was here before you. It’ll be here after you.

With that in mind, let’s try something different. Let’s give eggs benedict a bash.

Chapter's eggs benny with a Welsh accent.Chapter’s eggs benny with a Welsh accent.

Provided you can secure a table on a Saturday morning, what with all those people with Macbooks ‘working on their screenplays’ and the free-range feral children, Chapter offer an inventive Welsh twist on the New York breakfast staple.

Replacing the muffins with laver bread, it manages to combine Don Draper-esque Madison Avenue cool with the quintessential Welshness of Richard Burton/Uncle Bryn from Gavin and Stacey (delete as applicable). It’s almost certainly just as bad for you as the good old fashioned full English, but at least you’re getting one of your five a day with all that seaweed. Probably.

While we’re on the subject of green stuff for breakfast, let’s not forget the mighty avocado. Yes, it’s the hipster-est of all the hipster-y foods – it’s the fruit equivalent of a beard and a man-bun for god’s sake. It’s also actually sort of bad for you. But sweet Christmas, mashed avo on toast done properly is INCREDIBLE.

While you can make your own at home, you’ve got approximately a one in 50 chance of finding a properly ripe one. And in the interests of public service, I feel like I should warn against the dangers of trying to mash an avocado that is so much as a nanosecond underripe; it’s like wrestling a greased up ferret that’s been dunked in a bucket of swarfega.

Don’t risk it. Just go to The Early Bird Bakery in Woodville Road and get them to make it for you instead.

Their take on the breakfast du jour is the brilliantly named Hulk Smasssshhhh. It combines runny poached egg and garlicky smashed avocado on thick doorsteps of homemade granary toast, all topped with a dab of Cholula hot sauce. Plus, if you’re a bacon obsessive you can add a couple of rashers to it for an extra quid too (I did).

Early Bird Bakery's Hulk Smash is basically my perfect breakfast“HULK NO WANT RICE KRISPIES, HULK WANT AVO ON TOAST! Also could I get a decaf soy latte please? Thanks.”

So what’s it like? Well, there’s a folder inside my brain marked ‘perfect breakfast’ and this is what’s in it.

The wonderfully salty bacon (oven cooked to eliminate some of the grease) and hot-sweet chilli sauce balance the rich creaminess of the egg yolk and avocado perfectly, with the thick crusty bread adding some welcome heft to the proceedings – this is a brunch that’ll keep you going all day.

If you’re not awake after a plate of this and a cup of their home-roasted coffee, you must be clinically dead. And if that’s the case then you’ve got bigger fish to fry than where to eat brunch.

In a million years someone is going to find all our Instagrammed pictures of flat whites and wonder what the hell we were up to. They do look lush though don't they?
The humble flat white. The only thing more Instagrammed than Kim Kardashian’s bum.

Even better, most of the staff at The Early Bird are apprentices, so you’re actively helping to train new culinary talent by eating here, and they serve breakfast till three, avoiding any awkward Michael-Douglas-in-Falling-Down type scenarios. Tidy.

To summarise, the full English is a true classic, but now and then you’ve got to break with tradition, throw caution to the wind and gorge yourself on mashed, oddly savoury fruit. If that’s not a rule to live by I don’t know what is.

There’s only one way to end a blog called The Breakfast Club. Take it away Jim:

Are you a full English fanatic (which frankly sounds a bit UKIP) or an avo apologist? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter at @fuudblog… 

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