Food & drink

  1. Breakfast at No. 1 Duke Street

    No. 1 Duke Street is the Richmondiest place you can go for breakfast in the whole of Richmond, because while the food is excellent there’s also a tense, uptight feel to the place that no amount of complimentary cucumber water, wicker chairs and deep, soft sofas can mask. Like Richmond in general, No. 1 Duke Street is a place for people who think they’re pretty cool and liberal and trendy but would lose their shit if the coffee machine at Waitrose was out of order.

  2. Breakfast at Granger & Co. Ottolenghi Daylesford

    Generally, I try not to get into queues with people who don't mind they're in a queue. A queue is an obstacle between you and your destination, and if you don't mind queuing, you clearly don't care that much about the destination, in which case why don't you just fuck off and queue somewhere else where you're not in everybody's way? Form a circle outside somewhere and get everyone to step forward once a minute if this is what you're about.

  3. Breakfast at The Putney Canteen

    A recent move to the south-west of London opened up a rich seam of easily-accessible breakfast venues in quasi-mythical places that sound like Monty Python sketch punchlines, like Twickenham, Wimbledon and Clapham: irritating to reach when you have to trek from the north of London and through the fetid middle, but more appealing to visit when it's a only a five minute train ride.

  4. Breakfast at Berners Tavern

    If you're going to make me book a table in advance for breakfast, you ought to be offering something special. The views of the Shard, the unique menu of Duck & Waffle, or the reassuring bustle of The Wolseley. Berners Tavern seems to always require booking, but I'm not sure that it offers anything that justifies it.

  5. Breakfast at Damson & Co.

    Though no part of Soho can really be considered 'off the beaten path', stumbling upon Damson & Co. felt like a little reward for going down the vaguely-less-trafficked Brewer Street, a short walk away from the 100 other breakfast spots of Soho and with approximately 10% fewer people. It's a small place that's easy to overlook with a couple of tables and booths inside, and a bar for the losers who turn up too late and have to sit there like Depression-era dustbowl miners, all lined up on stools with their elbows touching.

  6. Breakfast at Kopapa

    I had every intention of writing about breakfast at the Tapa Room, a Marylebone restaurant with an unusual breakfast menu, but my plan’s been scuppered by the fact that I can never get in the place. Awkward to reach, doesn’t take bookings, and popular with the sort of people who can afford to live in Marylebone and don’t mind queueing for 45 minutes; every time I’ve tried to visit I’ve found what looks like a Banana Republic window display come to life, queuing out of the door for a cramped spot at one of those hateful shared galley tables.

  7. Breakfast at Koya Bar

    The English Breakfast at Koya Bar is a trap. This is a Japanese restaurant serving Japanese breakfasts, so it's mostly all rice and miso and pickles and fear of the unknown, but there's an English Breakfast option that lured me in. It's going to be ok, the menu said, there are eggs, bacon and mushrooms here. You're going to be fine.

  8. Breakfast at Ottolenghi’s

    I wrote about Yotam Ottolenghi's Nopi a while ago when I visited for lunch but I mostly went there for breakfast. A cool, calm, sophisticated place that usually had a table by virtue of being in a slightly crappy dead zone in between Regent Street and Soho. I'd never been to Ottolenghi's Islington restaurant apart from occasionally stopping by to buy a ruinously-expensive salad, full of pomegranate, sumac and regret, and having now paid a visit for breakfast I can't imagine ever going back.

  9. Recognition

    The Venn diagram that describes the overlap between my chatty periods and the periods when I need a coffee is basically just two adjacent circles. This is usually manageable, until staff start recognising me.

  10. Breakfast at Jackson + Rye

    I've mentioned before my concerns about the creeping introduction of avocado on the typical London breakfast menu, but at Jackson + Rye it's reached apotheosis in the form of the horrific 'Avocado Benedict': two poached eggs topped with hollandaise sauce on top of an entire halved, peeled and pitted avocado, in place of the traditional toasted English muffin. Finally, then, a Benedict for those whom the act of cutting and chewing a muffin was just too much effort for that time of day. Finally, a Benedict that can be eaten with just a fork; mash with the back, shovel with the tines, toss straight down the gullet like you're a force-fed goose.

  11. Breakfast at Dishoom

    Cold weather in the UK hasn't so much crept up on us as it has sprinted towards us out of the blue screaming IT'S COLD IT'S COLD HOLY SHIT WHY HAVEN'T YOU GOT THE HEATING ON ALREADY and my breakfast needs have shifted accordingly; the need for warmth, comfort and excessive carbohydrates is paramount, and tea and hot chocolate begin featuring alongside coffee.

  12. Breakfast at Dean Street Townhouse

    In London it's easy to forget that going out for breakfast doesn't mean you have to find the most obscene portions, the most unusual dishes or the most Antipodean staff. Sometimes you just want something solid and unpretentious. Sometimes you don't want orange vanilla syrup with your French toast or smoked labneh on your eggs. Sometimes, you don't even want any mashed avocado.

  13. Nespresso

    I work in an office that has a small Nespresso machine that's been in near-constant use by about 30 people for at least two years. You take a pod, jam it into a slot at the top, press a button and after a few seconds of loud straining a stream of coffee sputters messily out in a way that reminds me it's about time to start taking the state of my prostate seriously.

  14. An unexpectedly expensive cake

    While for many Easter is a time for eating chocolate eggs, my Easter Egg habit lapsed as soon as people stopped buying them for me. I can't buy them myself; doing so seems so tragic, like buying yourself a bunch of flowers and having them delivered to the office. No, for me, an Easter Egg is a joyless thing, as emotionally hollow as it is in life.

  15. Breakfast at Duck & Waffle

    Getting to Duck & Waffle on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower is via a glass-walled express lift that takes you from the ground straight to the top. While the journey takes seconds and is a little bit exciting, I was disappointed I wasn't going to go through all 40 floors in turn. In my head I'd been working on a whole J.G. Ballard thing for this review where the lift would break and I'd have to fight my way up through the floors to get to the restaurant as civilisation collapsed around me and the building tenants went feral or banded together according to how pretentious their children's names were and which model iPhone they owned. Deprived of this narrative possibility, I suggest you all go away and read Ballard's High Rise instead, which more or less amounts to the same thing except it's better written.

  16. Breakfast at Hawksmoor Guildhall

    I've noted before that I'm willing to go to some lengths to get a decent breakfast; for example, braving the wilds of Holloway Road to get to Assiette Anglaise, though if they don't start introducing a French attitude to child discipline to go along with their French cuisine, I may have to reconsider.

  17. Breakfast at Assiette Anglaise

    Update: Assiette Anglaise has since closed. Assiette Anglaise is a vaguely swanky French restaurant that seems to be in the wrong place, just spitting distance from Holloway Road Station. I say 'spitting distance', because this is Holloway; in this case it probably isn't an idiom.

  18. Breakfast at The Riding House Cafe

    It all begins with the pancakes. Two American-style buttermilk pancakes served with mixed berries, vanilla clotted cream and maple syrup. The pancakes are amazing; huge and fluffy and light and creamy. I have some streaky bacon on the side because this is a thing that men do.

  19. My first and probably last fine dining experience

    I'd taken a few days off London to stay in Ludlow, a tiny town on the edge of Wales with a reputation for good food. I gave La Bécasse a go for my first fine dining experience because the other fine dining option, Mr Underhill’s, doesn't do online booking and has a website that automatically plays ambient birdsong. Seriously, that's actually a thing it does.

  20. Breakfast at The Wolseley

    The Wolseley is the only other breakfast haunt of mine that still feels like it's for special occasions, mostly because you usually have to book in advance instead of strolling in, something which feels antithetical to the whole spirit of breakfast to me. Mostly I've only been there for my own birthday, with a scattering of other people's special occasions thrown in the mix. Almost every time I've been, I've eaten haggis.

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