Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Bites: Home Sweet Home x2

Going out for breakfast is always one of the best things about going away (mornings at home usually involve something green and straight out the Nutribullet), and some serious amounts of beer on our recent trip to Manchester demanded serious amounts of ballast. 

So as Sunday morning dawned - an hour earlier thanks to the start of British Summertime - and we emerged a little fuzzy-headed, brunch at the new branch of Home Sweet Home seemed the perfect way to get the seasonal spring back in our step. 

With the original location in the Northern Quarter being as well known for its long lines that wind out the door at the weekend than for its bakes and breakfasts, this bigger spot in the Great Northern - with a large outdoor area for less inclement weather - makes a welcome addition for those who prefer their cakes without the queues. 

Losing an hour of shut eye also meant their free refill drip coffee was particularly welcome on our arrival, although shifting to British Summer Time meant we only just made it for the noon cut-off point for brunch; slackers beware. 

Being a vowed egg-avoider, breakfast can often be a tricky prospect. Yes, sometimes you can simply omit the egg component (or shift the unwanted ovum to your wife's plate - YUM! - TE), but often they compose a critical part of a dish, or indeed the whole menu - don't worry about that order it anyway - TE). As the saying goes; you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

Which is why a menu featuring pancakes (eggs disguised in a batter are clearly ok) filled me with a frisson of joy, especially when the pancakes are the size of wagon wheels and come studded with bananas and topped with cinnamon butter and a side of double bacon. A Triple D worthy dish of deliciousness. You’re also in luck if you’ve had a heavy night and are struggling to get up and at ‘em, as these fluffy discs of wonder are served all day.

The Ewing debated between their hashes - crispy breakfast potatoes, eggs and variety of meats and veg and topped with melty cheese - and their benedicts - similar, but with an English muffin base and topped with hollandaise. In the end the Eggs Cali; a benedict based around house cured salmon and smashed avocado, finished with fresh peppers, onion and coriander; won out.

While poached eggs (possibly, along with hard-boiled, the very worst kind) are an integral part of a benny, I always think that hollandaise sauce (plus chipotle soured cream and avocado) provide sufficient lubrication without the need for an oozing yolk and I would have happily eaten this eggless. I might have still added a side of double bacon, though.

Unsurprisingly, after what had come before, even we struggled to contemplate ordering a slice of the magnificently gaudy array of cakes that we had passed on the way in. Less surprising was the fact that my wife's selective memory recalled me saying we would definitely still have time for a slice during our trip, forgetting that this was our last day before going home....

Which is how we ended up in their Northern Quarter branch merely hours after our brunch, eyeing up which one of these beauties to have for afternoon tea. It was a tough choice, but I found it hard to see past the 'Take a Peace of Me', a towering chocolate and peanut butter creation, quite literally - this thing was huge. 

While looking the part, it was pretty heavy on the frosting; a necessary concession, I suppose, to preserve structural integrity and to keep the cake light and moist. Indeed, the chocolate sponge itself was exemplary. And although the nutty flavour was a bit absent in the buttercream this was more than made up for by the hefty chunk of peace sign - resembling a certain well-known brand of chocolate peanut butter cup - that came embedded in the top.

After all the excitement, the Ewing was a little bit disappointed by her slice. While the vanilla chocolate marble sponge was, again, springy and light, the coconut flavour was more a waft of tropical breeze than a  full-on Ambre Solaire assault. I think she was also regretting not choosing the chocolatiest cake in the cabinet, which is her usual default position. 

On going to the counter to pay it was almost as if they knew she was missing her cocoa fix, the very kind chap cutting the bakes gifted us of a leftover piece of Easter egg and caramel cake (deemed too small to sell - it too was a behemoth) to take home. A very welcome, if rather unorthodox, start to the day when eaten the following morning and one that firmly met the Ewing's seal of approval. I, however, finished off the rest of the Easter haul. After all, it's not often I like eggs for breakfast.

Home Sweet Home Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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