Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Breakfast at Browns

I've eaten a fair few fry-ups recently, which is slightly unfortunate as I'm going to California in a couple of weeks and far from being beach body ready, I'm more in danger of being harpooned if I get too close to the shoreline.

Still, where's the fun in porridge? Especially if you're in the City of Dreaming Spires for the weekend and you've got the opportunity to go to Brown's Cafe for a proper breakfast.

Inside is old old school fomica and closely packed wooden tables and chairs, pretty much how it's always been; in fact a recent episode of Endeavour - the pre-Morse Morse, set in the 60s - featured scenes that were shot here and pretty much the only thing they had to change were the menu boards.

Speaking of the menu, of course it had to be the May Day breakfast - named for the annual Oxonian celebrations that start on nearby Magdalen Bridge - twice, once with beans and fried bread for me and once with grilled tomato and toast for the Ewing.

Tea is still made in an urn, with loose tea leaves and is the colour of Frank Butcher when attempted to woo Pat in his rotating bow tie (and little else) and strong enough to stand your spoon up in. Proper stuff.

One handy thing about being an ouef-avoider is there’s always scope for swapsies, in this case half a grilled tomato for my egg, a deal I was more than happy with, although I also got hit up for a spoonful of my beans. The other constituent parts were all present and correct – comfortingly paste-like sausage, two rashers of thick unsmoked back bacon, a scattering of token mushrooms and a couple of discs of black pudding that weren’t quite as crisp as I would have liked, but I like them to be fried until they are black on black.

Toast, slightly irritatingly, comes perched on top of your breakfast, which saves on washing up but makes it much harder to construct a cheeky bacon sarnie on the side. Again, in the spirit of sharing, we went 50/50 on our sliced carbs – half toast and half fried slice.

Reader, I can tell you it was a revelation. Whilst a good fried slice remains a god amongst mere men as part of a breakfast, anyone who has ever eaten a whole slice, or heaven forfend, two, at breakfast time will probably tell you there day all went downhill from there. The first, crisp triangle, anointed with a few sweet beans and a slash of spicy brown sauce, slips down easily enough, but soon it becomes an greasy trudge to the finish line followed by a packet of Rennies for lunch.

If chops, chips and cups of creosote coloured tea aren't your thing, then the Portuguese heritage of the owners mean you can also get a bolo de arroz- a kind of Portuguese muffin made of rice flour and wrapped in a distinctive skirt of lettered paper - or the perennial favourite, the pasteis de nata, or custard tart.

After just half a fried slice even the Ewing couldn't manage one of these crisp and flaky beauties, with their wobbly centres and burnished tops, but they were still fine a couple of days later, accompanied by a pot of strong coffee.

While I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks of In-N-Out burgers, Dodger Dogs, french dip sandwiches and avocado on everything nothing beats a good British fried breakfast; I just hope I can still get in my shorts.

1 comment:

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