Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Breakfast in London

(One of hundreds of the red double-decker buses zipping around the city)

Let me just say, London is amazing. It is highly diverse, has tons to offer and, in general, is a huge city spread across, what feels like, a very large portion of great Britain. Even if you tried you couldn’t see all of it in a week, let alone a few days. But even so, we spent three gorgeous days trying our hardest. And succeeded somewhat. However, given the vastness of London and all of the wonder it encompasses, I will be blogging about our trip in digestible bits and I've decided to begin with what feels logical, and so happens to be my favorite: Breakfast!

I have always loved breakfast but I guess my love affair with dining out for breakfast began when I lived in Los Angeles. Back then, my favorite haunts included The Backdoor Bakery in Silverlake (Best scones and oven pancake with berries, and which I've learned has since closed and re-opened later in a new location), Figtree's Cafe at Venice Beach (Cool, healthy vibe with a clear view of the Pacific Ocean), and Millie’s Cafe on Sunset Blvd in Silverlake (Amazing pancakes and seriously the best biscuits around!).

So when I started planning our trip and asked some friends for advice on what to see, do, and eat, I was happy to hear the suggestion to skip the hotel breakfast and eat out. (Yes!) As luck would have it, our hotel was a stone's throw away from a wonderful open-air market called Borough Market, which had tons of stalls peddling fruit, vegetables, exotic imported goods, cafes, juice bars, bakeries, restaurants tucked into nooks and crannies, pubs with eclectic beers, and the list goes on and on. Needless-to-say, we had a blast exploring and our taste buds are still savoring the delectable morsels we consumed. Here is a breakdown of our London mornings:

("Dropped scones")

Bordering on fine dining, though lacking just slightly in service for such status, we sat down to a nicely set table overlooking the market below. We both ordered regular coffee, which arrived in individual French presses. My husband opted for "The Veggie Borough," while I selected the "Dropped scones with stewed Yorkshire rhubarb and yogurt cream". Envisioning a basket filled with mini scones, I asked our server how many scones were served. He replied, "About nine." I figured the scones must be pretty small, so I ordered the dish. Well, in case you are wondering, "dropped scones" are the English equivalent of American pancakes. They weren't exactly silver dollar-sized but they were not regular sized either. And there were in fact 9 total pancakes/scones served. The Yorkshire rhubarb was superb and the yogurt cream added that just "over-the-top" decadence. I ate everything. We would be walking everywhere that day, so... I needed my energy, right?

Day 2: Bill's

After a long first day of walking nearly twenty kilometers (!!!) we headed back down to Borough Market with breakfast at "Bill's" in mind. I'd been to their Brighton location some years back when we had a 24 hour layover in England, on our way home to Texas from Sweden. The Brighton location was open across the entire front of the restaurant/cafe and had the feel of an open air market, as we were surrounded by shelves of specialty products and food goods. A slightly different to the feel of their London bank side location, though there were specialty products on shelves here and there around us. 

We were moving somewhat slowly that morning but my cappuccino and scrambled eggs with toast hit the right spot. And aside from the portion being much bigger, it was almost like eating breakfast at home. The food was fresh and tasty, the service pleasant and prompt and we were fed and out of there in just about thirty minutes exactly. It worked out perfectly for meeting our friend at the train station nearby. And getting on with our second day of walking nearly 20 kilometers!

Day 3: Elliot's Cafe, Borough Market

Hands down this was our favorite breakfast in London. Everything was homemade and fresh and incredibly tasty. Feeling at this point like we'd eaten plenty, we thought we'd try for a "lighter" start. We ordered a side of brioche toast (with honey butter!) to share and we each got a yogurt with homemade granola and stewed rhubarb. Hello?!!! The rhubarb was To Die For. It had been "stewed" in a syrup scented wtih star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, and orange peel. Holy moly it was good! I'm going to try to replicate it for sure.

(I love the red steer peeking in from the roof across the way)

Then to top it off we each had a fresh pressed juice of apple, carrot, & ginger, which was a lovely refreshing boost to our "light breakfast." The host was a bit annoyed that we came in with our own coffee, understandably, but he allowed us to bring it in anyway. What can I say, we simply had to try the coffee at Monmouth Coffee Company, which was just next door and had been recommended by a friend. Overall the service at Elliot's cafe was superb. They were friendly and helpful and they even gave us a complimentary slice of their chocolate chunk brioche bread, that I saw sitting out in the bar and had inquired about out of curiosity. Which, by the way, was also to die for.

Needless to say, breakfast in London was excellent and I am very happy with our decision to forgo hotel dining in favor of exploring neighborhood haunts and favorites.

We would definitely return to all of these places, especially Elliot's Cafe. 

Ps: Borough Market, located in the London Bridges/South Bank area, is simply amazing. I highly recommend a stop, or two, here.

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