Monday, 25 November 2013

Karpo - Kings Cross

Karpo – Kings Cross

Located in a colourfully painted building, opposite Kings Cross station Karpo describes itself as a neighbourhood, all-day, modern brasserie-style-restaurant-type-thing.  It is the all-day part that interests me the most as this means breakfast!

I sat down on a concrete bench and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was heated.  They have an extensive breakfast menu, with the cooked breakfast at the bottom of the page.  And that, along with a flat white coffee is what I ordered.

At £10, it is at the higher end of the fry-up market.  For your money you get: 2 eggs, Cumberland sausage, streaky bacon, portabella mushroom, fried potatoes & toast.
The ingredients were high quality; the sausage was big and plump with a great meaty flavour.  The eggs (I chose poached) where Clarence court which provide a fantastic yellow/orange yolk.  But the star of the plate was probably the fried potatoes.  

As I have mentioned previously, I'm not very comfortable with chips on a fry-up.  Hash browns are acceptable, but this was neither of those things.  5 or 6 thumb sizing, whole potatoes, fried and very lightly spiced had a great flavour and texture.  The two eggs were very well cooked, providing two runny yolks, adding moisture to the plate.  Beans or a tomato, I think would have balanced this out further in my opinion, but it wasn't dry as I had feared.

Also worth a mention is the toast, not for it’s taste, but just its sheer size.  As you can see from the photo, it really must have been an enormous loaf!  That paired with the potatoes made this a really filling breakfast; it kept me going right through until tea time.

The verdict

A filling breakfast with high quality ingredients.  Marked down slightly for the balance of the plate, but overall I thoroughly recommend.


Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Asparagus - Battersea

The Asparagus - Battersea

After a mid-week trip to the Sambrooks brewery in Battersea, for a tour of the site and beer tasting (I can’t recommend it enough – excellent beer and a great host!)  I found myself at one end of Battersea high street, 5 pints down and with a serious hunger on!  Therefore, this review was not done with the normal clarity of mind, but my taste buds still know a good fry-up when they taste one.

So, into The Asparagus pub I go.  This is a Weatherspoon’s pub, making it probably the only place in the area, still serving a fry up at 9.30 on a Wednesday evening.  To be clear, I ordered the all-day brunch, not to be confused with the traditional breakfast or the large breakfast, which are only served in the morning.  The all-day brunch consists of two fried eggs, two sausages, bacon, beans and chips.

Normally I would be disappointed to find chips on a fry-up, but as this is an all-day meal rather than a breakfast, I think it’s OK.  Unfortunately, the chips were pretty much the only thing on the plate that was edible!  The food was served about 5 minutes after I ordered and was incredibly hot, to the point that I had to let it cool down a bit before attempting to eat.  There is only one way to get food out of the kitchen that quick and that hot – the microwave.  I'm unsure if it was all microwaved, but I'm pretty sure the bacon, beans and sausages were.

The bacon was like cardboard, the eggs were overcooked and the sausages had no flavour what so ever.  Unfortunately, I think this is the worst fry-up I have ever had!

The verdict
Keep your £5.19 in your pocket, or better still go somewhere else for a fry-up!  This is a perfectly good pub (the beer was good) but don’t bother for food.  Cardboard bacon is not nice!


Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Hoste Arms – Burnham Market (Norfolk)

The Hoste Arms – Burnham Market (Norfolk)

Having complained that the only decent fry reviews come from the Fry-up inspector, who reviews in the Norfolk area, this week’s review comes from North Norfolk!

A weekend out of the city to the picturesque Burnham Market led to a Sunday morning in the Hoste Arms.  This is a pub come country hotel, which does the full hotel breakfast.

Be warned, it is not cheap if you aren't staying at the hotel.  The advertised price was £17, although when the bill came, it ended up being slightly less than this.  For that, you get a continental breakfast including croissants, pain au chocolat, a selection of cereals, fruit and some very nice, freshly squeezed orange juice.

But that isn’t why I was there.  The full English breakfast is made to order, rather than a buffet style, which can be the case at some hotels.  That is a big positive, because no one wants an egg or a sausage which has been sat under a heater for 3 hours.

I requested a poached egg, which was served with a sausage, a couple of slices of back bacon, grilled tomato, a couple of small field mushrooms and a piece of black pudding , served with a round of toast.

Two items stood out for me; the black pudding was fresh, soft and crumbly with a subtle favour.  The other was the sausage, which I believe was flavoured with apple, giving it a slightly sweet taste.  It was a good quality sausage, but I’m not sure it was quite right for the breakfast table.  Better off in a hotdog roll!

The rest was unspectacular and the whole thing was not the biggest, for the money you are paying. The lack of beans meant the whole thing was a bit dry, especially when you consider it was only served with one egg, meaning only one yolk to provide any kind of moisture in the plate.

The verdict

An expensive hotel fry-up which fails to provide anything out of the ordinary.  Adequate if you are staying in, what I have to say is a very nice hotel, in a lovely little town, but not worth a de-tour if you’re not.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Trinity Stores - Balham

Trinity Stores - Balham

As you wander into Trinity Stores the bell on the door rings to indict someone is entering.  You order at the counter and collect your own cutlery, but please don’t be fooled; this is a long way away from a greasy spoon cafeteria.  It is a relaxed Sunday morning atmosphere inside, with a rustic, shabby chic feel and it is pretty much full.

'Full English - 2 rashers of bacon, sausage, eggs sourdough toast & vine ripened tomatoes.' This is the description written on the chalk board. £8.

I ordered and took a seat.  My latte arrived promptly, served in a cup and saucer.  It was nicely presented and made with good quality coffee beans.  

It wasn't long before the main event turned up.  I had a few reservations about it at the time of ordering. 1. The lack of baked beans on the fry-up.  2. The sourdough bread.  My problem with sourdough bread is that it can become very dry and brittle when toasted.  However, no such problems here.  I would describe it more like slices of multi-seeded loaf, served with two good quality eggs on top.

The lack of beans, and the tomato sauce that they bring with them was a bit of a problem.  It meant the plate was a bit too dry and as a consequence the fry-up felt a bit disjointed. 

This was a breakfast made from quality ingredients.  The bacon and sausage were both from Wenlock Edge farm in Shropshire.  The cured bacon had a great favour and the sausage was plump and juicy.  The negative though is that apart from the toast, eggs, bacon and sausage, the plate is pretty bare.  2 mushrooms (a bit of a surprise as it wasn't on the menu) and 4 cherry tomatoes just wasn't enough for me.

The verdict
Top quality bacon and sausage means this has the making of a high scoring breakfast.  But the lack of other items on the plate means it fails to deliver that full Sunday morning satisfaction.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Cattle Grid - Battersea

Cattle Grid – Battersea

A slightly unconventional place this, for my first review.  Cattle Grid is a small chain of mid-range steak houses and the one we visited was on Battersea Rise, a short walk from Clapham Junction.  However, recently this steak house has gone big on brunches at the weekend.  The usual brunch items, of eggs benedict and eggs royale were on offer as well a minute steak with eggs and chips.  However, I went for the “Full Grid”, a fry-up to you and me.

It was a Sunday Morning at about 11 and the place was about 60% full I guess.  The cowhide covered chairs and rather slick looking bar may not be to everyone’s taste, but I rather liked it.

2 pieces of crisp streaky bacon, a sausage, fried mushrooms, a grilled tomato, baked beans, 2 eggs served how you wanted them (I chose poached) and a slice of toast.  For that you will need to part with £8.95 of your hard earned cash.

The highlight was the sausage which was from Hennessey’s, a local butchers.  I like to see locally sourced produce on the menu, particularly when it tastes as good as this.  However, the rest of the plate didn't really live up to much.  The bacon was too crisp and whilst the poached eggs were well cooked with a runny yolk, you could tell that they had not be poached in water in the traditional way (they were more like baked eggs).
I ordered a Café latte, which was well made and served in a mug, which was nice to see.

The verdict
Even though the sausage was delicious, the rest of breakfast was average and the price was above average. 



Introducing LotF

The humble fry-up is not just a British institution, but in my opinion one of the greatest dishes ever invented.  For some it is the only thing that will return them to feeling human again, after a heavy night.  A greasy spoon can form the backdrop to the best part of a weekend.  In short, it is the most important meal of the day and often the most important meal of the week.

So, we have established that I like a bit of bacon and eggs.  But where is a good place to go?  And where should I avoid?  Sometimes I want a hangover cure; sometimes I want a place to hang out with friends; other times I want something a bit special.  I thought Google would have the answer.  And it did, if I lived in the Norfolk area.  The Fry-up inspector is searching for a perfect breakfast in Norwich and the surrounding area.  If you live in the Norwich, I seriously suggest that you check it out.  However, I live in London and whilst there is certainly a lot of choice, there is very little in the way of reviews focusing on the institution that is the fry-up.  If you want a burger, a pizza or a curry there are loads of blogs reviewing these, but not so it seems for the greatest meal of all.  So after a bit of time spent complaining about it, I thought the only thing to do was to step up to the plate (boom boom).

Welcome then, to the site that reviews the best and worst places to get your fried breakfast fix.  I will be uploading a weekly review of a breakfast restaurant, mostly (but not exclusively) in the London area.  So come back soon to check out where to go.