I love breakfast foods (but then again, who doesn’t?). Because I’ve spent several years in the south, I once frequented restaurant chains like Cracker Barrel, Shoneys, and Denny’s. The visits were often a post Sunday church ritual with the family. And I hate to admit it, actually I don’t, but I love Waffle House. My regular order was the All-Star Special: a waffle, two eggs scrambled with cheese, grits, toast, and sausage.
A full English or fry-up is like an all-inclusive party on your plate with vegetables, beans, meats, and carbs. If you’re not familiar with what it entails, Serious Eats has a detailed guide to a full English breakfast. It’s like the UK version of my All-Star Special. Mark and I have attempted to recreate a full English at home but during my trip to London, I wanted to have an authentic experience.
Franco’s Take Away
My first stop was Franco’s Take Away, a greasy spoon, no frills diner in Hackney. The decor was minimal but there was a sign for Maya Velvet Pole Dancing (I have questions). I sat among the tables of solo diners that were engaged in their phones or the daily newspaper. I watched as the waitress buzzed by, though the restaurant didn’t seem that busy. There wasn’t a menu item that included all of the fixings, so I opted for the special.
I’d like to believe that it’s difficult to f’up breakfast but you can. And it’s by adding too much salt. Which is troubling for me to say because I love it. But the ham was too salty (imagine me saying “too” very dramatically). I tried pairing it with a forkful of beans but it was hard to mask the taste. Since they don’t have an entree with all of the essentials, I won’t go back.
The Barge House
Mark’s coworker recommended The Barge House for their take on the full English which is served in a hollowed out sourdough loaf. The restaurant is draped in string lights and an abundance of small plants. A playlist of soul funk classics played in the background. I gasped when I learned that they didn’t serve alcohol until 11AM. That is truly an attack against Saturdays, brunch, and humanity.
Breakfast in Bread is what carb dreams are made of. It was laborious to cut into but anything worth having is worth fighting for, right? I was worried that the cheese would dominate each bite but I could still taste the other ingredients. I’d go back for the original but the other versions looked just as delicious.
We spent most of our time in Shoreditch and frequently walked by Gloria. There was always a wait; occasionally a velvet rope and bouncer. We decided to try our luck for a table during Sunday breakfast/brunch and it was surprisingly empty. The decor was chic and very vogue.
Ok. I had every intention of ordering the full English for breakfast. But at an Italian restaurant, I couldn’t pass on the carbonara. And, IT WAS WORTH IT. The pasta was served table side in a cheese wheel. We finished our meal with a heaping serving of tiramisu.
During my next trip I plan to try the full English at Dishoom in Shoreditch and Duck & Waffle.
Where’s your favorite full English? Share in the comments!