Saturday, 13 October 2012

EGGcellent! The Oxford breakfast experiment.

My friend Jonny and I have agreed to meet for breakfast every Tuesday morning in Oxford. Just for the fun of it, we’re doing a tour of all the best places to have breakfast in the city, rating each one.

There is no exact science to the rankings, except to say that pancakes are important to me. If you don’t offer pancakes on the menu, your review may suffer.

Disclaimer: Obviously, the reviews are merely the opinions of two twenty-something blokes with little to no culinary skills of our own. We love breakfast – I’ve even got ‘egg’ in my name – but you’d be silly to take our reviews too seriously.

Here’s a breakdown of the ratings:

1* - Do you remember Mr T’s cereal? Nor do I. Forgettable.

2* - A low-fat pop-tart. I’ll eat it, but what’s the point?

3* - A solid bacon butty. Fresh bread. Crispy bacon. But, what? You’ve run out of ketchup?!

4* - If breakfast is the most important meal in the day, I’m feeling galvanised. Some freshly squeezed orange juice wouldn’t go amiss.

5* - Like Mom’s pancake breakfast feast. Nothing better.

Breakfast 1… Tuesday 25th September, Combibos (93 Gloucester Green)

A clean and smart café with friendly staff, though with just a hint of ‘High Street’. Waiting for Jonny, I sat and enjoyed the complimentary paper.  A nice touch.

For 8:30am, a good number of others sat sipping lattés and cappuccinos, which must be a sign of a good place.

The Order
Jake: Blueberry Pancakes (came with a complimentary Americano)
Jonny: Bacon Pancakes (also came with a complimentary Americano)

The pancakes were dense and sweet, and came with a generous amount of maple syrup. The stacked presentation of the pancakes enhanced the experience, but they were on the small size.

Price: Around £6 including coffee – pretty reasonable.

Rating: 4* - A great start to the breakfast tour and a winner serving pancakes, but we went away a little hungry.

Breakfast 2… Tuesday 2nd October, Jericho Café (112 Walton Street)

Jericho Café is situated in a lovely spot, just 10 minutes outside the city centre. Walking from the station, it had a sort of small-town continental feel to it. The café itself is characterful with a quiet sophistication about it.

The Order

Jake: Two Croissants (one chocolate, one almond) + Water
Jonny: A Bacon Baguette + Americano (he knows what he likes)

In truth, I wasn’t feeling particularly well that morning. The thought of a full English breakfast made my stomach…  well, the less said about it the better. I therefore went for two small and plain looking croissants, which were pleasant enough, and some water, which was also pleasant enough.

Jonny’s breakfast was rather strange. Whilst the bacon was freshly cooked, the baguette was cold and came with a salad garnish on the side. Lettuce, tomato, onion… a salad! For breakfast! Perhaps the folks at Jericho Café are keen to promote ‘5-a-day’ living, but it was simply weird, and we couldn’t help wondering if their clock was set to the wrong time zone.

Disappointingly, the coffee was also poor.

Price: £4.25 for a bacon baguette (salad included).

Rating: 2* - Given its high reputation amongst students and locals of Oxford, our breakfast at Jericho Café was underwhelming.

Breakfast 3… Tuesday 9th October, Brown’s Café (Covered Market)

 Browns Café is the original café in the legendary market. It describes itself as a ‘no-nonsense’ café – we agree. The décor was tired and plain, but the service was very friendly and quick (almost suspiciously so…).

The Order

Jake: Sausage and egg bap + Latte
Jonny: Full English breakfast + Americano

I have to say, we appreciated the Brown’s experience. Our breakfasts were pleasing, tasty, and ‘did the job.’ Other regulars to the café seemed to think the same. The coffee was nothing to rave about though. (Where is  Oxford’s good coffee?)

Price: £6.50 for the Full English (with coffee), £5.00 for a sausage bap and a latte.

Rating: 3* - We’d certainly go back: either for the breakfast, or certainly for the cakes we noticed on the way out!

 Stay tuned for more rankings in future weeks. The hunt for the perfect Oxford breakfast goes on. It must be out there…

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