A fry-up fit for a foodie
It is a question that has troubled mankind since the dawn of time: where to get the best fry-up.
It depends of course what you mean by “the best”. For some it is the quality of the food on offer, for others it is the quantity, for some it is the ambience of the place doing the breakfast.
My quest was of a different source – I was looking for a place where I could take a real foodie for a plate of post-binge goodness.
Around 18 months ago my good friend and fellow Foodies writer Louise came to Plymouth for a colleague’s birthday party. The next day, a group of us decided the only thing to combat the nausea of our excesses was a fry-up. As precedent decreed, myself, Louise, and two other friends decamped to Goodbodies. This is a diner which has become something of an institution for many Plymothians. It epitomises the greasy spoon. But Louise was having none of it.
Perhaps still the worst for wear for her night of boozing, although probably not, Louise, who might conservatively be terms “a brassie Northerner” (this is a compliment by the way), questioned the quality of the fare in front of us. Of course, she was right. Goodbodies is a fine place for food to soak up alcohol and I won’t say a bad word against it. But it is hardly haute cuisine.
So I have spent a little time over the intervening months wondering where, should Louise and her husband return to see us in Plymouth, I might take them for their petit dejeuner. And I may have found a decent candidate.
The other morning, after booking an appointment at the optician’s far far too early I decided to see if it was possible to get a breakfast worthy of the name in Plymouth city centre.
After the eye exam took all of three-and-a-half minutes I was released back into the wilds of Drake Circus with two hours left on my car ticket (my bike is broken and I don’t like buses, ok?) and a growly stomach. I decided to head for Bistro One as its owner, Stephen Barrett, chats to me on Twitter now and again.
I should point out that the Bistro’s “adult menu” is a fiesta of local food, and I will be sampling that at some point. But this morning I headed there because I knew that unusually perhaps for a fine eaterie it opens to sell breakfasts, amongst them the purported “finest breakfast this side of the Tamar”. I’m not one to allow such boasts to go untested.
So I sauntered up there. The time was 10.04 when I strode manfully up Ebrington Street and walked in. My shades came off and I was greeted with the shaded interior of a small bistro. Lounge jazz was playing on the stereo. The two members of staff looked at me in a little surprise – they had only been open for a matter of minutes after all.
I was going to order the full breakfast but managed to restrain myself to a sausage butty and a pot of Earl Grey tea, and after ordering settled down to read the paper and send inane Tweets, such is my wont.
The butty was sometime coming, which annoyed me until I remembered I was the only customer and it was being freshly cooked to order. And there was the fact that it was worth waiting for.
This was no limp sarnie of thin white bread, margerine and sausages hurredly grilled on one of those awful flat grills that are used to cook wverything from bacon to eggs. This was nice plump sarnie using Westaways sausages and bread specially made for the restaurant. It’s always a good sign, though maybe not for your arteries, when a sandwich has to be held together with cocktail sticks.
It tasted as good as it looked. The combination of top sanger, a nice pot (really enough for two people) of Earl Grey and the general ambience (cool temperature, modern art and laid-back lounge jazz) gave it a grown up feel. This is a place where you go for breakfast after overdoing the Chablis, not the White Lightening. Assuming the full-plate lives up to the sausage butty, and I have no reason to think it won’t, this is somewhere I can take a foodie for a fry-up.
The only irony is that at work after this discovery, Louise announced she is having a baby, meaning there will be no more boozy get-togethers in Plymouth, for a while at least. Ah well, we’ll all just have to find another excuse…
PS – before heading to Bistro One I grabbed a hot chocolate at Juice Moose in Drake Circus. Exeter-based, it is two floors above Starbucks – in every sense of the word. Good food and drink, good prices and friendly staff and service when I was there. Everyone drinking pints of froth in Starbucks looked miserable as I walked past, no wonder, they should have gone up two floors and had a far better repast. Go there people!