Food & Drink

Champions of Breakfasts

Jimi Famurewa reveals Britain’s 10 best morning menus

Hastily-grabbed slices of blackened toast, eggs like rubbery hockey pucks, gloopy bowls of instant porridge you could grout a bathroom with; for something regarded as the most important meal of the day, breakfast comes in for some shabby treatment. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are chefs up and down the country offering intriguing alternatives to the classic fry-up. ShortList loosened its belt a notch and tracked down the UK’s best breakfast venues.

LONDON

No67 Café

67 Peckham Rd, SE5; number67.co.uk

This café next to Camberwell’s hip South London Gallery has been serving up mini-masterpieces of its own for the past 18 months. Its small but perfectly formed breakfast menu is available until 3.30pm at the weekend and boasts more than a few drool-worthy options.There’s the hearty baked egg, tomato and pepper stew and a veggie breakfast — equipped with crispy halloumi and bubble and squeak — that will tempt even the most committed carnivore. But the star of the show is its patented Full Spanglish. A ludicrously tasty blend of eggs, griddled chorizo, mushrooms, peppery morcilla blood sausage, homemade baked beans and two slabs of sourdough toast drizzled with olive oil.

Perfect for: A bleary-eyed weekend brunch.

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MANCHESTER

The Koffee Pot

21 Hilton St, M1; thekoffeepot.co.uk

This haven of psychedelic murals, red pleather booths and sticky sauce bottles has long been a favourite among touring musicians and in-the-know Mancunians. In fact, Elbow frontman Guy Garvey is a devotee of its bacon butties.There are other options for the more adventurous early morning visitor, though: US-style steak and eggs served with decidedly British thick-cut chips, a Mexican-themed swirl of chorizo, peppers, chillies, egg and tortilla or the cracking smoked haddock rarebit.Throw in the wallet-friendly prices (the famed bacon sandwich is just £2) and it’s easy to see why you’ll need sharp elbows and a keen eye to bag a table at the weekend.

Perfect for: Home-cooked food and rock star spotting.

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LONDON

The Breakfast Club

Various locations; thebreakfastclubcafes.com

Perfect for: A cooler brand of client breakfast.

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GLASGOW

The Rio Café

27 Hyndland St, G11; theriocafe.com

Perfect for: A big-portioned blast from the past.

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LONDON

Riding House Café

43 Great Titchfield St, W1; ridinghousecafe.co.uk|left

Perfect for: A full-bellied breakfast meeting.

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YORK

Bettys

6 St Helen’s Square, YO1; bettys.co.uk

This doily-filled Yorkshire institution may be most famous for its tea, cucumber sandwiches and Fat Rascal scones, but its breakfasts are not to be sniffed at.There are plenty of nods to Bettys’ unique Swiss heritage — it was founded by Alps-born Frederick Belmont — on the all-day menu including a perfectly assembled bowl of bircher muesli with zingy raspberry sauce.But we’re more inclined to recommend the cheese-slathered breakfast rosti, the bacon and gruyere croissant or a buttery plate of crumpet-like pikelets. And if the cake trolley happens to rattle over and tempt you afterwards, well, that wouldn’t be a disaster, would it?

Perfect for: Treating your family to a slap-up Sunday brunch.

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BRIGHTON

Bill's

The Depot, 100 North Rd, BN1; bills-website.co.uk

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There are five Bill’s throughout England, but it’s the Brighton branch to which you should make a pilgrimage. It’s easy to see why the queue outside this legendary south coast cafe-cum-shop regularly stretches up the street. Initially, there’s nothing outwardly exceptional about the menu’s familiar run, ranging from breakfast butties to Eggs Florentine via fluffy buttermilk pancakes. But one look at the hulking square plate on which Bill’s Breakfast arrives and you’ll be sold. The toast is chunky, sausages are stout and high quality and there is the option to have a mustard-laced scoop of bubble and squeak on the side.Starting at £7.95 for a basic fry-up it’s not the most affordable breakfast in town, but the excellent food and atmosphere will have you slavishly joining the scrum outside. Alternatively, you can head to the website to book a weekday sitting.

Perfect for: A lazy, newspaper-rustling breakfast.

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LONDON

Banner’s

21 Park Rd, N8; bannersrestaurant.com

This Caribbean-influenced café is so popular that Londoners who live nowhere near Crouch End make the journey for a breakfast known to remedy even the heaviest night out.The expansive menu — decorated with local ads and childish drawings seemingly plucked from a nearby family fridge — is crammed with tantalising twists on traditional fare. There’s the Jamaican breakfast (which features spicy beans, hash browns and ackee), moreish gingerbread pancakes and Manx kippers on toast.However, we would go for the impressively fiery Banner’s Potatoes: two fried eggs on top of crispy spuds, onion, chilli and optional chunks of bacon.

Perfect for: Hangover-toppling spicy feasts.

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BIRMINGHAM

Utopia

16 Church St, B3; bar-utopia.co.uk

Breakfast shouldn’t cost a fortune just because it comes on a big white plate adorned with a sprig of parsley. That’s the attitude employed by this busy bar in the heart of Birmingham’s business district. Its signature breakfast, served from 9.30am, features sausages, egg, bacon, a potato waffle and French toast. Breakfast butties and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs are other highlights on a simple but well-made menu. And with regular seasonal offers — including a St Patrick’s Day brunch deal that comes with a pint of Guinness — it’s easy to see why this is a popular spot for fun, toast-heavy morning meetings.

Perfect for: A cheap, relaxed business breakfast.

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LONDON

Kopapa

32 Monmouth St, WC2; kopapa.co.uk

Perfect for: A vaguely virtuous start to the day.

(Images: Rex Features)

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