Of course, A.A. Gill was right. He was right more often than most. He said, ‘Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life.’
I love breakfast. I love the optimism of breakfast; a whole day of possibilities out in front. I love the smell of breakfast; the combination of grill, toaster and frying pan. I love the accompaniments; newspapers in hand and tablet, opening a window on the world. I love the setting and surroundings; an early sitting in a light and airy venue with the sleepy quiet giving way to the hustle and bustle of new days starting all around. I love the company; starting your day with the people you love always makes the day seem like it will be your day, a good day. I love breakfast. It is my favourite time of the day. The best meal of the day.
Today, Team Jones met some friends for breakfast in Birkdale, wiling away two hours over mountains of toast, eggs and pots of tea and coffee. What better way to open our account for the day. There was no looking at watches or thinking about bedtimes or bathtimes; just time to set ourselves up for the day ahead.
I have always loved breakfast – as I child I loved it so much I often had two a day; with a bowl a cereal on the smallest of the nest of tables just before bed. You know the ones; with green leather on top, held down by rounded, raised studs in pseudo parliamentary-style. It was at that said table, eating Rice Crispies, that I first met the man who became ‘my mate’ and the fantastic, hands on Dad I didn’t have.
I am an early riser and am good in the morning, perhaps a result of being born at 05:40, so the idea of starting the day with a good, organised breakfast has always appealed. In recent years, I always used a working breakfast as the replacements for the dreaded dinner with work colleagues or clients. I can think of few things worse than giving up an evening at home with my girls so, instead, the ability to offer early morning working sessions to oil the wheels of the corporate world was a winner. I used breakfast all the time – and still do. It was my ‘go-to’ work social event and my most effective time of the day to get stuff done.
Mrs J and I go for breakfast twice or three times a week together, joined by Miss J at the weekend. When not out for breakfast, I prepare it each morning – often a very simple gathering of cereal, porridge and/or toast (mixing up the type of bread all week, with regular appearances by crumpets). Sometimes eggs appear at the table with a march of soldiers. Tea. Always tea at home. We are joined at home by the radio – the Today Programme six days a week – old political habits die hard, even when the obnoxious John Humphrys is on the rota.
All types of breakfast works for me; whether at home or out and about – but the best breakfasts are those in the best places and there is nowhere better – nowhere – than the Wolseley in Piccadilly, London. It is a breakfast masterpiece and the source of a fantastic book (cover included above) by the great Mr Gill. The stylist setting; the dramatic theatre of it; the wonderful food; the simple but magical presentation; the endless stream of perfect tea and coffee; and the people; the people who you always feel are shaping the world around them, making it turn on its axis – all in one place, under one brilliant breakfast roof. It is perfection. The Godfather Part II of the breakfast world.
Aside from the Wolseley, I have other favourite places where breakfast is done brilliantly or brings back great breakfasting memories. These are included below and map against some of my favourite places. Like having water, oxygen or wi-fi, it is essential for human survival to have a great breakfast venue nearby.
When you find your great breakfast place you can relax. It will offer you the greatest choice at any meal time. No need to worry about the menu – it gives you the perfect range from healthy to hearty and everything in between. From fresh fruit and juice to the hardest-core fry. From toast to pastries; smoked salmon to Benedict. It’s all fabulous. For me, it is hard to look past eggs (scrambled), crispy sweet bacon and a perfectly toasted piece of sour dour or wholemeal toast, sloshed down with piles of breakfast tea. Writing that is making me hungry; if only I could find the nest of tables now, I could try my second helping of the day.
My favourite breakfast haunts
The Wolseley, London
Harveys’ Point, Donegal
The Riding House Cafe, London
Tatte (Charles Street), Boston
Moose Coffee, Crosby
Park Cafe, 7th Avenue, New York
The Original Pancake House, off Rush Street, Chicago
The Quarter, Liverpool
High Road Brasserie, Chiswick