We enter the final day of the 2020 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists with the “Best Breakfast” Award, which in 2019 went to SLOW Café. Along with cake, breakfast has a special place in my heart.
It used to be that I rarely got up and out of the house early enough to get to places before they stop serving breakfast. However, in recent years I’ve been travelling so much that this is usually a healthy shortlist.
This year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve had fewer breakfasts than usual, but, helped by those wonderful places that serve all-day breakfasts, I’ve managed to get a decent shortlist together. In fact, given how often I have things from the breakfast menu for lunch, I wonder if I should rename this award “Best Brunch”…
You can find out who is on the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
When I first visited the San Pedro Square Market in San Jose, it was home to B2 Coffee but on my return at the start of this year, Voyager Craft Coffee, had taken over. The basic layout was the same and Voyager had a similar offering, from which I selected that Californian staple, avocado toast, for breakfast, rewarded with a single, large slice of toast loaded with smashed avocado, which was perfect.
Back in the UK, The Flower Cup is rightly proud of its extensive brunch menu, with includes a dedicated vegan selection and a wide variety of egg-based dishes. I managed to sample the Hip Breakfast (sourdough toast, poached egg, halloumi, avocado, cherry tomatoes and beans) plus, on my return, the pancakes. The Flower Cup has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White Award and Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award Awards.
Over in Dublin, I had the Brother Hubbard eggs and avocado (with extra toast). Consisting of two slices of toast, topped with smashed avocado and chickpeas, with two poached eggs on top, it was more of a feast than a breakfast. I loved it, finding it an interesting mix of textures and flavours. Brother Hubbard South has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Awards.
Staying in Dublin, I had the cheesey tattie cakes, (with halloumi instead of black pudding) at Meet Me in the Morning. The whole ensemble was topped by a mix of green leaves, including kale, underneath which was a really nicely-poached egg, while the halloumi was very tasty indeed. Best of all, two pan-fried potato and leek cakes were buried at the bottom. A brunch fit for a king.
Back in America, both times I went to Little Woodfords in Portland, Maine, it was for breakfast. On the first occasion, I had fried egg and cheese on a biscuit and, on my return, I had the avocado toast, my toasted bagel being topped with a whole sliced avocado. In both cases, they were simple breakfasts, but beautifully done. Little Woodfords is also on the shortlist for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
Staying in America, my final breakfast was at Fairgrounds Bucktown in Chicago. where I had the scrambled egg sandwich for lunch. This consisted of a toasted English muffin over-flowing with scrambled egg and red peppers, which was excellent. Fairgrounds has also been shortlisted for this year’s Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Little Yellow Pig in Chester had separate breakfast and lunch menus. These have been combined into a single brunch menu, from which I selected the excellent Eggs Florentine, three small slices of crunchy toast topped by two well-poached eggs, with rich, thick yokes and an equally rich hollandaise sauce. Little Yellow Pig is also on the Best Flat White and Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award shortlists.
Continuing the fine tradition of having breakfast for lunch, I had the one-pan hash with halloumi and mushrooms at Wayland’s Yard in Birmingham. This has a hash base consisting of plenty of potatoes, topped by a perfectly-poached egg, all in a rich gravy, served in the pan it was cooked in. Wayland’s Yard has also been shortlisted for the Best Physical Space and Best Espresso Awards.
Liverpool‘s Bold Street Coffee makes much of its “Buoys”, toasted brioche buns with various fillings, but I had the BSC Veggie Fry, selecting poached eggs and extra toast, which was a good move. Although it came with toast, this was on the bottom with everything (homemade beans, spinach, mushroom, hash browns, plus my poached eggs) piled on top. Bold Street Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White Award.
The Collective, in Caversham, Reading, opened this summer, providing café, lifestyle store and grocer all-in-one. I had the Brioche French Toast: a large plate stacked with triangles of light, fluffy French Toast, which avoided the mistake of being overly sweet, topped with copious quantities of raspberries and blueberries. The Collective is also shortlisted for the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award and the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
Although it has made its name as a coffee shop (which sees it on the Best Filter Coffee shortlist) and roaster, Catalyst has an innovative brunch menu too. I had the pancakes, being rewarded with a single, thick, plate-sized pancake. Light and fluffy, it was drizzled with just enough maple syrup to make it sweet but not sickly and came with a variety of toppings. It was, quite simply, the best pancake I’ve had all year.
Our final entry isn’t strictly a Coffee Spot. Rather it’s Amtrak’s full dining service, now sadly relegated to its Superliner Services (and suspended on all routes for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic). However, there is nothing better than waking up to a cooked breakfast in the dining car as the American landscape rolls by. Amtrak’s full dining service has also been shortlisted for the Best Saturday Supplement Award.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2020.
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