We enter the final day of the 2021 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists with the “Best Breakfast” Award, which in 2020 went to Catalyst. 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, I’ve been doing a lot better recently, so I’m now able to generate a healthy shortlist this year, helped by those wonderful places that serve all-day breakfasts! 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 see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Let’s get things under way with The Green Wood Café in Coalbrookedale, where I had the fabulous Lodge Brunch. A veritable feast of scrambled egg, mushrooms, beans, hash browns and sourdough toast, to which I added a side of vegan bacon, I enjoyed this sitting in one of the gazebos which saw The Green Wood Café on the shortlist for the Best Outdoor Seating Award.
Occupying an old garage in Marlow, Coopers Roastery & Coffee Bar is exactly what the name suggests, with the coffee roasters (earning a place on the Best Roaster/Retailer shortlist) at the back of a large, open space, while the coffee bar is on the left. However, it’s more than that, since you can add lounge (shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award) and kitchen, which cooked up my breakfast of poached eggs on guacamole and toast.
Riverbanc, in Llangollen, has an amazing terrace at the back, overlooking the roaring River Dee (shortlisted for Best Outdoor Seating), where I had my breakfast, the Vegetarian Stacked, an epic feast with poached egg, halloumi, mushrooms, and a potato croquette on seeded toast, plus beans on the side. Riverbanc has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
As much as I love my classical breakfasts, I always enjoying trying something different, so when I was at Surbeanton in Surbiton, I went for its take on Eggs Florentine. It was the first time I’ve had Eggs Florentine with a purple sauce, but any misgivings I might have had over the colour were dispelled when I tucked in, my breakfast proving to be both tasty and very filling.
Staying in Surbiton, I had the Wag N Tales special breakfast. Consisting of two poached eggs, homemade beans, spicy potatoes, tomato and two sausages (one vegetarian, one vegan), plus a generous helping of sourdough toast, it was very tasty and extremely filling. Wags N Tales has also been shortlisted for the Best Physical Space and Best Espresso Awards.
Moving on to Coventry, Gloria & Lil’s has a unique bagel/flatbread-based breakfast. There are plenty of pre-determined toppings, or you can go freestyle and build your own. I went for a flatbread wrap (you can also have them flat) with masses of halloumi, avocado and tomato. The flatbread, by the way, is very light and fluffy, more like a naan in texture than a chapati to use an Indian food analogy.
Continuing to move north, Ginger Monkey offers various toast/bread options for breakfast. I had a toasted brioche bun with avocado, mushroom, tomato and hash brown, which arrived as a massive stack, a base of smashed avocado followed by a single mushroom, thick slice of tomato and a hash brown. Ginger Monkey has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White Award.
Reykjavik Roasters, Kárastígur
You can’t get much further north than Iceland, where Amanda and I made two breakfast visits to Reykjavik Roasters on Kárastígur, for a combination of oatmeal porridge and sourdough toast with jam & cheese. Porridge (rich & creamy) and toast (tasty & crunchy) were both excellent. It’s also on the Best Physical Space and Best Filter Coffee shortlists.
Saint Kitchen, on the south-eastern edge of St Paul’s Square in the Jewellery Quarter, has long been a part of Birmingham’s speciality coffee scene, where I’ve enjoyed many fine breakfasts. It’s recently changed hands, but I can report that the breakfasts are as fine as ever. I had the halloumi and avocado bagel, which was excellent, from the bagel itself to the toppings, the halloumi and avocado going particularly well together.
Story Coffee made its name serving awesome brunches and excellent coffee in a fairly small place on St John’s Hill. I’m pleased to say it’s continued this reputation in its new flagship coffee shop in Wandsworth. The coffee was good enough for a place on the shortlist for Best Filter Coffee, while I had an excellent smashed avocado on sourdough, two perfectly-poached eggs, balanced on the top of the massed avocado.
This is the original Medicine bakery/cafe in Codsall, where Amanda and I had a pair of awesome breakfasts, followed by some equally awesome cakes (good enough for the shortlist for the Best Cake Award). The breakfasts were both the Vegan Medicine from the brunch menu, which we promptly turned vegetarian by adding halloumi, while I ordered a poached egg to round things off.
Back in Wandsworth, I had a vegetarian Big Breakfast at Another Brother. While not on the menu, the staff happily switched the sausage and bacon of the standard Big Breakfast for avocado and extra toast to go with two poached eggs, mushroom, halloumi, tomato and sourdough toast. A brunch fit for a king. Another Brother is also on the shortlists for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award and Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.
Staying in South West London London, Earlsfield’s Bean and Hop served me its Full Lebanese Breakfast. This was an interesting combination of tastes and textures, with scrambled eggs, spinach falafel, hummus, roast tomatoes, pickled turnip, za’atar yoghurt and grilled halloumi, all with a side of sourdough toast. By default, it’s vegetarian, although there is a vegan option (swap scrambled tofu for eggs and mushrooms for halloumi).
From Earlsfield to Tooting Bec, where I had Green Monkey’s weekly special, consisting of smashed avocado, halloumi and poached eggs on corn fritters. While the eggs were awesome and the halloumi was excellent, the fritters were even better, interleaved with the halloumi in a horizontal stack on top of a bed of smashed avocado. Green Monkey has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award.
The second Little Yellow Pig follows the original’s winning formula of excellent food and great coffee. Case in point was my veggie breakfast of fried eggs, avocado, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, halloumi, a pot of beans and a slice of toast. Little Yellow Pig is also on the Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot shortlists.
And the winner is Little Yellow Pig, Nantwich
Runners-up: Green Monkey London and The Green Wood Café
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2021.
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