Britain is a land of self-declared ‘foodies’ these days, but I reckon many diners still make their minds up about its cafes, restaurants and such like by one simple measure – how good is its full English?
There’s a fine line to tread here. If you’re going out for breakfast, or indeed brunch, as me and a friend did, it ought to be a bit special. But also, you don’t want too much messing around with the much-celebrated meal’s basic integrity.
So when my partner suggested we should go to If – coffee bar on Call Lane for a “breakfast burrito”, I was intrigued but cautious.
We headed out on a bright Saturday and the cafe’s exterior is inviting, with an unimposing light grey/lilac colour scheme and seats embedded into the windows, along with a couple of tables outside. Inside, the coffee shop has a lovely, calm vibe - a greasy spoon it ain’t - with small tables for two opposite the counter and welcoming staff. Despite its modest size, it doesn’t feel poky.
A copy of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem If- (“And— which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!”), surely the inspiration for the name, is displayed. Great to read, of course – better that than nothing – but I can’t help feeling the old boy’s understanding of what it was to be a man would not in a million years be the kind who sips away at a quaintly decorated frothy latte on Call Lane.
Not to knock that, either. My latte (£2.60) comes presentably in a nice brown mug (handles not too small like in the franchised joints), is prettified with said decoration and tastes damn nice too.
My friend was more than happy with a cappuccino (£2.60).
I went for the Yorkshire breakfast (eggs, sausage, bacon, tomatoes, hash brown, mushroom and toast, for £8.50), while my partner had the veggie breakfast burrito (tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, hash brown, spring onion, cheddar, mushroom and served with tomato relish for £7.50). The latter impressed, with my friend describing it as their “perfect breakfast meal”, and reminded me to “tell everyone how good the burrito was”.
The breakfast I ordered looked neat - nothing too controversial on there - and really delivered in taste. My tomatoes - usually left untouched, if I’m honest - had the flavour of the sun-blushed kind.
The sourdough was buttered enough not to lacerate my gums in the way it can do, and the two poached eggs (you choose how they’re cooked) were done very well – runny but not sopping.
No beans, though. Distressing, I know, but with all the other great flavours - the two sausages and two bacon rashers were lovely – I didn’t really think about it.