Soho Breakfast Club

I’ve walked past The Breakfast Club in Soho on weekends and the line just continues to stretch out every weekend. That’s why I find it a great place to go when I need to meet someone for breakfast during the week and I happen to be near our Holborn office. It’s just that much less frantic and the food is just awesome.

Take the Pancake and Berry Stack. It’s absolutely stunning and huge. Not to mention perfectly fluffy, and a very hearty way to star the day. Not everyday, mind you. Just sometimes. Best part about it is that the prices are really reasonable as well (this for well under a tenner).

I felt a little bit greedy with my dining companion, deciding to up the protein stake, ordering the Pancakes with bacon and a side sausage. Perhaps my eyes were much bigger than my belly.

They do a reasonable coffee as well – maybe just a little bit too milky and they have plenty of smoothies and juices for those wanting something a little bit healthier.

The soho branch feels really rustic and reminded me of the many Canadian diners I ate in on my weekends in Calgary. Awesome food, very reasonable prices and a fun, casual atmosphere. There’s a good reason it’s so busy on weekends.

Name: The Breakfast Club (Soho Branch)
Found at: 33 D’Arblay Street, London, W1F 8EU

Where’s the good coffee? The Table Cafe

Although I didn’t come here specifically for the coffee, I do have to rate it fairly highly for using Monmouth beans and for well trained baristas who know how to make a mean flat white. I first tried this place out for breakfast one morning, noting that it was open from 7:30am for breakfast during the week (convenient since my client is almost opposite the building). A wonderful place to keep in mind is that it’s also open on weekends from 8:30am for brunch!

Timeout listed this as a great cheap eat and I’d definitely have to second that motion for providing fantastic food in a buzzing atmosphere. Their interior is designed for a number of communal benches and an order-at-the-front style although the modern dining and large glass walls help keep the place feeling modern and comfortable. I liked the fact that it seemed like a trust based system – a customer buys a bowl of porridge and they go over to a separate place to help themselves to the porridge and appropriate toppings. Very inviting indeed.

Thinking I was taking my team out for breakfast one morning, I thought I’d test it out that day. Considering that, at the time of this writing, their eggs benedict (for 2!) was only £6.85, I really started asking myself what was wrong with that.

As you can see above, not very much, although this variant was done with bacon more so than ham (something I definitely prefer anyway). The toasted muffin was light and crisp and eggs perfectly poached with plenty of runny yolk. Fantastic value and something that, I’m happy to report, several of my team members also enjoyed when we returned here the following week. They also do a mean lunch for pretty decent value but it’s bustling all the time so I’d recommend going early.

Name: The Table Cafe
Found at: 83 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0HX
Twitter: @thetablecafe

This first visit was the 8 April, 2010

American Diner Breakfasts in London

Sunday is a great time to do brunch although I had a challenge on my hand when the friends I met said, let’s do it at 10:30am. If it were any city in Australia, this wouldn’t be a problem but for some reason London tends to be rather sleepy on a Sunday morning. In fact, I spoke to someone who’d yet to see any Sunday mornings for the last two months. In an endeavour to go down my list of places-for-brunch, I found that Automat opened early enough (according to their website, 10am).

I arrived slightly before 10:30am, and besides one other small table, the whole place was pretty empty. Having booked ahead, they mentioned there would be a two hour turn around although I’m assuming this was a standard warning since it wasn’t particularly busy when we left, nor did we feel rushed.

Their interior is loosely split into three areas, the front reception area made up of small cafe-style tables, a middle section filled with leather bound booth style seating (which we sat in) and a sky-light lit dining area made up of more cafe-style tables. As much as an American diner as it felt, it certainly oozed a lot more charm than one you’d expect to enter if you were in the States. It was particularly fitting considering the area it sat in.

Their brunch menu did all the classic American diner breakfasts (waffles, pancakes, french toast) and merged in with more of their interesting American style lunch foods including Mac and Cheese, Smoked Brisket Rolls and “Po Boy” Sandwiches. I decided to go with the Canadian stack, or rather a made up version by ordering the Buttermilk Pancakes with maple syrup and blueberries (£10) with a side of bacon (£4)

Their pancake stack contained three fluffy and very filling pancakes and their bacon was cooked perfectly crisp but still had plenty of flavour. Plenty of maple syrup decorated the plate without making it excessively sickly sweet. The coffee (latte) was reasonable though nothing to call home about (too milky) although bonus points for the freshly squeezed orange juice (you get what you pay for (I think it was £4).

Service was polite although not particularly attentive when we finally wanted the bill at the end. I’d return for a breakfast although with their menu, I’d be more interested in sampling something different on their lunch or dinner menu.

Name: Automat
Found at: 33 Dover Street, London W1S 4NF

This visit was on Sunday 11 April

South Melbourne’s St Ali

St Ali is an exciting place located in a side street popular with many people. Even at 10 in the morning, it was heaving with both of their buildings (on opposite side of the streets) full of people. They recently had a street art festival in the street they’re located in, and the spectacular results decorate both sides of the street. Finding St Ali is really easy, since you’ll notice all the people hanging around the only thing that seems to be busy on that street during the weekend. Otherwise, look for the little picture hanging over their doorway (below)

Their breakfast menu on the weekend is nice and varied with lots of healthy options and even the “Big Hangover Cure” (what I had) didn’t feel as bad for you as it could have.

Coffees were perfect and they really should be since they roast their own coffee. It seemed like plenty of people stopped in for takeaway coffees and if I wasn’t so stuffed from the breakfast, the pastry selection looked mighty tempting as well.

Service was brisk but not rushed. I had my order taken and I got to read my newspaper at a communal table of many other diners. It seemed like a great place even if you dine by yourself as many people seemed to be doing that – in addition to a number of couples. The larger groups needed to wait for bigger tables.

Everything about this place is definitely wonderful. The atmosphere is buzzing but not too busy. The coffee is great and I could have kept ordering more and more. The food was pretty good although I have to deduct points because the chorizo wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Name: St Ali
Location: 12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne 3205, Australia

Gunshop Cafe

Brisbane does the Sunday breakfast/brunches much better than London does. Perhaps it has something to do with the lovely weather and the fact that Brisbane is an early morning town. One of my favourites (and there are many in Brisbane) is the Gunshop Cafe. On weekends, it’s one of those places that almost always has a line and since they don’t take bookings, it’s worth coming early if you are coming with a big group. Since I was meeting 7 other people (kids included), we decided to go as early as possible, when they open up at 7am… on a Saturday. Fortunately I was staying really centrally but even I haven’t been used to getting up as early as this any more.

Although West End was very quiet, a number of the cafes were already dotted with people and the Gunshop Cafe was starting to fill up. There are many reasons this place was recently voted Australia’s best cafe. For one thing, they really don’t rush you – it was lovely to take a while to catch up with everyone who turned up (Hamish, Kate & Amaya, Paul, Michelle & Ethan, and Matt) and they didn’t even try to get us off the table. The food is always excellent with at least three items off the menu I couldn’t decide between.

I’m glad to see that the place is continuing to provide great service and fantastic food to the people of Brisbane. It’s a great example of a wonderful cafe lifting the standards in the area and it really shows with some great looking cafes surrounding it. I will miss the opportunity to go back on weekends but I know it’ll be there the next time I come back.

Name: The Gunshop Cafe
Found at: 53 Mollison St, South Brisbane QLD 4101, Australia

The Breakfast Club

A couple of weeks ago, I had to visit a client working near Old Bond Street. Figuring it’d be a nice way to spend the morning, I thought I’d seek out somewhere to have breakfast before work. I ended up the Soho Breakfast Club. I found it a pleasant surprise indeed.

Club Rules

The Breakfast Club is easily identifiable with an exterior painted brightly in yellow. According to their website they are located in two other parts of London including Shoreditch and Angel. Their interior is exactly how you’d imagine a casual cafe to look, with antiquated tables, slightly rickety chairs and wooden benches. The barista counter confronts you as you walk in but take a seat in order to place your order instead.


I remember it being surprisingly busy for a Thursday morning. Their customers included a wide variety of people, some business people obviously meeting over a coffee, a number of people simply reading their morning paper or reading their email over breakfast. Others, simply off for the morning to have a leisurely breakfast.

The menu offerings are simply and to the point. No larger surprises here including everything from pancakes, the classic english breakfast, cereals, and all other varieties of tea and coffee. I ordered the american style breakfast (basically english but with a small pancake on the side). I thought great value for only about £7 or £8. As it arrived, it definitely was great value as I walked out of there with maple syrup and hot breakfast happiness overwhelming me.

I’m tempted to go on weekends although I know how busy the whole area gets. I’ll definitely go back if I ever get a day in the office.

Name: The Breakfast Club
Location: 33 D’Arblay St, London, W1F 8EU

Laundromat Cafe

Going back through some photos from Copenhagen was this wonderful cafe I had brunch at whilst staying over one weekend. Located slightly north of the great lakes, and on a side street off Stroget, The Laundromat Cafe sits welcoming patrons to its alfresco dining.

I love discovering and trying out unique places like this. It was started as a way of creating a nice environment for people to hang out and enjoy themselves whilst actually doing their laundry (hence the name). I can’t actually recall seeing any of them because I sat outside, but I’m sure that they probably have them out back. Regardless, it was certainly popular with locals.

Their brunch menu seemed quite reasonable and, like most Danish cafes, a nice balanced offering of both healthy options, and the greasy fry up. As you can see below, I opted for the greek yogurt with museli, an orange juice a coffee.


Like most places in Denmark, the coffee was great (although quite large), and the yogurt was also served with some fruit. I’m not sure how much the breakfast was, but I remember thinking that it was pretty reasonably priced.

As a tourist, you’re not likely to stumble across this place but it’s definitely worth seeking out if you want something a bit more unique and for locals.

Name: The Laundromat Cafe
Found at:Elmegade 15 / København N.

Albion, Boundary Street, East London

Albion is one of those eye catching places if you happen to be in the area. It’s a little bit out of the way from most normal hang outs, so it’s a great find it you’re lucky enough to know someone who’s been there or simply stumbled across it yourself. It’s part of the Terrance Conran Boundary project, and although you can tell it’s been designed very well, it’s definitely not as glitzy as many of other Conran built places (this is a good thing I tell you!).


While the Boundary restaurant is a lot more fine dining, Albion is intentionally built to be an East End Cafe, though its interior easily makes it feel like you’re in Notting Hill or South Kensington. On a fine day like it was today, the canvas covered tables on the pavement were particularly popular with too many people automatically seating themselves at a free table and then politely being informed that there was the quintessential queue to keep everything orderly and low stress.

Fortunately they have lots of other tables inside, easily accommodating small and large groups with a wide variety of tables. For the ever impatient or for those that want to have something on the run, we noticed a constant stream of freshly baked croissants, pastries and breads destined for the small grocery part to the building. From our looks afterwards, that constant stream was needed as there wasn’t that much left when walked by on our way out.


We arrived at about 1pm for a late “brunch” and fortunately there wasn’t anyone in line when we got seated. My mate Luca and I were waiting to meet Frankie and the staff didn’t have any hesitations seating us even without a full party present. We got to order some drinks (they do flat white so bonus points from me!) and the menu to peruse whilst waiting. Whilst I can’t say that their menu was particularly brunch-focused (it’s the same one they use for the dinner service), it had plenty of options for everyone.

I saw one of the sandwiches they had and thought that it looked good enough and large enough for a significant meal. I had the baby gems (a bit outrageous for some leaves and dressing for £2.75) and a small bucket of chips (£3) in addition to the roast beef and horseradish sandwich (£5) which was really plenty of food. If you’re feeling for something even more significant, they do everything from full on breakfast to Kedgeree, Fish and Chips, Rabbit Stew and a Rump Steak.


As you can see, the portion was pretty good value for £5 and it took me a while to eat all the food. Apparently the rump and the omelette were nice but not particularly special.

Overall all I really enjoyed my experience there. It was refreshing to be in a nice environment (even with free wi-fi) without feeling rushed and hassled by staff who are more concerned about the turnaround than making sure that you have a great experience. The nice touches of freshly baked bread served with butter (additional of course) and just friendly service I guess make up for the 12.5% service charge they add on to the bill.

I’ll definitely be coming back here in the future.

Name: Albion
Location: Albion, 2-4 Boundary St, Shoreditch, E1 7JE Rating: 8 out of 10


Yolk was definitely one of my favourite places to have breakfast in Chicago. Obviously eggs are the things that they apparently do well with omelettes that look like they have about six eggs in them, skillets full of food and pancakes galore. I went again for the second time on a weekend, where the waiting queue is super busy although they seem to be able to turn over tables pretty quick with such a large floor space.


Everything on their menu looks pretty tempting and I ended up ordering the classic eggs benedict, despite them offering several different variations on the dish. As you can see from the photo below, it’s a huge portion with two eggs benedict, lots of toasted red potatoes and fresh fruit on the side.


The eggs benedict was amazing with the perfectly made hollandaise sauce. I can see why they’ve won awards for this dish and I’d definitely be intrigued to see what their other variations were like. I’d had better potatoes elsewhere but it’s nice to finish the dish with fresh fruit, even if some of them happened to have a bit of hollandaise sauce left on them.

Name: Yolk
Location: 1120 S Michigan Avenue, Chicago, 60605
Cost: US$18.03 for eggs benedict, orange juice, tax and tip

Heaven on Seven

I was catching up with my friend Tiffany, who I’d finally met in one in Calgary and she suggested meeting at her favourite breakfast spot, Heaven on Seven. It’d passed through all of my blog readings so I was definitely intrigued and especially appreciative for hearing a local’s view of things. As a typical Chicago or American style breakfast joint, Heaven on Seven definitely stands out as very different bringing the deep south up north with all of that soul and atmosphere.


Sunday at their Rush Street location (they have three stores in Illinois) has plenty of atmosphere including a live pianist playing a selection of music. Decorations also abound everywhere and some of it particularly eye catching. For example, we sat down at a table in their main room, located right next to the wall almost lined from floor to ceiling with different types of hot sauces. Apparently they have challenge that if you bring in a bottle of hot sauce they don’t have, you get your meal for free (though don’t quote me on that). I do like the bravado and challenge of that. Having said that, they seem to have hot sauce coming out to no ends with at least fifteen bottles at our table. Here’s a picture of our favourite selection of them:


They have a decent selection of brunch “hair of the dog” drinks that I figured was more of a North American thing. I’m not normally one to have anything but Tiffany did suggest the Bloody Mary was one of the spiciest around. On this very same menu they also had a variant of a Long Island Ice Tea underscored with a note stating “Limit of One”. Apparently most of these were very strong. I can definitely attest the Bloody Mary did it’s job on both the alcoholic and the chilli front with me literally sweating through the rest of my breakfast.

Their menu puts a creole, southern spin on everything. In the end I ordered the creole eggs benedict, a spin on the classic dish using Andouille Sausage, smoked paprika and an american style “biscuit” (more like an English scone) as its base.


Whatever it was, it was really good. The serving was plentiful and I was surprised at how well all of those flavours didn’t overpower the hollandaise. They even had the right proportion of ingredients other than it was really two portions and I probably shouldn’t taken the other to go.

I can definitely recommend this place as somewhere to go for a lazy Sunday brunch. Its Rush Street location has plenty of character that just works.

Name: Heaven on Seven
Found at: (Multiple locations) I ate at the one at 600 N. Michigan Ave (2nd Floor) Chicago, IL 60611
Damage: US$44 for two people including two entrees, a Bloody Mary, tax and tip