By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Ask everybody that you know about their ideal Full English breakfast, and it’s almost guaranteed that no two answers will match. The main reason for this is the colossal number of variables that all contribute to the perfect breakfast, entirely based on personal preference. Tea or coffee? Fried, poached, scrambled, or boiled eggs? Ketchup or brown sauce? Bubble and squeak, hash browns, or even (oddly) chips? Sausages, bacon, or black pudding? Or, indeed all three? The list is virtually endless: after choices of food, the next stage of preference comes down to the means of cooking, then setting. Whoever knew that a morning meal could ever be so complicated?
What’s more, as well as breakfast preferences, everybody has their ideal place to eat out for breakfast. A favourite café, perhaps, a roadside diner, or even something a little more luxurious. For a sumptuous take on breakfast, for instance, there are few better options than that on offer at The Wolseley. However, as the day begins it’s enough of a challenge to tolerate our closest of friends and family, and that’s without having to exchange pleasantries with staff that you’ve never even met before – let alone snooty waiters that pedantically correct your pronunciation of words such as “Cannelè Bordelais” and “Wiener Kaffee” first thing in the morning. One space that’s particularly charming, however, is the Polo Bar. Located on Bishopsgate, just across the street from Liverpool Street Station, the 24-hour venue offers the best of both worlds in terms of straddling the line between comforting greasy spoon and something a little more refined.
Operating since the mid 1950s, the space recently underwent a refurbishment that added two more floors to the venue. Upstairs on the first floor, the result is comfortable but with notes of quintessential British elegance to match the casual service and the menu’s key focus is on British classics, quite unsurprisingly, with their all day breakfast menu taking centre stage. A number of deviations are on offer, including the Polo Bar’s take on a traditional English breakfast, as well an American twist, bacon sandwiches and various egg dishes.
A royal brunch for two (£30) is also on offer, including one glass of sparkling wine each, a pot of tea and a full English breakfast, each. Although a little pricier than an average greasy spoon, which this is not, there’s a real focus on provenance here. A well-cooked Cumberland sausage with stronger herb notes than the usual, bacon, and black pudding are all included, with the bacon sourced from Britain and cured especially for the venue. Even the smaller details contribute to the overall quite brilliant quality of the breakfast here. The fried egg is cooked just enough to avoid unwanted sliminess, while the yolk retains its softness and colouring of a tropics sunset, the mushroom portion size is ideal, as is the quantity of baked beans, and a perhaps unnecessary grilled tomato is also added alongside a handful of leaves which have the only purpose of pretending that the dish is somewhat healthy.
As far as Full English breakfasts are concerned, Polo Bar’s version is very good, indeed. And the fact that it’s available to customers at any time of the day or night most certainly adds to the humble space’s overall appeal.
The Polo Bar can be found at 176 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 4NQ.