Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Underground Breakfast

Bucks Fizz

Aga porridge
Aga yoghurt
Compote de pommes with bourbon and cinnamon
Nuts and fresh fruit

Sourdough bread with brittany butter, marmite, Bonne Maman jams and Carla's apricot jam.
Mutant croissants

Buttermilk blinis made on the Aga griddle
Home cured smoked salmon
Scrambled eggs
Creme fraiche and dill

Scotch pancakes
Flambéed bananas with rum and caramel

Cafetiere coffee and tea
Orange juice

Sunday papers...all of them from broadsheets to red tops.
Van Morrison on the turntable, radio 4 in the kitchen.

If I thought breakfast would be easier, I couldn't have been more mistaken...I never left the stove.
The day before I made Aga yoghurt: I've heard that it's easy to make good yoghurt on an Aga but I've been resisting. My mother made us eat yoghurt and honey for pudding as kids for almost a decade. It seemed like a cheat. It's not a proper dessert!
But the yoghurt I made was creamy and unctuous. Served with the compote and the slow cooked Aga porridge (2 cups water to 1 cup oats, pinch of salt) it was a luxurious breakfast. It's hard to get hold of pinhead oats in normal shops but that works very well overnight in the Aga.
I spent Saturday afternoon making the croissants. It really is a complicated and drawn out process and they looked a little strange at the end, but they tasted good.
People chatted, read the papers, got their table to help them with the crossword.
When I lived in Los Angeles, Sunday brunch was my favourite meal and there was a good choice of cafes that served it...it's a neglected meal in London.
I will be doing a monthly brunch in future...working my way through breakfast foods...home cured smoked kippers next time perhaps?
A little word about tips. People at this breakfast tipped well, which is a pleasure. In restaurants people tip at least ten percent, so why the lack of tips at a home restaurant where it's often bigger quantities and a better deal?
The first few months the tips literally kept The Underground Restaurant going as I was operating at a loss and having to buy equipment.
If you aren't happy with the meal and don't want to tip for that reason, that's fine, the same if you really can't afford it. But if you are happy, feel you've had a great meal in the exclusive surroundings of someone's home, then please tip. It's not just the money, it's a concrete way of saying thanks so much, I can see how hard you've worked on this, how much you've spent on ingredients, the research and the creativity. This way I can also keep my prices down, leaving guests an element of choice in how much they pay.
It's embarassing to talk about it but the lack of tips tends to be worse, I'm afraid to say, on events where I've gone to considerable trouble to organise tastings of say, sherry or whisky, free to my guests. How often do you get a four course meal (often with cheese course which costs a fortune) plus cocktail (also get annoyed when people unfairly take more than one drink) for £30? Then also get free tasting of alcohol? Yep. Didn't think so.

A piece I wrote about Porridge Lady.


  1. I saw this on your ticketing site and was soooo tempted to buy tickets for me and my boyfriend; we are breakfast lovers to the extreme, and porridge is our religion! Unfortunately I couldn't make the date (we come from York so would spend the weekend in London probably), so I'm reallllly glad to see you'll be doing more of the same! It looks wonderful!

  2. Now that is what I call a breakfast spread! Sure beats a bowl of cereal and some toast... hell I'd say it beats a bacon and egg sandwich... but only just!!!

    Look forward to reading about the next Brunch,



  3. A monthly brunch, fab idea! (especially if you do that yogurt again) Count me in!

  4. I'm salivating over the mutant croissants! I can tell they were delicious just by looking at them!

  5. Looks wonderful - very relaxed for the customers! I love smoked salmon for breakfast...hmmm...you could also do different breakfasts from around the world -that could be cool?! xxx

  6. What a wonderful menu, where else would you get great 'Homemade' food, but in a home of course. Anything is good when it's Homemade.

  7. a lovely menu. and tipping is always a nice gesture, i just hate it in the US where the rates have gone up to 30%in places like manhattan. the buttermilk blinis sound fab. i would love to come to your restaurant one day when i am in london. x

  8. Interesting what you said about tips. Everyone seemed to love the first underground restaurant I did on Saturday. But it only occurred to less than half the people to tip. Wonder how I should encourage it!

  9. Ooh ooh ooh that's the jam Carla and I made together!
    (See my recent post called Jamming with Carla).
    Did you like it? :)


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