Easy like Sunday morning - even on a Monday. By Damon Fairclough
THERE are a few different kinds of morning that make brunch seem like a good idea.
There is the cloudy-headed type, when you’ve had a good night before and now need to improve your morning after.
There is the smug, taking-your-time type, when you’ve got a random day off work and want to enjoy a leisurely pace while watching the world around you endure its everyday stresses and strains.
And then there are those Saturdays and Sundays when you need to signal the end of the working week by spurning your usual speedy bowl of Shreddies – although finding a table somewhere decent can take more effort than your daily commute.
Or there are mornings like this morning, when the wind whipping off the Mersey has more edge than U2, more bite than Suárez, and you simply need a warmer, more welcoming way to spend the next hour.
Which is why I find myself in Bold Street’s East Avenue Bakehouse ordering a “nice big cappuccino” and negotiating the breakfast/lunch interface on their menu.
First things first. East Avenue Bakehouse calls this “breakfast” – except at the weekend, when the “selections from our breakfast menu” come under the heading of “brunch”. But no matter. This is all just semantics.
Semantics made of meat, bread and eggs.
The menu offers things featuring tomatoes and avocados, sausages and salmon – a generous selection of brunchy looking treats.
Something called The Ultimate puts me in mind of greasy spoon caffs with their "Belly Busters" and "All Day Heart Attacks" – although the presence of a bicycle hanging from the ceiling somehow makes it clear that East Avenue Bakehouse isn’t the kind of establishment that offers pint mugs of brick-red tea.
East Avenue Bakehouse is at the top end of Bold Street, sandwiched between the longstanding Soul Café (now called “Soul of Bold Street”) and the vintage vendors of Pop Boutique.
Its huge plate-glass window and expanses of white Tube-station tiling give it a clinical feel, but the wide pale-wood counter, busy open kitchen and baskets full of knobbly bread serve to soften its hard edges. On a chilly day like today it could be cosier, but I like the way it crackles with life.
Coffee arrives first and it’s a disappointment. It looks right enough, with a partial eclipse of what could be burnt-sienna powder paint on top, but it’s underpowered, too milky, and doesn’t provide the required mid-morning buzz.
The arrival of The Ultimate, however, is somewhat more heart-lifting, even if it is served on a chopping board. A pleasing pile of plum tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms and black pudding sits on a fine looking slice of the Bakehouse’s own trencher bread, topped with a whipped-up whirl of poached egg and a creamy hollandaise drizzle.
“Are you a sauce man?” asks the waitress.
“After all those years watching 1970s light entertainment shows, how could I not be?” I don’t reply, indicating, instead, that a nice dollop of HP wouldn’t go amiss.
The cutlery provided includes a particularly stabby looking knife – one of the stabbiest I’ve ever seen. I can’t help feeling it’s a little over-specced for the task in hand, given that the bread has had a tomato-juice soaking and the bacon bits are all bite-sized. Speaking of which, the menu calls them “lardons”, but I’d call them rashers cut into strips.
The Ultimate is good though, with black pudding that’s crumbly rather than claggy, and seed-speckled bread that’s pleasingly dense.
I follow it up with a slice of banana bread from the selection of counter-top goodies, and am delighted to find that it has the same restrained spring and bounce as a high-quality memory foam mattress – precisely what I require from such a cake.
And with that I’m done, ready to wander back out into the Arctic air and take whatever the seasonal meteorology wishes to throw at me.
In truth, I don’t think there are many mornings when brunch doesn’t seem like a decent idea, but having the space in your day to enjoy it is always a treat. And East Avenue Bakehouse is as good a place as any to luxuriate over good bread, poached egg and a shovelful of spurious lardons while everyone else you know makes do with breakfast then lunch – with a boring old gap in between.
Read our full review of East Avenue Bakehouse here
East Avenue Bakehouse, 112 Bold Street, Liverpool, L1 4HY. Tel. 0151 708 6219
Overall bunch score
The Ultimate’ – black pudding, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, poached egg on trencher bread: 6/10; Banana bread: 7/10; 2 x cappuccinos: 5/10. Bill came to £14