Sunday, 7 January 2018

A fine breakfast starts a good year?

Delighted to be back working with the inspired Allan Cavanagh of 
Caricatures Ireland (
Feels like the band's back together again.

There’s no better way to start the day and this new year than with a fine breakfast, and I’m not talking about a healthy breakfast. Much as I love my weekday porridge or yoghourt, fruit and muesli, everyone deserves a little treat, so every Saturday I enjoy taking myself out for a Full Irish.

Of course I’m aware that rashers, bangers and thick rings of black and white do my body no good whatsoever, but for some bizarre reason the pleasure I incur from the entire experience replenishes my soul beyond reasonable expectation.

Sitting in peace and quiet, taking my time, perusing the lies and nonsense written about the Beautiful Game on the back pages of red top tabloids: it all puts a smile on my face.

As a self-employed person it’s really important I create one real day off each week. That day starts with this breakfast, and when everything goes right, I can import enough bonhomie and relaxedness to turn into a half decent human being for the entirety of the following week.

Over the years I’ve built in my head what others might consider a rather sad list of ingredients to make the experience perfect. 

Spare me your witty accusations of First World Problems. That’s where we live, and anyway, there’s way more to this than food.

If I go to the same place on a regular basis, I’d like to be treated like a regular. They don’t have to know my name or even what I want to eat, but a smile of recognition goes a long way.

In the Full Irish there comes a variety of hot meaty ingredients that require  two eggs to spread the flavours and mix the tastes around.

One egg just won’t do, so if that’s all the menu offers, I ask for another.

Then there’s the matter of butter and marmalade: are they on the table, or will I have to ask for them? 

Oh and please don’t be bringing me steaming hot toast sitting on top of melting butter packs.

At this stage you could be forgiven for thinking that I’m a right little pain in the arse as a customer, but you’re wrong. I’ve spent my youth working in shops, bars and restaurants, and am incredibly grateful that somebody has come to work on my day off.

For years, after I moved out of the city, I went to a pub in a nearby town. 
Each week I’d have to ask for an extra egg, and a little later try to catch the waiter’s eye to see if I could please have some marmalade, but the place was nice, and the staff friendly.

Then it changed hands and I knew none of the faces, and more to the point, they didn’t know mine. Up to then the breakfast had been €8.50, so I could leave a tenner and know that I’d paid a decent tip.

Then the new manager said “€9.50 with the extra egg!”

I looked at her and handed over the tenner, knowing that I’d left an inadequate tip, mostly because she’d just charged me a whole euro for an egg.

She also lost a customer, as the next week I visited another pub nearby and discovered breakfast nirvana.

The smell of woodsmoke doesn’t even appear on my sad little brekkie wish list, but its calming effect was most welcome as I walked through the door.

Two eggs on the plate, butter and marmalade on the table, lovely smiley staff and an all round perfect experience, with enough price room under the tenner for a good tip.

After a couple of weeks the waitress smiled at me as I walked in, asking if I wanted 'my usual.'


Maybe it’s something to do with a blow-in’s desire to belong, this neediness of mine. Or maybe it’s just the passive delight of enjoying good service.

Did I say good? I meant excellent, as on the second or third occasion that my friend Whispering Blue accompanied me, the same waitress told him he wanted the same as me, but with coffee, and she was right.

She took pleasure in being brilliant at her job and we both appreciated it, as we did the food.

As I sipped the hot strong tea my mind drifted off to the last time I found a place that ticked all my breakfast boxes, long ago in Spud Murphy’s cafe on Dominick Street.

Just back from failure in America, I wrote in this colyoom about how much I’d enjoyed my breakfast in that cafe, and to my surprise and delight, the manager printed it out, laminated it and stuck it on the cafe wall.

For months afterwards he refused to take money off me for breakfast. He had no idea how profoundly his recognition and generosity affected me, at a time when I so wanted to feel utterly back home.

Nothing survives save change, and the great waitress is gone. 
I miss you, Katie!

Now they pass me a menu; a stranger once more. Not only that, the prices have gone up.

I'll get over it, because it's my place, even if they don't know that any more. I won’t stop going there, so it looks like I’ve just got to get over myself and accept that my Full Irish Experience now costs €11.00 with tip.

At this point I need to throw in an honourable mention for PJ at the Galway Arms, who opens on the stroke of 9:00 and offers an honest hot feed for €8.50 (or €8.75?), accompanied by his extraordinary vocals.

I mention the time because many places that advertise All Day Breakfasts don’t start serving ’til 11:00. If I waited until then, I’d be such a grumpy bastard I wouldn’t dare inflict myself upon the public.

No, I’ll stick to my favourite place, and take the price punches. 

They make me feel welcome, bring me copious amounts of tea and hot food and then leave me in peace. 

What more can a man ask for?

©Charlie Adley

No comments: