Even the most casual reader of this website can’t fail to have noticed that Matt likes a fry-up.
Cat will, if pressed, eventually confess to being partial to a cooked breakfast – usually a bespoke combination of eggs and mushrooms with, occasionally, some bacon added for valuable protein – not just, you understand, because everything is improved with the application of bacon (go on, think of something that wouldn’t be better with a rasher).
On hearing that Joyce’s Café, Newport was under new management, Matt and Cat gathered a couple of friends one lunchtime with the lure of a traditional ‘greasy spoon’. It’s probably not by chance that the people that M&C like to hang out with are partial to a full English, so they didn’t take much persuading.
But things had changed down Scarrot’s Lane. When Matt and Cat’s party of four stepped over the threshold of Newport Café, they were greeted by a very friendly man who proceeded to tell them all about the homemade soup of the day, and marinated chicken that he was intending to serve up in a bap. This piqued their interest. It was quite a change from the decent, but strictly transport-café style of the previous establishment.
This unexpected deviation from the anticipated fry-up knocked Matt back – but made Cat lean forward with interest. A chat with the chef elicited further information about how the marinade was his own concoction of garlic, ginger and lemon and could be served in a bun, maybe, and with or without salad – he hadn’t decided and was more than open to suggestion. This was music to Cat’s ears. She loves nothing better than to burst from the staid confines of a menu, and in this case the chef was inviting her to do just that. Cat requested the as-yet unseen marinated chicken with mushrooms instead of foliage: the chef, wisely, acquiesced.
Matt meanwhile had discovered that a chalkboard on the wall advertised more hearty fare – liver and mash, and a variety of all-day breakfasts including the impressively titled Breakfast of Champions. This was inspired. It should be no surprise to anyone that some chaps just can’t resist the opportunity to compare their capacity to consume bacon. So when you set out a breakfast menu with such a call to arms, the consequences are inevitable. Matt ordered the Breakfast of Champions, and unable to resist the challenge, his friend ordered the same thing. Head to head it was to be!
With the fourth order placed, plus drinks, the quartet sat and checked out their surroundings. The venue looked as if it had been given a spruce up but the plain walls and lack of any adornment made it look a bit austere. Still, it was early days for this newly-reopened place so possibly the obvious effort expended on the menu hadn’t yet got to the décor. For Cat, the biggest annoyance was the ceiling fans. At least three were within eyesight and their flickering and her whining was a bit of a distraction – as well as the draught.
The gang chatted about the day’s events including whether or not Facebook gossip was a suitable subject for the front page of the County Press, and the ins and outs of school governorship. The prospect of an end to the summer’s rain seemed (at the time) further away than ever, so as with any gathering of good English people the weather came in for some heavy censure. Little did they know that just a few days later the roads would literally be melting in the heat!
The two Breakfasts of Champions were certainly plentiful. Each plate was laden with thick, meaty sausages, copious quantities of good bacon, and even a sprinkling of fresh basil on the tomatoes. A big breakfast it was and, surprisingly, not at the expense of quality or presentation. Perhaps the most impressive element was the mountain of fresh toast; hunks of brown and white bread, served with butter. A vast (door)step up from the soggy stack of sliced bread toast that occasionally accompanies an all-day breakfast. Not a bad effort at all, and the two gentleman champions both finished in a civilised dead heat.
Cat’s freshly-marinated chicken bap was very tasty and delightfully moist. With the fried mushrooms and soft bap it made a very enjoyable lunch. She wasn’t expecting to get chicken in a little town café and eagerly chose this unexpected favourite instead of her default scrambled eggs.
One thing to notice was that the cheerful chef seemed to be running the show single-handedly. Good effort for a new place, but this did result in some delays and the four meals were not all served simultaneously. Also, as the party of diners was on the clock, there was a possibility that they may run out of time before the factory hooter called them back. The main problem, which may have been caused by the draught from the fans, was that the food was not as hot as it should have been. Still, if the grub itself is always up to the standard Matt and Cat enjoyed then there will be no trouble attracting enough custom to employ another pair of hands. As cafés go, this one is obviously at an early stage in its development, but is showing some promise, and Matt and Cat say that it is a place to watch.