As all self-respecting fans of The Archers know it's Apple Day today. As excuses go, it's pretty tenuous, but breakfast at The Orchard it was.
The newish move of both The Orchard and The Gantry to open for breakfast is very welcome. One doesn't like to walk too far for a breakfast of a weekend, and for those of us in the northern reaches of Greater Brockley even The Mess is a bit of a schlep, particularly as there's no guarantee of a table when you get there. There are, of course, two or three greasy spoon options around Brockley Cross and they're perfectly fine. If you're in the mood for something a bit more refined, though, it's great that, on paper at least, you now have two decent options close to the station.*
Both places have variations on the benchmark full English. The Gantry's is rather on the small side and, with its Toulouse sausage, a little French. Beans are of the Heinz variety and arrive in a ramekin, which is not only pointless but rather emphasises the size (or lack thereof) of a breakfast that costs the best part of a tenner. It all feels a bit controlled and polite. Not necessary what you need if you're suffering on the morning after the night before.
The Orchard's atogether fuller English might not be what you're after either, though. It rather depends on your taste in beans. At The Orchard you get homemade Boston baked beans: a generous dollop of undisguised kidney beans in a sweet and spicy sauce. This, and the little dish of homemade ketchup, give the whole plate a sweet and smoky theme that distances it from what we've come to expect from a fry-up. The wild mushrooms further emphasise that this is very much a gastropub version of breakfast. I rather liked it.
Veggie options at both places are a bit perfunctory, although The Orchard at least makes an effort (one can almost see The Gantry shrugging galically), and it was nice to overhear the chef at The Orchard discussing ways to beef up (as it were) that side of things. I'd recommend both places find out where The Talbot get their veggie sausages from.
So on balance, The Orchard comes out on top in the battle of the posh breakfasts – the Stephen Fry-ups if you will. But there's not an awful lot in it and we're lucky to have them both.
* Brockley Central is aware of the middle ground, here, represented by The Barge, but feels a bit weird about drinking tea in a pub.