My First Full English Breakfast

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My favorite weekend breakfasts usually have some kind of balance of savory and sweet. A pile of pancakes here, a strip of bacon there, some eggs for good measure. Rarely have I ever craved a big plate of meat-products with eggs on the side. Recently, though, I found myself at brunch at The Breslin on 29th street and there on the menu was a “Full English Breakfast” for $23. Pricey, for sure–in fact it’s the priciest thing on the brunch menu–but suddenly I was intrigued. “What is a full English breakfast, anyway?”

Turns out a full English breakfast is, in fact, a big plate of meat-products with eggs on the side (it’s often called a “fry-up”). At The Breslin, which is helmed by the brilliant April Bloomfield, each of those meat products is prepared with lots love and care.

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The sausage, which you can’t really see at the top of the plate, was my favorite part. Super flavorful with garlic and lots of salt, it was clearly house-made and one of the best sausages I’ve ever had. The bacon was also superior-quality bacon, rendered just enough so there was some firmness, but it wasn’t crispy bacon. It was almost like bacon prosciutto.

The most challenging bit was the circular disc you see at the center: blood pudding.

I’m not squeamish when it comes to stuff like that (I eat liver and I’ve eaten heart) but it took me a moment to get used to the texture. The outside had a nice sear on it, but the inside was disturbingly grainy. The flavor was certainly offal-rich. I’ll be honest: I didn’t finish it.

But I ate everything else, including the intensely sweet roasted tomatoes and the earthy, magnificently prepared mushrooms. The eggs too.

Am I a full English breakfast convert? I am not: I still prefer a little of this and that rather than a lot of just that (that being MEAT). But if you want a lot of “just that,” The Breslin’s the place to get it. You may even start speaking with an English accent, ol’ chap.

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27 comments

  1. I’m going to raise a controversial point – some people here in the UK don’t think it’s a full English without baked beans.

    The graininess of the black pudding comes from the oats. I don’t fancy either the texture or the taste, but I’m glad you tried it :)

  2. I agree Laura! All of the Full English Breakfasts I’ve had (here in the UK) have all had baked beans… and I think toast too! Gotta have something to sop up the yokey-yumminess!

  3. Laura’s right…it’s not a full English without the baked beans…and the fried tomato. No tomato??? I’m afraid you didn’t quite get the “full,” AND, at twice the price! You’ll have to try the full “Irish” someday…even better. You’re better off staying away from the buttoned-up establishments, and going to a working class Irish or English pub, and getting a full breakfast there. :)

  4. No baked beans? I LOVE black pudding..one of the things I miss being a Brit expat in the USA. No toast or fried bread or tomato? No mug of tea? Not a proper fry up without them.

  5. ^ Yea, no beans or toast is not a Full English Breakfast and you paid way too much for it.

    Also, April Bloomfield, is she that woman who wears a slaughtered pig like it were a mink stole?

  6. thats not an English Breakfast in my house – its missing the beans, toast and tomato slices. Also, a Fry-up is when you just take leftover vegetables from dinner and mix them with mashed ‘tatties and fry them up on the grill

  7. Black pudding is made with blood, oars and seasoning so there shouldn’t be any offal flavour.

  8. I have to agree with the others here, namely that the beans are vital. The sugary tomato sauce balances the salty fried pork really well. I also encourage you to give black pudding another try. The better quality puddings tend to be leas gritty as they use less or at least better quality oatmeal. A proper “Bury” black pudding is rich and creamy. If you fancied an Anglo American fusion breakfast fried black pudding with pancakes and braised pear is delicious.

  9. I have the same thing to say as everyone else (except Dave – a fry up is a full english breakfast without a shadow of a doubt! He’s talking about bubble and squeak! – another thing you should try actually from our funny little country!) Beans are missing, you said you had tomatoes although they’re not pictured, and toast and tea are both musts. Also the bacon is nearly always back bacon and not streaky as pictured. But, does look much better quality than the average fry up you’d get most places here, less greasy for sure!

  10. Here in Argentina, blood sausage is a very ordinary thing. But we usually have it along with a nice barbacue!! I wouldn’t dream of eating it for breakfast.
    Nevertheless, it’s a great dish as an entree, chopped and sauteed with some green onions, or between two slices of bread: a sandwich called “morcipan”.

  11. Yup, that is a bit pricy…But I think the name of the item would have intrigued my curiousity too. I probably would have ordered the same thing to see what it was all about. It seems so filling and hearty. I don’t know how I’d feel about the blood pudding though. I’d try it once since I am open to trying new things at least once.

  12. I gasped at the price as well – a decent breakfast should be no more than £10 ($15).

    Dave/Jessie, my Bristol Grandma always refers to bubble ‘n’ squeak as fry-up, maybe it’s a West Country thing?

  13. Baked beans are a must! And did you know that the expression “the full Monty” comes from General Montgomery, who insisted on a complete English breakfast every day in northern Africa– (although some attribute it to a tailor in Wales- I’m sticking to the General Montgomery version)

  14. They left out the most important parts, the bread fried on one side in the bacon fat, toast to soak up all the yummy egg yolk, half a fried tomato, baked beans and the HP sauce oh and a nice big mug of milky sweet tea. Oh and your bacon is all wrong, where is the nice meaty “eye” piece.

  15. No baked beans, no toast, that’s not a full English. It’s also way too fancy… The last thing a full English is is fancy! I once cooked a fry up for 10 (10 very hungover people) and it cost me a grand total of about £15…

  16. Absolutely, toast, tea, and baked beans are a must (beans preferably served in a bowl on the side so you can decide whether you want your sausage and bacon to get doused in bean-sauce :)) and $23 is outrageous — this is a €7/£6/$9 meal!

  17. I’m going to make this at home, sans the blood pudding, turn on Downtown Abbey and save myself the money! :-)

  18. Also, I missed this first time round – blood pudding is called black pudding here in the UK!

  19. I love blood pudding. If you’re getting the full English in England (or Scotland, where you find more blood pudding), you’re likely to also eat it with toast and marmalade. So there’s your sweet.

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