Feed Café, Portsmouth
The old brick walls of the railway viaduct at The Hard surround Gunwharf Quays and curve along to Portsmouth Harbour station.
Set within these historic arches is Feed Cafe.
It is primarily known as a burger joint – but it's far too early for that sort of thing.
The sun has only just risen over the harbour, and I’m looking for somewhere that serves a hearty breakfast.
My first impression upon walking into the cafe is how intimate it is.
It is a genuinely chilled-out place, with a vibe that I don’t think is replicated elsewhere in Southsea.
I'm tempted by the monster breakfast (£13.50) but eventually settle on the rustic breakfast (£7.50) along with an an orange juice.
The breakfast comes in a sizzling pan, which means it continues to cook and stays hot while you’re eating.
It is certainly a unique way of serving it, and I can see why they do it, but I'm not 100 per cent convinced it works. More on that later.
The eggs are faultless – perfectly fried with a good, runny yolk.
When it comes to fry-ups, it is practically the law that toast must be dipped in the eggs, so this is a pleasing sight.
I'm delighted to see the inclusion of black pudding – a delicious delicacy sometimes overlooked nowadays in English breakfasts, with some establishments disregarding it altogether (which, to my mind, is downright sinful).
The black pudding here has a nice crisp to the outside, and is very soft inside, to the point where it feels as if it is melting in my mouth.
Feed sources its sausages from the Isle of Wight – a decision that benefits the taste buds.
They are big, juicy, gristle-free, packed with flavour and cooked to perfection.
As for the mushrooms, my only complaint is that they are incredibly small; I would have liked them a fair bit bigger, because in the sizzling pan some of them actually burn before I can eat them, which is a real shame.
For me, the crowning glory of any fry-up is the bacon. It can make or break your English breakfast – and if it breaks it, chances are it will ruin your day before it can even begin.
Here’s the deal; the sizzling pan which, as aforementioned, has a big impact on the mushrooms, also plays a major role in how your bacon winds up.
If you like your bacon crispy, you’re in for a nice surprise – being in the pan means it continues cooking, so you get some real crisp on it, and all the fat is gone as well.
But if, like me, you like your bacon to be a bit less well-done, it can be a bit disappointing.
Unfortunately there is far too much oil in the bottom of the pan.
At times it feels as though some of the ingredients are practically swimming in oil, which is irritating.
You expect a fry-up to be greasy, but this is actually a bit too much.
Of course, the oil is needed to stop the food from sticking to the pan it is served in, but I don’t see the point when it can simply be served on a plate instead.
Another issue is that unless you're a child, you can't sit along the wall because the archway cuts off headroom.
The alternative – metal stools – are quite uncomfortable.
There are a few things I'd do differently if I were cooking it – less oil, bigger mushroom, comfy seats – but, overall, it has my seal of approval.
Feed Cafe, Portsea, (023) 9282 0486
(ratings out of five)