I started our south-coast breakfasts series in order to shout about the many great independent eateries we have in this area, but this week we found ourselves at a chain restaurant and the experience was so utterly underwhelming that I very nearly didn't bother to blog about it, but then I realised that if I didn't, it would do all the independent cafes an injustice.
Cafe Rogue have 120 restaurants across the UK. The last time I went in one of them was probably at least 10 years ago, but I have fond memories of eating their toasted gruyere and salmon sandwiches on a pavement in a town somewhere in southern England and as they seem to be giving their breakfast menu a push at the moment, we thought we'd try it.
Their spot at Gunwharf Quays is alongside the canal with great views of the Spinnaker Tower. Outside they have a lovely Parisian style cafe area, but inside was tired and a little grubby. Though it was only half full, the staff were languid and disinterested. We ordered a Petit dejeuner and Bebeccino for Theo, Eggs Benedict with mushrooms for Jim and the mystical sounding Pain Perdu for me.
When the drinks eventually arrived (after a tantalising preview which was rapidly withdrawn when a fourth drink on the tray could not be explained) we received a piping hot Bebeccino for Theo and something coffee based that was supposed to be Jim's cappuccino, but wasn't.
Sometime after we had drained the last dregs of our drinks and Theo had told us he wanted to go, the food eventually arrived and here is the absolute tragedy. It was delicious! Lazily presented, languidly served and slow to leave the kitchen but magnificent tasting.
My Pain Perdu was a combination of perfectly ripe banana and blueberries served on brioche french toast with honey and tasted of heaven! Jim's Eggs Benedict (he thinks himself a conosuier) was a delight and the petit dejeuner perfectly proportioned with excellent tasting sausages.
And so as we ate, we discussed other things on the menu we'd like to order (an orange juice, an extra croissant) but no one came to serve us and as the empty dishes piled up on the table, the moment first came... and then went. Eventually we paid and left and I'm afraid, no matter how good that Pain Perdu was, we won't be going back.