If I had known that London was going to endure its coldest winter for one hundred years, with freezing cold temperatures suddenly arriving two months early, I would have done two things. A) I would have booked a hotel that served breakfast rather than apartments which did not, and B) I probably would have just gone to California or somewhere instead. But events conspired and I ended up padding gingerly over the icy streets, hungrily staring into the windows of the Angel hotels and watching people scoff down their Full Englishes, wondering if I could ever be happy like that again.
Help was at hand, though. The Rosemary Branch is a lovely old London pub ten minutes walk from Angel station. From midday, they serve the best all-day breakfast for miles around, and I was saved. The dish arrived promptly, and was huge. Grilled tomatoes, beans, bacon, chips, toast, sausages and some final Unknown Item. I could talk about each element at length, but will try to be brief. The sausages (for there were two) were dense, herby and of superb quality. Chips are usually unwelcome in a cooked breakfast, but these were thick and healthy-looking, with a fine layer of crunch and a beautiful aromatic quality to them. The toast, usually the most boring item in the Full English, was utterly uplifted by the addition of a mustard-accented butter that should never have worked as well as it did. The Unknown Item was mentioned nowhere on the menu, but I believe was added as a substitute for mushrooms and eggs. It resembled a small, solid omelette, and tasted like the filling of a cheese and marmite toastie. It was a strange and unexpected thing, but I enjoyed it greatly, and I love that the chef is willing to improvise and surprise for the customer’s benefit.
The building is a high-ceilinged pub, large but reasonably cosy with the log fire going. It’s very much a theatre pub, with a boutique venue upstairs hosting dance, drama, comedy and pantomime, but for my money the real draw is the kitchen turning out the best pub food in the area.