Greasy spoon cafes are plentiful in London, but it’s always a pleasure to find one that really makes an impression. It’s easy for exotic locales like Norfolk or the Peak District to deliver a characterful breakfast experience with their crazy accents and bacon made on the premises, but economical city diners have to fall back on old-fashioned charm. For a while now London Bridge Hotels have had to pull new tricks out of the bag to compete with the South Bank’s king of tiny cafes (it’s literally a hole in a wall), My Tea Shop. A stubby, crescent-shaped tunnel jammed under the train tracks, My Tea Shop has long been deserving of wider fame after many years providing excellent fry-ups for locals, tourists and a whole bunch of commuters. Back in 2007, no less an authority than the London Review of Breakfasts called it both ‘a deprogramming environment’ and ‘a manifestation of a fantasy’.

First impressions are hobbity. Being under the railway arches requires the walls to be rounded, and obviously there’s no windows apart from the one at the front. The long mirrors on the walls are presumably meant to give the illusion of space, but it doesn’t really work when you can only stand up straight in the centre of the room. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but the cafe can have the (entirely welcome) effect of making you feel like Gandalf dropping round the shire for some chips. The spreadsheet menus on the wall list the standard parade of fried goodness, all cooked in the tiny kitchen on full view of the patrons. And if you’re one of those unfortunate souls who didn’t spend their childhood in greasy spoons, be warned that you may be compelled to nostalgia by the plastic bucket chairs that have been a standard in state schools since the dawn of education (or at least plastic).

But, obviously, aesthetics are (or should be) beside the point when talking about this type of dining experience, and the weight of judgement will rest on the chips, the eggs, the beans etc. And it’s these things that make My Tea Shop a site of pilgrimage. The portions are generous, a tide of food that threatens to overcome the plate itself. Everything is steaming hot and bursting with flavour. The chips are fluffy rather than damp and the bacon, which can in some eateries be troublesome and unhealthy-looking, is here perfectly crisp.

My Tea Shop is not going to break the bank, or open up a concession in Selfridges, and they pour their juice straight from the carton. If you’re ever in the London Bridge area, and you feel that very particular English Hunger come upon you, this is the place to go.

My Tea Shop

23 Duke Street Hill

Tower Hill

London

SE1 2SW

If you have anywhere in London that you think makes the perfect breakfast, please let us know in the comments. It’s the most important meal of the day, after all.

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