LET’S kick off with the rules of breakfast.
The ones we are looking at are full English, Irish or Scottish. And that’s it. We aren’t looking at places that don’t do fry ups of the meat variety by the way.
That’s another ‘Best Of’ list.
Also, there’ll be no ‘continental’ breakfasts, which are, in Gordo’s opinion, a load of nonsense, an abomination that restaurateurs and hoteliers love because the people who eat them here in the UK are considered mug punters. Throw it all out on a sideboard, let you lot serve yourselves. Less staff and they still get top dollar from fools.
A 98 per cent pure pork is the same as grabbing all the worst bits of pig that need long, slow cooking and slamming them on the heat for six minutes having wrapped them in a plastic tube. Not good my friends. Not good.
Any full English that is served in a buffet style is automatically excluded. Gordo has never had a decent cooked breakfast from a sideboard, apart from two aristocratic residences. Both of those were as barmy as cheese along with being in Vienna, so we shall exclude them as well, but with a wry smile on our faces.
And as for the huge hotel that not only charges top dollar, has a buffet for everything, and then invites 260 covers to make their own toast from one sodding toaster, well you can stick that up your bottom an’ all.
Sausages need filler, by the way, well seasoned. A 98 per cent pure pork is the same as grabbing all the worst bits of pig that need long, slow cooking and slamming them on the heat for six minutes having wrapped them in a plastic tube. Not good my friends. Not good. Especially when Gordo can identify ear cartilage in one specimen offered.
Black pudding. Hmm. We ain’t bleeding Scottish. We are, in the main, from Lancashire. Even people in Cheshire are just Lancastrians who made a few bob and wanted Amphictyonis and Hemera to sort their vowels out before going over to the dark side and becoming lawyers. So, you trendy middle class restaurateurs who have lost your way and decided to get in the food and booze game, get your very sorry arses up to Bury and you will discover the finest black puddings in the world. BURY. BLACK. PUDDINGS.
Eggs. Fresh, large, free range. Fried, poached or scrambled. But, they must be large, not the tiny variety used all over the kitchen - you Dickensian misers.
Heinz Beans very acceptable. Heinz Beans livened up with a tablespoon of Heinz Tomato Sauce and a porn-star sized splash of Worcester, terrific.
Hash browns. Oh dear, we all know they are out of that plastic packet from the freezer. Just think, chef, of proper bubble and squeak well made and be ashamed. Be very ashamed.
Mushrooms? Are you one of those chefs who serve your's warm and wet? Put your hands up. And now stick them in the industrial juicer please.
Firstly people, it has to have flavour. Blimey, there’s a thing. It needs to be on the well done side, with lots of crispy fat, ideally a mixture of back and streaky. It can be smoked, it can be plain. But it can’t be crap. And, crap my friends is what you will get in a five kilo vac-packed sloppy pale quivering mass coming off the back of a wholesaler van. You have some of the finest bacon in the world within twenty miles of you - that's here in Manchester folks.
So sort it.
Tomatoes if you must, but please, let’s have a few different varieties and cook the buggers all the way through.
And now breathe.
And dive in.
Here’s our list of the places that get it right. Not in any particular order, but one of them is getting a Gordo Star…
Has quickly become an institution. Very good, full flavour pork sausage with a whiff of leek, eggs cooked well, super staff, but don’t be afraid of shouting at them to get your own back. Mind you the next time Looney Tunes asks me for the tenth time “Is everything alright sir?” Gordo is going to stab him in the cheek with a fork.
£6.95 with tea or coffee.
House of Fraser, 98-116 Deansgate, M3 2QC.
47 King Street West
A breakfast Gordo takes some personal pride in, is the offering at 47 King Street, opposite San Carlo, where the delightful Hymanson family has morphed a tea shop into an damn good restaurant with breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner menus. Gordo was asked in to advise on how the restaurant could up its game, and, apart from the orange juice, the family have taken on his advice and are now delivering a first class proposition which includes a made-in-the-kitchen rosti on the full English. This breakfast now comes in easily as one of the four best in town. It's a bargain too at £6.95. White tablecloths as well. Lovely.
47 King Street West, City, M3 2PW. 0161 839 1929
Rosti delight on linen
Seems fitting, that for a venue named after the world’s largest primate, this bar-cum-diner-cum-club should serve up a breakfast with the potential to burst one. Scooping ‘Bar of the Year’ at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards 2013, Gorilla has quickly established itself as one of Manchester’s finest destination bars. Still, come dayspring and it may not even cross your mind for breakkie. You do yourself an injustice. Here are two reasons why: the Royal Breakfast is not only fit for a King (a fat one), it’d feed the jesters too. With double everything, the hash browns are arguably the city’s best, the only misfire being undergrilled tomatoes. Secondly, this savvy lot keep breakfast rolling until 4pm so you needn’t get rolling ‘til late. Sleep it off. £11. DB
Gorilla, 54-56 Whitworth Street West, M1 5WW. 0161 407 0301. Menu
Home Sweet Home
Northern Quarter’s best café is not solely resigned to forcing so much cake down your gullet (400kg a week) that your nipples pop off only to be replaced by two little cherries. No Sir. Amongst all the other plates, HSH does a cracking propa’ English breakfast with two frisbees of black pudding, perfectly-browned breakfast potatoes, a locally-sourced sausage as thick as King Kong’s wotsit and a rugged mattress of home baked sourdough bread to mop up all the eggy beany mushroom flotsam. A great NQ fill for £7.50. DB
Home Sweet Home, 49-51 Edge Street, M4 1HW. 0161 244 9424. Menu
Legendary food and booze hotel that always puts on a great breakfast. Gordo has even eaten off the buffet here. This includes the German wet muesli stuff that you can throw prunes on to ensure the end of ten pint Guinness blockages don't ruin the day. Eggs always good, but the black puddings are from across Hadrian's Wall and thus weak little fools. The bacon is finished on the griddle and is riddled with big, chunky flavour. Great coffee as well.
£14.95 for the breakfast.
1 Gore Street, City, M1 3AQ.
Probably the best MCR breakfast spot you've never been to. It’s such a good ‘un that we had to bend the rules somewhat to squeeze it in (by creating our own English breakfast from the Mighty Moose house favourite by adding middling chipolata sausages and a tomato). Moose breakfast fare is unashamedly American, with portions so mighty you need karabiners to come out on top. The mound of homemade potato hash with garlic, onion and Dijon mustard with over-easy eggs coupled with delicious refried beans (better than baked, really) on toast is dreamy and heavier than the celestial sphere of Atlas. Top drawer. £10.50 (due to additional items). DB
Moose Coffee, 20 York Street, M2 3BB. 0161 228 7994. Menu
This lot was in the best Sunday Lunch list in one of the nationals. Being in Chorlton that will be The Guardian then. The breakfast, like the lunch, is pretty darn good as well. Crunchy bacon, they were the only guys on the list who had potato cakes in the mix. Good place to sit and ponder what lies you’re going to tell your boss in the morning.
£8.50 for the breakfast.
99 Beech Road Manchester, M21 9EQ.
Great John Street Hotel
Fabulous tea in a fabulous pot. The Irish breakfast is phenomenal, with white pudding as well as black, which felt, even if it wasn’t, homemade. Sausages full of flavour, right amount of filling. Loads of toast, jam and marmalade (particularly good). The setting is class. Mushroom needs a mention, as does the remarkable service.
£16.95 for a full English breakfast.
Great John Street, M3 4FD.
The Superstore’s super breakfast is biblical. Much like Noah’s ark, the animals (and the rest) come in two-by-two. Two sausages, two bacon rashers, two eggs, two hash browns, two grilled tomatoes, two slices of toast and two field mushrooms that’d probably achieve a good 60m in the discus throw, such is their span. The only issue is that the teensy cute cup of beans doesn’t possess the necessary spill to deal with the plate’s bravado. Beans, beans, good for the heart, thrice more beans I say, and it’ll be a work of art. Oh and breakfast ends at midday? Come on now. We're all grown-ups here. £9.50 (includes tea, coffee or juice). DB
Superstore Grocer & Kitchen, Smithfield Building, Tib Street, M4 1NB. 0161 834 3303. Menu
Chains such as Giraffe aren’t good at breakfasts, but this one was. Special mention for the eggs, crisp underneath, sprinkled with chopped fresh chives on top. Excellent, grilled sourdough toast, good butter. An underlying whiff of a Kentucky wood fire adds a super layer of experience not expected. Liked it enormously. Big mugs for the tea please.
£8.50, tea £1.95
Hardman Square, off Deansgate, M3 3AB.
Nice little Halal gaff on Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter who do a not bad English at all, albeit with that weird turkey bacon as well as a nice line in beef sausages. Charming people running it. Granary toast, unfortunately pre-buttered, great mushrooms and cooked through tomato.
£5.40 including a cuppa.
1-3 Stevenson Square, City, M1 1DN.
Very good, workmanl-ike caff in the Northern Quarter, specialises in men with beards and pale women with dyed red hair and thick black tights. Gordo has been going for five years and is now on nodding terms with Rio Ferdinand as well as Elbow and their 3,568 best mates. Great tea. In mugs. Perfect egg, beans a bit runny, low rent sausage (well tasty though) but bacon needs a step up, sometimes slightly soapy. Magic for hangovers. Everyone loves you on a Sunday morning, but leave Tuesdays alone.
£5.50 for the breakfast.
21 Hilton Street, Stevenson Square, City, M1 1JJ.
Actually, Gordo is taking the mickey here. For paying £406 return to That There London you get to have everyone’s best mate Emperor Richard Branson patronise the arse cheeks off you by having the meanest, most tasteless, boring, cardboard-like ‘English Breakfast’ the world has ever come across.
Don’t, whatever you do, ask for another egg. The 50-year-old waiter in startlingly tight trousers along with hair dyed not intentionally to resemble a banana skin, will give you an outraged, withering look that says this:
“An extra egg? You cheeky fucking bastard, who do you think I am? You don’t think I’ve been put on this earth just to serve your fat arse do you? You think you own me don’t you? Sitting there looking for an extra egg. All you’ve paid is £406. You’re getting fuck all, you are.”
And, what he actually says this.
“Well sir, we are a bit tight on this service and I think we’ve just about got eggs for the number of orders to be honest, but rest assured, if there are any more, I will bring you one”
Fuck you Shirley.
Don’t let Gordo go on about the morning he asked for more than one round of toast.
Mind you Dickie, you’ve got Gordo’s vote to keep the West Coast Line; that other service, the bus people, is a right bag of spanners.
Virgin Rail. One rubber egg, an incinerated sausage, a piece of bacon masquerading as shoe leather, £406. But you do get a rail ticket thrown in.
OK, so, the best?
Great John Street by a country mile.
Follow Gordo on Twitter @GordoManchester
Gordo got a little help on his quest to find Manchester's best breakfasts from the breakfast team at Capital FM.
CLICK HERE to watch the video of Rob, Rach, Wingman and Producer Gorgeous with Gordo at Great John Street Hotel.
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