Sizzling sausages, runny eggs, crispy bacon, succulent baked beans, warming hash browns, greasy fried bread and a cup of tea – there’s nothing quite like the British skillet.
It’s a staple for us Brits, but it’s not always without the occasional hiccup – especially if you’re trying to get it cheap.
And the hangout that often gets the most mixed reviews is the food served in supermarket cafes, as The Manchester Evening News’ Bethan Shufflebotham found out.
Bethan decided to make it his mission to find out which supermarket had the best pitstop fries and sampled offerings from Morrisons, Asda and Tesco.
And the end result left her stunned, having just found out one — and maybe a half — could serve a runny yolk between them.
And it wasn’t the only mishap, from a rock-hard black pudding to a three-mile drive to eat. So went Bethan’s mission to find the best roast.
The cafe at my local Morrisons store is currently undergoing a makeover, although a sign outside reads ‘Your new look Morrisons cafe is now open’.
Honestly, I’d be interested to see how it was before, because despite the addition of a few touchscreen pads to order, the rest of the venue still feels fairly dated, reminiscent of an all-inclusive breakfast bar in a cheap Spanish resort.
I quickly perused a paper menu before ordering on a touchscreen pad – something most of us are familiar with these days.
My first hiccup came when they asked for a table number and I didn’t have one as I hadn’t selected a table to sit on yet.
I peeked around the corner and saw that table five was empty so I entered. However, as I ate alone, I couldn’t ‘save’ a table and risked having someone seated at number five before I had completed my order.
On screen I ordered the ultimate breakfast of three sausages, two rashers of bacon, two flat mushrooms, half a tomato, two slices of black pudding, two hash browns, Heinz Baked Beans and a slice of fried bread for £7.49.
Manchester Evening News (WS)
When I clicked add to order the screen tried to sell me some chips for an extra £1 so I clicked yes.
I had a sweet tooth, so I also ordered one of the fresh pies on the menu – a lemon meringue pie – and paid by card before sitting down.
I realized I hadn’t ordered a drink so I left my receipt on my table when I went to the Tropicana self service orange juice dispenser and paid £1.99 for it at the till and sat down a second time.
When my food arrived I found I had no cutlery so I asked a member of staff where I could find it and it was on a separate counter across the room.
Again, I grabbed my bag, phone, and keys, grabbed some cutlery, and sat back down to eat.
Before I even cut into the egg I could tell it was overdone and that the beans had sat for a while after developing that little film on the top, but as someone who doesn’t particularly like sauce I have that a lot appreciated. These were served in a separate pot.
The bacon and sausage were both ok but nothing special, while one of the two pieces of black pudding was as firm as a lump of coal. I really think I could have used it as a fire starter.
Personally, I found the hashbrowns to be overly onion, and the fried bread made an embarrassing amount of mess when I broke it in half – although it tasted pretty good and the fries were fine, although certainly not needed as the portion is quite large is big anyway.
When I was finished I remembered my cake but no member of staff seemed to be around to ask for it nor did I just want to get up and take it from the counter seemingly without paying.
I waited five minutes but stopped the surgery because I was feeling a bit exhausted at that point; I’ll satisfy my sugary lemon craving another time.
Later in the week I visited a Tesco coffee shop which felt much more modern, lighter and more spacious.
Pink and blue upholstered chairs were neatly tucked under tables that were well spaced apart, creating a relaxed atmosphere.
Breakfast was a modest £4.90 and consisted of pork sausage, bacon strips, free range egg, two hash browns, roast tomatoes, baked beans and white toast which could be upgraded to sourdough for 85p, which I did.
Again opting for orange juice, which I believe is the superior fried drink, I felt like I was being robbed as a bottle of Tropicana was £2.15, especially when you can get a four pack for £3 in the shop be able.
Food was served fairly quickly with cutlery and a napkin, and I was thrilled to find a runny yolk to dip my hash browns in.
The egg was perfectly round, so I’m guessing the kitchen has a handy gadget to help them achieve this.
I have to say, while the sausage and bacon were good, I would have been more than happy to pay a bit more for two sausages and two bacon rashers, which would have been a bit more substantial.
That said, what was on the plate was well prepared and delicious – the rösti was an absolute delight, crispy, fluffy and delicious.
The sourdough came with a small bowl of butter for spreading, melted in the heat of the bacon, making it easier to spread, and a welcome fizzy addition to the meal.
In general my Tesco cafe experience was my favorite as I didn’t have to play gaming chairs before I could eat and it was the cheapest of them all.
At the end of the week, I went to the Asda cafe counter to order an all-day brunch, only to say, “Sorry, we can’t brunch all day as we’ve run out of sausages and bacon”. Solid start.
I got back in my car and drove three miles to the nearest branch hoping I could still enjoy a lunchtime breakfast deal and I was lucky.
Here I was able to order an all day brunch for £5.90 as well as an Oasis citrus punch as no other orange juice was available.
The brunch included two sausages, two rashers of bacon, two eggs, tomatoes, baked beans, and fries instead of hash browns or toast, which didn’t bother me too much.
The Asda Cafe’s sausages were more chip shop style than the rest, while the fries tasted like oven chips and were a bit dry. My local chippy offerings are way better.
Manchester Evening News (WS)
The atmosphere was tense at times, largely because, according to cafe staff, the place was “testing their fire alarm,” meaning a long, loud, screeching beep interrupted my meal three times.
However the bacon was good and one of the eggs saw a slightly runny yolk but not nearly as good as Tesco and the other was totally over cooked.
For me Tesco won on price, atmosphere and quality, what was on the plate was great, just wish there was a bit more of it.
For me, Morrisons was the most stressful experience for the time I had to get up.
While it was the largest plate of food, it wasn’t great and the price was quite high for the quality.
Asda’s food was cheap and cheerful, but it just couldn’t beat Tesco’s roast, despite the extra bacon and sausage. Although I can’t imagine that I’ll be eating out soon after the weekly shop, one way or the other.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/i-tried-fry-ups-morrisons-26969120 "I've tried fries at Morrisons, Tesco and Asda cafes - there have been numerous failures"