I’m not sure how interesting an ‘Oxford Review of Breakfasts’ would be: most of the time one cafe’s £5 fry-up looks very much like another’s. But there are a few places that devote more creativity and care to the first meal of the day. I’d noticed the loaves of expensive but tasty-looking bread in the windows of the Organic Deli Cafe in the passageway between Magdalen Street and Gloucester Green but had never thought to try eating there until I heard the rumour that they did a very good breakfast. The rumour was correct.
The breakfast menu boasts a Full English (£5.95) and various more bijou options like eggs Florentine, eggs Benedict and fried eggs with chorizo (all £6.75), as well as smaller variations such as mushrooms on toast. I started with a cappuccino (£2.10). It was quite foam-heavy but the coffee itself had a good, full-bodied flavour. Still, the main reason for our visit was breakfast. We had to wait a short while – I sense that each dish gets a lot of individual attention here – but I knew the Photographer’s Full English was going to be good as soon as it was brought to the table and a savoury, wholesome smell wafted over. Ample without being extravagant, each component had been carefully cooked: the star-shaped sausage had a delicious herby flavour, the bacon was crispy but lean and the scrambled eggs were superlative. You might think that scrambled eggs aren’t hard to make and should always be like this but these put several more expensive but substandard versions I've tried elsewhere to shame.
My fried eggs with chorizo was another triumph. The accompanying fried – but not at all greasy – potatoes were a perfect foil to the chorizo, and cutting into the eggs revealed a lovely golden yolk that tasted as good as it looked (organic probably is worth it, in this case). There were also a couple of slices of gorgeous homemade toast. The final component to the dish was a small bowl of Greek yoghurt. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it so I just ate it afterwards as a kind of palate-cleanser, although it was so creamy I found it hard to finish. In fact although our breakfasts may have been a pound or two more expensive than the Oxford average, the use of high-quality ingredients and the fact that we didn't have to eat again for many hours afterwards made them (I think) good value.
The cafe also offers a range of soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes - you can pre-order lunch to collect, and homemade gluten-free items are a speciality - but I’d find it difficult to come back and not order the same thing. Fortunately the breakfast menu is served all day, unlike in some less enlightened establishments. The staff are welcoming, in a polite (there aren't many cafes like this where I’ve been called ‘madam’) but friendly (a certain competitor should take note) way and clearly take a lot of pride in creating utterly delicious food from scratch. I don't think I've eaten a better breakfast in Oxford.
Organic Deli Cafe, 24 Friars Entry OX1 2BY