On a roll (and a coffee)

8 Sep

I know a guy called George. “So what?”, I imagine you’re shouting at your computer screens. Well, he’s an awfully nice chap, always has a nice word to say about everyone, yet our paths tend not to cross all that often these days. He’s doing this, and I’m doing that. You know how it is. I think we’re buddies on Facebook, though I will admit I’ve not checked. “Get on with it”, I imagine you’re now shouting at your computer screens. If you’re still reading, that is.

The reason I mention George is that he has the most wonderful way of starting a conversation. “Lesbians, eh?” was one of his opening gambits, to which I always replied with a flat, borderline-Aspergers “Yes.”. His way of finding out how things were with the world from another’s perspective was to turn to you and say “So, the ECONOMY, eh?”, a line which would see a giggle, some tongue in cheek tutting and a nod, and then an exchange of pleasantries.

Should I bump into George at some point in the near future, and that very question was posed, I would not giggle. There would be no faux-tutting. Pleasantries would follow, but only after a good long rant. “The economy?” I would say, raising an eyebrow, with my voice noticeably getting louder, “THE ECONOMY???”. I would stop myself from descending into a Hulk-style rage, breathe a little, then continue. “The economy’s FUCKED, George. We’ve built our society on a house of cards, too little manufacturing, too many people working as ‘Customer Service Executives’ and ‘Numeracy Consultants’. The banks lent to the wrong people, but it wasn’t their fault, it was the Governments fault for…” and this would go on until George asked me about lesbians.

However, it is a dire situation out there, what with the cost of living going up, and the chances of higher paid work going down, but let’s face it: we’re all ultimately complicit in what happens in our society, in how our society is shaped, by what we do and don’t do. We all have a part to play. I am a great believer that we can all help turn society around for the better, provided we have a cup of coffee and a bacon buttie first thing in the morning. Given the state of the nations finances, the cheaper the grub, the better.

Selflessly, I have been to five different eateries to compare the deals on offer, and to review them for the nation’s economic benefit. I considered it my DUTY, frankly, as an overweight patriot to our once great nation. There were some stipulations, however. Firstly, you have to get AT LEAST bacon in a roll, or between two slices of bread. If the deal offers bacon + something else at no extra charge, I will take it. Secondly, the deals must cost, at the very most, £2. Two pounds and a penny is too much in the age of austerity. With those the ground rules, this is how I got on:


Firstly, I went to Subway.

Their deal is that you can get any breakfast sub, and a regular coffee, for £2 before 11am. I went for the Bacon, Sausage and Egg sub. I had never had a breakfast out of Subway before, so I had no idea what to expect, apart from that they’d probably chuck some cheese on it, toast it, and then shove on some lettuce and tomato and some nondescript sauce. I was half right, as no cheese was forthcoming. “Would you like any salad?”, the gentleman behind the counter asked me. “Why not?” I replied, noticing that his hands were in the lettuce tray expectantly, as if it was normal for people to get this in their breakfast roll. The bacon, sausages and egg, incidentally, were all precooked and microwaved, the egg having been turned into an omelette.

Must say, it didn’t look all that appetising. It wasn’t. As much as we all need our five a day, there’s a time and a place. I went back a few days later, in the interests of fairness, and just got a bacon roll and coffee, with ketchup. Much better, though eating it out of a Subway 6 inch roll just didn’t feel all that right, first thing in the morning. The coffee, I must admit, was pretty good. The machine is customer facing, next to the soft drinks machine, meaning I pushed the buttons myself. I may, or may not, have cheekily added a double espresso shot to my coffee. This feature, regrettably, may not be available at your local Subway outlet.

Also, just to declare a potential conflict of interest, I have “previous” with this branch of Subway, in that they once microwaved my doughnut. Why would you microwave a doughnut? You are reading this right, by the way. They seriously grabbed a doughnut from the display, microwaved it without asking, and then serving it in a steaming paper bag. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that the breakfast deal, whilst it wasn’t great, might be better in other stores. Just saying, like. Subway: 6/10


Next, I went to Wetherspoons.

They offer two sizes of breakfast meal, the small being £1.49 for a bacon roll and a small coffee, £1.79 gets you a large coffee. Vegetarians! You too can enjoy this meal, simply for opting for the veggie sausages instead, and the deal’s on till 12 noon. I went for the large coffee and bacon roll, and it was fairly pleasant. Don’t get me wrong, it was dead weird being in the pub on my lunchbreak at just before noon – most punters were having more liquid lunches than I, and I must admit I was rather jealous. However, I was doing this for the greater good, and the coffee was in good nick. As with the well known beer and burger deal, the breakfast deal comes in two parts; you get the coffee there and then, and you get your food delivered to your table. “What table number are you at?” the young lady asked. I was still half awake. “bfasfvat oooone” I replied. I had no idea. I imagine she was used to it, being a pub; I expect she gets a similar response when the night-time guys order a curry after a few Stellas.

The coffee was probably the best out of all I tried, if I’m honest. Very nice indeed, full of flavour, nice aroma, not too milky. The roll came a few minutes later, and was good. Two bits of back bacon in a roll, sadly without butter, or sauce. Wetherspoons being what it is, I had to find the condiments table myself to get some mustard and brown sauce, but it’s not really a biggie in the grand scheme of things. Quite nice, especially for the price, only major drawback that I can think of is that there was no takeaway option. Wetherspoons: 8/10

Just for the purposes of clarity, I did NOT do all this on the same day. Maybe, by way of a challenge, I’ll do the lot the same day. Some kind of coffee and bacon blowout. Go the same way Elvis did, if Elvis was from Wolverhampton.

Next stop was Gregg’s. I guess their deal is certainly the best value of the lot, that’s for sure. £1.99 gets you any breakfast roll you like, and any hot drink, so long as you go in before 11.30 of a morning. So, a large coffee and a bacon and sausage roll? £1.99. So I did. “Would you like links or square sausage?” the bloke behind the counter asked. Just to explain, the square sausage is a breakfast meat particular to Scotland. It’s a bit like a spicy pork burger, I guess. I would say delicacy, but that’d be pushing it. Anyway, I went with it.

The guy grabbed a relatively large bread roll from the counter, opened it, buttered it, grabbed a couple of tongs, and dipped them into the kebab-style trays next to the soup cauldron. He put the bacon in, then the sausage, then liberally covered it in HP sauce. It was amazing. I counted no less than FOUR pieces of back bacon, the sausage was fantastic, and the thing weighed a ton before it was eaten. I certainly got my moneys worth, as it could easily have fed a small family.

As for the coffee, well, it was quite nice. Same machine as the one Subway used, nothing remarkable, but infinitely better than the previous time I’d had a coffee out of Gregg’s, when they had used Nescafe instant. Certainly the best value, and taste wise, pretty decent. Gregg’s: 9/10

Baguette Express were my next port of call. The shop I visited seemed initially reluctant to do me their £1.49 bacon roll and coffee deal, on the grounds that it was at 3 in the afternoon, and the lady was convinced that the deal stopped at noon. In fact, the deal was on until 6pm, though I wouldn’t have argued had I have known what was coming. Firstly, the shop was a halal one; meaning the only bacon they did was turkey rashers cured in a way to make it taste like pork bacon. On a plus point, this was almost certainly better for me than the alternative, and turkey bacon isn’t all that bad. Besides, some of their other branches do regular bacon, so I can hardly take them to town for that. They used a crispy morning roll (again, possibly unique to Scotland, very nice), and with brown sauce added it was alright, though I only got two rashers.

The coffee, however, was pretty poor. It was brown water that came from a tap of some sort, topped up with milk. It tasted like a watered down cup of Maxwell House. Not great. However, plus points for being the only place I looked at to offer this deal after breakfast time, if anything it’ll be ideal for student or unemployed stereotypes, the exact same people who need to pull their fingers out and get the economy moving (he says, tongue firmly in cheek): Baguette Express: 4/10

Lastly, I went to Yate’s. That’s right, Yate’s. The pub. It seems their recent financial woes have forced them to consolidate their outlets, and focus on attracting a different clientèle through their doors. Fair play to them, Yate’s in my mind is synonymous with arseholes dressed in stupid outfits on a Saturday night being drunk, loud, and obnoxious. Like many other pubs, sure, but Yate’s stood out as being one of the main offenders. However, I did feel it would be wrong to leave them out, especially as I’d been to a Wetherspoons the week before. The deal was pretty much the same as the Wetherspoons “small” deal – bacon buttie and a coffee for £1.49, till noon. What differed here is that the coffee was MASSIVE. For the sake of reference, if you are reading this on a netbook, the coffee was bigger than the screen you’re reading this on. Quite impressive. The bacon buttie was the only sandwich I got out of the five places I tried, and it was nice with it. Two thick slices of brown bread, sadly only two rashers of back bacon, but it was filling and non unpleasant.

Again, like Wetherspoons, the table number business reared it’s ugly head. This time, I said “err, umm, by the window”, and the food got to me, albeit 10 minutes after I’d ordered it. In fairness, they were busy. Glasgow had just been invaded by Geordies for the day because of football and some had headed into Yate’s en masse, so it’s fair to assume I’d have got quicker service any other day. Benefit of the doubt: Yate’s: 7/10.

So, there we have it. Britain’s best coffee and roll deal is Gregg’s, though none were that bad that I’d never darken their doorsteps ever again. It is cruicial to point out that you can get buy even cheaper if you shop around; I’m reliably informed that if its a can of energy drink and a Cornish pasty you’re after, you can get it out of Sainsburys for about a quid any time their open. What I have done, people, is offered my body in the name of gastronomic research, hoping that it will provide the necessary monetary stimulus to get the country moving forward again, and that I had absolutely no fun carrying out this research whatsoever. Absolutely none. On that note, I’m hungry. And poor. I’m off to the Bank of England to see if they’ll do me a pizza for under a fiver.

(images nicked off google images, all rights reserved to those who I nicked them off, innit.)

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2 Responses to “On a roll (and a coffee)”

  1. Anonymous September 8, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    'Yate's in my mind is synonymous with arseholes dressed in stupid outfits on a Saturday night being drunk, loud, and obnoxious'I think the main offender is not Yates but those dens of stupidity Wetherspoon's's's. Decent coffee or not.

    Like

  2. Will fae London September 10, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    Ahh, Wetherspoons'es (point taken :-)).

    Like

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