Wednesday 27 February 2013

The Shepherdess Cafe - London

221 City Road

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday 6.30am - 4.00pm
Saturday 7.30am - 3.00pm
Sunday closed

Breakfast served all day

The Shepherdess Cafe can be found on City Road between Old Street and Angel.

Having been voted best builders breakfast in Britain 2012 I just had to try it out for myself.

 Breakfasts are available everyday except Sundays.

The cafe also sells a selection of crisps, sweets and cold drinks.

On the wall are photos of celebtities who had visited The Shepherdess over the years.

An unusual touch is the curtains painted onto each window.

The cafe is quite large with plenty of tables beside the window.

The menu had plenty of breakfast options but a full English containing all the key items would have been nice.

Sugar dispensers and sauce bottles don't get much better than this!

The coffee was good and reasonably priced at £1.30.

Buttered toast was available at 45p a slice, I am still kicking myself for not spotting the fried slice on the menu till after I had ordered though..

Everything filled the oval plate quite nicely and on this occasion I chose real tomatoes over tinned.

There were plenty of mushrooms and the bacon was excellent.

The fried eggs were perfect and the chip garnish an unexpected bonus.

The severed edged jumbo sausage didn't taste very special.

Last September were searching for "The best builders breakfast in Britain" upon hearing about it I voted for one of my favourites Harty's Diner in Norwich, also a firm favourite amongst builders. People across the country voted for their favourite and in December 2012 The Shepherdess was declared the winner. I had never visited The Shepherdess (a favourite with Jamie Oliver, Tom Jones and many other celebtities) but was keen to give it a look so the next time I was in London my wife and I headed straight there...

Upon entering - As soon as I spotted the cafe I could tell it was a classic that had stood the test of time with its quirky curtains painted onto the windows and clean but well used interior. The cafe is very big inside with plenty of tables, many beside the window allowing you to relax with a coffee whilst the busy traffic passed by outside. Photo's of celebrities that had visited The Shepherdess over the years hung from the walls along with a poster for Russell Davies excellent book "egg, bacon, chips and beans." The essential selection of salt, pepper, sugar, red and brown sauces sat on each table in classic cafe vessels with a laminated menu wedged between them. Take a seat and somebody will be over to take your order and bring everything to the table that you need, at the end ask for the bill or go and pay at the till. The kitchen and counter run along one side of the cafe offering a selection of confectionery and cold drinks, above the counter hung a huge hand written menu. I loved the feel of the place but the menu I found to be confusing and a tad frustrating. I wanted a full English with a coffee but upon studying the breakfast menu discovered each offered different items but none offered them all. We decided to order egg, bacon, mushrooms, a slice of toast and a sausage as an extra item, I wanted beans and fried bread but didn't see them on the menu, however after ordering I spotted fried slice on a different section of the menu and realised I probably could have asked for beans too. On my search for the perfect fry up experience this is the kind of menu I dread but the style of cafe I love so.. 6/10

Service - The staff working here are great at their jobs serving you efficiently with a smile. The chef popped by to ask if everything was ok and our plates were cleared at the appropriate time. 8/10

Contents - 1 large sausage, 2 bacon, 2 fried eggs, mushrooms, griddled tomatoes, a chip garnish and 1 slice of buttered toast. There were plenty of other items I would have liked but I had already ordered 2 extras, (a sausage and the slice of toast.) The small chip garnish was an unexpected surprise and so was getting 2 fried eggs as the menu had stated egg. 5/10 

Presentation - I liked the way the breakfast was presented on the oval plate with the line of huge tomatoes cuddling up to the chunky bacon. A perfect pair of fried eggs sat beside the very odd looking severed sausage that had developed a distinctive curve. There were a lot of mushrooms contained within the curvy sausage, so many in fact that some had escaped towards the tomato and one had headed eggward bound. The chip garnish did in fact seem more fitting than the occasionally seen parsley garnish found on some breakfasts. 8/10

The food - The bacon was for me the best part of the breakfast, chunky, quality and full of flavour. The sausage did nothing for me other than look strange, it was lacking quality and tasted ok but I was quite disappointed by it and I ended up eating my wife's too as she didn't want to waste the tummy space on it. The fried eggs were spot on with nice runny yolks, they don't get much better than this! I usually always choose tinned tomatoes over real ones but had noticed how great the real tomatoes looked at The Shepherdess and they didn't disappoint tasting fantastic. The mushrooms looked deep fried but tasted good as did the chips. The buttered toast was fairly standard and made a perfect base for those great eggs. 7/10

Value for money - My breakfast with toast and coffee cost around £7. The set breakfast prices here are quite reasonable considering its location but bear in mind each set breakfast will need extras added if you are looking for a full English experience and the price will soon mount up. 7/10

Veggie option - No

Overall - The cafe has a great vibe and it is definitely a popular choice, I really enjoyed my visit and it made me glad that some of these great cafe's still survive. I did find the menu frustrating though and would have liked to have seen a full English option on it. The food is cooked nicely and presented well but that curly sausage is not one of favourite sausage moments to date. The fried eggs are some of the best I have ever been served though and I have a feeling that fried bread may have been a bit special had I spotted it early enough on the menu. Another classic cafe that is certainly worth a look if you are in London. 7/10


  1. Budget Banger Insults Inspector! Outrageous!

  2. I did notice good old Egg & Chips on the menu! A true corner stone of Western civilisation.

  3. Fascinating highlight. Thanks for the menu list.