THE fresh start effect, felt at the beginning of every year, often leads to a variety of New Year’s resolutions. On January 1, the ancient Romans would make offerings to their gods, and promise to behave more virtuously.

By the early 20th century, a popular resolution was to swear less, and to attend church regularly; more recently, resolutions seem to focus on weight loss, whether for medical reasons, or to conform to society’s perception of what and who looks good.

Full English breakfast at Antonio’s

Although I’ve never been big on resolutions, an opportunity for new beginnings cannot be ignored. Why not make 2022 the year to release my inner Davina Mountford and become well-muscled and beautiful? A quick look at the bulking diet plan required before the packing on of lean muscle could commence, was an immediate turn-off. Eight meals a day and six egg omelettes for breakfast is a big ask, even for a committed foodie, whose job it is to eat out and review restaurants around the country. Resolutions involving dieting for weight loss being out of the question, George and I hit the ground running last Saturday morning, in search of a full English breakfast in Sam Levy’s Village.

In spite of the surge in COVID-19 since Christmas, just about every restaurant in the Village seemed to be pumping. We made our way to Antonio’s, not far from Spar supermarket, a restaurant that had been on my to visit list for some months. At 9.30 am, staff were still sweeping the floors and putting tables and chairs in order. A cheerfully pleasant waiter confirmed that breakfast could be served,  and directed us to a table for two on the verandah, overlooking a rippling stream, palm trees and ferns. The gentle croaking of a lone frog could be heard, and we were the only patrons for the next half hour.

The only breakfast option available was a full English breakfast, and what a cracker it was. Two poached eggs, neither runny nor rubbery, but perfectly cooked to medium, several slices of back bacon, grilled tomato, crisp French fries, toast, and a delicious sausage, cooked through and sear-roasted to a golden brown. On the side were home made aioli (garlic mayo), chilli sauce and a fiery salsa of red and green chillis in olive oil. French fries with aioli is a fast food classic, while pairing the grilled sausage with a chilli salsa ensured that breakfast went off with a bang.

Cappuccino coffee, made from roasted coffee beans from Farfell Estate in Chipinge, was subtly bitter, aromatic, fragrant and delicious. Most restaurants and cafes in the country have trained baristas at work, and make good coffee, but oh, oh, Antonio! The cappuccino at your restaurant is exceptional.

Antonio’s is a popular venue for lunch and dinner, and while George and I lingered over our breakfast, tables were being pushed together for large groups, and reserved signs appeared on almost every table. The menu is wide, and includes options for seafood, pork, chicken, beef, pasta and pizzas in addition to a sushi and cocktail menu.

A table for two at Antonio’s

A similar breakfast is on offer for half the price at different establishments in the Village, but whether it would taste as good, or be served in such pleasant surroundings, remains to be discovered.

Chilli salsa, chilli sauce and aioli at Antonio’s

While good food and a pleasant ambiance are important, there are many restaurateurs who pay scant attention to detail. We have grown accustomed to receiving cutlery wrapped up in two squares of two ply toilet paper, but I draw the line at having to handle a crumpled and grubby menu. This year I’ll be checking on the ladies loos in all the restaurants I visit. Given the continuing importance

of hand washing, both hot and cold taps in the wash hand basin must be working, and the paper hand towel dispenser should function correctly.

In 2022, restaurateurs must resolve to pay attention to important details that help to keep their patrons safe; similarly, diners, take responsibility for yourself when eating out; wear a mask on arrival, and show proof of vaccination against Covid.   A Matter of Taste with Charlotte Malakoff

Comment to: cmalakoff@gmail.com

 

 

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