I TAKE breakfast seriously – the best meal of the day and all that.

And I fully subscribe to the old saying that breakfasting like a king and dining like a pauper is good for you – albeit somewhat impractical at times.

Indeed some research released earlier this year suggested having the main meal in the evening might be linked to higher levels of obesity, but perhaps that should be taken with a pinch of salt given it was part-funded by Nestle – the makers of breakfast cereals.

That aside, a good breakfast is fashionable these days to the extent that one of the posh papers devoted a full page recently to the scandal of the over-priced full English. Apparently, the cost in many of the country’s finest establishments has soared to an average of more than £25, in London’s Dorchester Hotel it will set you back an eye-watering 34 smackers.

And it’s not just southerners who are being ripped off. The Feversham Arms at Helmsley allegedly offers a breakfast of duck eggs, caviar and smoked salmon from Norway and a glass of champagne for £120. That’s for two by the way.

We say allegedly because there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that this breakfast truly fit for a king is still served at the Feversham. It is not actively promoted on the hotel’s website; doubtless if you turned up and said you wanted to pay £60 for breakfast they would oblige.

We considered giving it try but as the D&S accountant is still in therapy after the shock of our £200-plus summer expedition to the Michelin-starred Black Swan at Oldstead, we had second thoughts. But what is really shocking about all this is despite these budget-busting brekkies, the cost of the raw materials for the traditional English breakfast has gone down in recent times.

How do we know this? There is – absolutely no kidding – such a thing as the Financial Times Breakfast Index which tracks the wholesale price of milk, wheat, coffee, orange juice, sugar and pig meat. It has fallen by a third since 2010.

So where to find a good quality, good value breakfast in our neck of the woods?

In our experience, it has to be a farm shop. In recent years we have enjoyed cracking examples at Mainsgill on the A66, at Spring House Farm, on the A684 near Scruton, and at Dropswell Farm Shop up at Trimdon. Hotel breakfasts have generally been eclipsed by such fare.

Some years ago, we had enjoyed an excellent lunch at Roots Farm Shop, at East Rounton, just off the A19 in North Yorkshire. Would the Roots breakfast be of a similar high standard?

As farm shops go, Roots is generally a cut above. Starting with the buildings it is housed in. Most farm buildings are functional and aesthetically without merit. Roots is housed in what was a model farm built in the Arts and Craft style by the architect Philip Webb for the Lowthian Bell family in the 19th century. It’s beautiful and it’s still a working farm.

The shop and cafe inside these handsomely proportioned structures is well appointed and is really rather a slick retail operation. From contactless card payments to loyalty scheme, it’s very smart and professional.

We arrived shortly after opening on Sunday morning. It was already very busy and we took what was the last table.

The breakfast offer is pretty sophisticated. There’s eggs Benedict, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, two vegetarian breakfasts, waffles and maple syrup, and a traditional breakfast of egg, bacon, sausage, tomato and toast and butter for just £5.50.

But we needed the full-fat, full-bore version – the kind you really savour after a long night out – the full English for £7.50. The extra two pounds added black pudding, mushrooms, baked beans and an extra slice of bacon to the traditional breakfast.

And what a glorious plateful. We ate at 11am and didn’t eat another morsel all day.

The fried egg was golden yolked and the white firm set, the dry-cure thickish bacon and Katherine wheel Cumberland-style sausage made from pork sourced from a neighbouring farm, the mushrooms properly cooked, that is, sautéed, and the beans just fine. The black pudding was Doreen’s fabled triangular slabs which I may well have bored you about before.

Prize-winning black pudding in France (where they take such things very seriously of course) but produced by Duncan Haigh and his team on an industrial estate near Thirsk, it is simply the best. I just love the little pearls of pork fat running through it which makes it the juiciest, most moist black pudding you’ll ever eat. Just peerless.

Service was great, the tea and coffee hot and strong. The bill was £19 for the two of us. The great British breakfast lives on in all its glory.


Roots Farm Shop, Home Farm, East Rounton, near Northallerton DL6 2LE
Tel: 01609 882480
Web: rootsfarmshop.co.uk
Open: 9am-4pm Tuesday – Saturday; 10am-4pm Sunday (breakfasts served until 3pm). Closed Monday.
Disabled access. Vegetarian options.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9, Service 8, Surroundings 8, Value 10