“When we have finished at the police-station I think that something nutritious at Simpson’s would not be out of place.”
Sherlock Holmes in ‘The Adventure of the Dying Detective’, Arthur Conan Doyle, 1913
Ah, Simpsons. Hunched grumpily on the Strand, next to the Savoy, it’s a restaurant that seems intent on forgetting anything as gauche and ghastly as the 20th century ever took place.
Breakfast in Simpsons is a special ritual. In the mornings it’s always four-fifths empty, with a library hush. Waiters glide around in tails, distributing unfeasible meat products, some of which are so old-fashioned they’ve taken a ride all the way round the zeitgeist merry-go-round and are cool again. At the back of the hall, there’s a flash of high Victorian whimsy: a dark painting depicts not some sclerotic peer or well-fattened dairy beast, but an illustration from the nursery rhyme ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’, showing the dainty dish of blackbird pie being set before the king.
These days, you can get a ‘continental breakfast’ of fresh fruit (which Mrs Brown partook of), but it’s really all about the Ten Deadly Sins, a breakfast dish so unhealthy it actually gives gout to anyone within a ten foot radius. This is the Full English breakfast taken to extremes – as well as the usual suspects of back bacon, sausage, eggs, beans and so on, the numbers are rounded out by black pudding and (unusually but tastily) devilled kidneys. I like to think previous patrons Dickens and Disraeli would have approved.
Simpsons do a mean kedgeree too – not so much the breakfast of champions, as the breakfast of post captains and rear-admirals. Let’s hope nothing comes along to disturb Simpson’s weighty slumber, and that it’ll continue to serve up anachronistic breakfasts long after the 21st Century’s been and gone.