This week a friend and I visited Town House Cafe and Brew Bar for lunch.Advertisement
Situated on Friargate in the City Centre, it’s one of the businesses that are still gamely hanging on to survival despite being afflicted with a potentially terminal case of “Lancashire County Council Highway Improvements”.
Read more: The Preston City Centre road where local businesses need our support
It’s a cosy little place, with a few tables downstairs that are often occupied by customers making use of the free WiFi by working on laptops with a cup of coffee beside them. There is another, larger area upstairs featuring comfy chairs and squishy sofas, and both areas were busy without being hectic. The toilet is also up the steep stairs, so customers with restricted mobility might struggle.
Despite the menu being small and featuring mainly brunch items, vegans and those on gluten free diets are also catered for. Town House doesn’t sell alcohol, but there’s an interesting selection of coffees on offer.
My companion, a devout dodger of all vegetables and other foods that look, sound or smell like they might have interacted with them, went for a meaty bretzel (£8.50).
It was a pretzel bun, filled with bacon, sausage, fried egg, hash brown, cheese and chilli jam, though we requested the chilli jam on the side, because according to my guest it’s still classed as a vegetable.
All the filling was cooked perfectly, and the chef had managed to get all of it neatly inside the bun without any of the undignified, McDonald’s bacon and egg McMuffin-esque greasy flappage that can nudge up against an unwary diner’s hand unexpectedly when they pick it up to take a bite, making the whole experience feel sordid and grubby.
The rejected side garnish of rocket and cherry tomatoes with balsamic dressing was nice enough, as was the chilli jam. Both deserved to be on the bun with their friends, but it wasn’t my call.
I ordered the Towny breakfast: pork sausages and bacon, house-made bean salsa, wilted spinach, roasted vine tomatoes, hash brown, garlic and thyme mushrooms, toasted sourdough and eggs.
At £12 it wasn’t the cheapest breakfast in the City Centre, but it looked fabulous and the high quality of ingredients used and the time that went into its preparation was obvious.
Again, all the items were perfectly cooked, apart from the bean salsa that was lukewarm. It contained chunks of tomato and tasted of cumin and cardamom, which I don’t like. However, anyone who enjoys those spices would be happy with the mix.
The biggest surprise of our visit was that I made a brief truce with my mortal enemy – the mushroom.
These mushrooms weren’t simultaneously boingy and floppy like almost all the others that like to vandalise a perfectly good breakfast. The garlic and thyme went beautifully with the flavour of the mushrooms, and I managed to eat half of them before my teeth noticed and put a stop to it, but I ate enough to know that all fungi fans need to try Town House’s mushrooms.
The sausages were also of excellent quality, with so much lean meat that they almost crumbled when cut. Although the lack of fat made them a tad dry when compared to cheaper, fattier sausages, not having to worry about finding something mid-chew that looks like a tiny beige flip-flop inside it was a treat.
Not only had the chef managed to time the poached eggs perfectly, he also plated the wilted spinach in the millisecond between it morphing from a bunch of innocent salad leaves into a mangrove swamp, which is a feat in itself. It was a surprising addition to the plate and some would debate its right to a place on the Full English team, but I quite liked it. There was also a lone, terrified looking raw pea shoot on there too, which was well out of its depth.
We ordered the pistachio tiramisu french toast (£9) to share for dessert: coffee-infused brioche, whipped cream, house-made pistachio syrup and pistachio crumbs.
We couldn’t taste any coffee and it was incredibly sweet. The whipped cream appeared to be the squirty type which quickly melted into a small puddle, so there wasn’t much added flavour coming from there. Although it looked appetising and was nice and crispy it’s not something I’d order again, but for diners with a sweet tooth it could be ideal.
Town House Cafe and Brew Bar is a lovely, bustling little place, offering free WiFi and serving well-cooked, beautifully presented meals made from high quality ingredients. Its popularity and loyal customer base has so far seen it through the pedestrianisation fiasco, and will hopefully prevent our city from losing another independent eatery.
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Do you think that spinach belongs on a cooked breakfast, or do you believe that the world has gone wild and we’re at the End Of Days? Let the comments section be your Thunderdome.