Monday, June 30, 2014

Extra Perks Coffee Shop and Cafe Food Review

Full British Breakfast

Sometimes, the best places can be found "off the beaten trail," such as nearby A La Lucia. Ask almost anyone in Old Town Alexandria, and they'll say the same about Extra Perks Coffee Shop and Cafe a popular go-to eatery, tucked away on North Fairfax Street amidst a forest of trees (literally... you can't even see the full signage from six feet away!) Extra Perks expanded five years ago, and more than a few people claim their Full British Breakfast is one of the best around. With literally hundreds of British and Irish breakfasts under my belt, it was time to bring in an "expert." I'll be honest: I was excited to try it.

It's not easy to find, but the place was packed just after noon (on a weekday.) The World Cup was showing on a small TV set in the front of house; but I'm too nice a guy to remind everyone that England was already eliminated. Extra Perks is supposed to be British influenced, but outside of a small table with the British flag on it, and a few random England hats on the wall (mixed in with U.S. flags, oddly enough) it's like any other mom & pop's coffee house.

Extra Perks is supposed to seat 64, which seems like a tight fit; but I was able to snare a full table in the corner all to myself. This, after placing an order at the counter for a Full British Breakfast (minus mushrooms) for $9.75. The order taker was very friendly, and I took a seat in the aforementioned corner (I even had a view of the television!) The space looks old (like most of Old Town) but relatively clean. So far, I wasn't exactly impressed.

My order was called quickly (less than five minutes) which made me a little nervous. A Full British Breakfast comes with a banger (fresh made English pork sausage) two eggs (normally fried, but I opted for scrambled... force of habit, I suppose) apple wood smoked bacon (no rashers!) grilled tomatoes and toast. No potatoes either, but you can order English Baked Beans for an additional $.75 (reasonable, but I like Baked Beans by their lonesome.) As an added plus, it's served until 3:00 PM every day.

The big selling point is the banger, made fresh every day; but while it was indeed big & juicy, it was absolutely flavorless and (worst of all) not cooked in the middle. Yuck. My Dad sells Irish bangers, so perhaps I'm biased (they're delicious) but I'd be inclined to recommend Extra Perks' significantly cheaper American Breakfast and asking for a regular sausage patty, or better yet... their crispy, delicious bacon. You only get three strips, but it was enough to make me glad I was there. Eggs were eggs... nothing special, but perfectly acceptable. Toast was better than average, and came with a bowl loaded of butter, jams and jellies. Grilled tomatoes should be on everyone's radar; and the ones here, are as tasty as most.

Overall, it's hard to overlook undercooked sausage (normally I'd send it back, but this meal was strictly for review.) Take that away (or leave it in, your choice) and you're left with an expensive breakfast that's average at best (although the bacon is above average.) The surroundings are charming for some, I suppose; but I'm not as easily impressed. I love breakfast, so I could see myself coming back... but I'll be sure to go Americano, if I do.