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Josh Barrie's bacon and eggs: Chef's Delight, Wood Green

Delightful: Wood Green is home to fantastic omelettes (Christian Adams)
Delightful: Wood Green is home to fantastic omelettes (Christian Adams)

Breakfast in a traditional British café usually means a full English, but deviations are merited from time-to-time. Sometimes all that pork just won’t do and eggs and ample carbohydrates are the way to go. Which is why I sometimes order an omelette and chips.

I greatly admire omelettes: French, rolled and plump, a little runny in the centre and flecked green with finely chopped chives; Spanish, bolstered by potatoes and dramatic with onions; tamagoyaki, Japan’s refined, layered situation, where rolls are cut into portions to be dipped in sauces.

Those served in British cafes are a style unto themselves. They might not be the most chic, but there is great pleasure to be found in a deep, dense preparation of eggs, slapped with pockets of ham and rich and billowing with cheddar. Add to the mix white onions and a host of green and red peppers and you might have the makings of a western omelette, one of everyday America’s better attempts at cooking.

There’s something generous and comforting in an elementary omelette, whether folded over or cooked as one on a griddle. A good one must be effortless: the edges should be charred and coloured, even a little crisp, while the centre needs to hold the fillings buoyantly. The whole thing is perhaps well done,, at least when considering omelettes in the classic sense, but there should still be bounce and texture in the egg.

 (Josh Barrie)
(Josh Barrie)

I often think omelettes are easy to cook but hard to cook well. There’s a reason they’re among the list of dishes chefs are trialists to make when they first set foot in the kitchen. Good ones can be found at Chef’s Delight in Wood Green, just round the corner from Turnpike Lane station. Oh, and Paradise, a blink-and-you-miss-it fixture that happens to be home to some of the best curry in London. The owners once told me they used to supply wholesale to Fortnum & Mason. I don’t know if that’s true but the food tastes like it.

Chef’s Delight is one of those places with a long and aching menu. Have a fry up or an omelette. Concerning the latter, most are under £10 and cooked with precision: well seasoned and aptly textured, the eggs mixed hard to bring about a light spring. Your options? Cheese, egg, tomatoes, mushrooms. Peas get involved if you go “Spanish”. All come with chips: standard, flat-edged chunky ones, the sort you find at a pub on the outskirts of a medium-sized town with hanging baskets, lots of parking and a landlady with a small and annoying dog.

The décor in Chef’s Delight straddles that delicate line between depressing and quietly wonderful. It exudes the sentimentality of the movie Lost in Translation, with a whirling ceiling fan, foliage draping from Eighties light fittings, white tables and dark chairs and dark tiles on the floor. When it comes to the service, it is much less melodramatic, only ever friendly and calm and fitted with warmth. The food comes quickly even for a greasy spoon. It is always busy with regulars.

When I started this column, I wanted to make sure I found lesser-known cafes in unfashionable parts of town. Yes, Soho’s Bar Bruno appeared and famous stalwarts such as E Pellicci, River Café and Regency Café might well turn up at some stage, but it is these nondescript spots that really catch my eye: each one serves its community cheaply; each is a relaxing, honest place that embodies the simplest but most affecting hospitality. All are still family owned, family run, unifying in their practice.

Chef’s Delight means little in the grand scheme of things. To people nearby it is a mighty resource.

Chef's Delight, 13B High Road, N22 6BH, 020 8127 4854