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Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Little Chef, Popham, A303

Does anyone remember The Happy Eater? There used to be one on the way to Gloucester from London – I don’t know exactly where, because I was about eight the last time I went. We used to visit on the way to see my granny. Essentially, it was a means of stopping sibling fighting using pancakes and maple syrup. The theory, I assume, was that we wouldn’t be too fractious on arrival if we had a small sugar hangover. I can’t remember if it worked, and I imagine the food was pretty foul, but I loved those stops nonetheless.

In the late eighties, anywhere that wasn’t home felt like a destination restaurant, at least to the young Master Letts. Roadside eateries were even better. The Harvester was a bit of a treat; McDonalds, an impossible dream. For some reason, we didn’t go to The Little Chef. I felt sore about it at the time, I think. Something about that smart red frontage and the real-chef shape made it look almost classy. Better than Wimpy, at any rate.

The Little Chef at Popham evokes an odd nostalgia – for childhood experiences I don’t think I had. But what with Heston Blumenthal’s well-publicised battles to turn the ailing chain around, and given that it’s conveniently located en route to Devon, it made sense to pop in to Popham for breakfast.

Why is it called the Olympic breakfast, I wonder? I suppose I could research it and find out, but I prefer to think that it has something to do with Daley Thompson.

In any event, three of us ordered it. Cute Letts went for a cheesy omelette. Four very un-eighties coffees and a genuinely freshly-squeezed orange juice completed the tab.  The cheesy omelette was phenomenally cheesy, extremely tasty and perfectly cooked. £6.35 prices it above your local greasy spoon, but it seemed like good value.

The rather fancy menu describes the Olympic breakfast thus: Two Little Chef outdoor bred British pork sausages, two rashers of Wiltshire cured outdoor reared back bacon, two griddled free-range eggs, a slice of Ramsay of Carluke black pudding and a roasted field mushroom with either Heinz baked beans or a chargrilled tomato. Served with a slice of toasted bloomer bread and butter.


Sounds great, don’t it? Well frankly, it was. The mushroom was brilliant (cooked in thyme infused oil, no less). The black pudding was brilliant. The sausages were small, but porky and brilliant. The eggs were brilliant. The bacon was ok. The tomato was also ok. For £7.25, this was just the right combination of fancy-pants pretentious fry-up and actual, proper breakfast.

The Little Chef in Popham has confirmed that everything I thought I was missing as a child, I was, in fact, missing. There is blue sky painted on the ceiling, for goodness’ sake! There are stupid little fake robins that look over you as you eat! The bathroom talks to you! That’s too many exclamation marks!

I doubt I’ll go to another one, as I suspect they’re not all like this, nor ever shall be. I’ll stick to the memories, I think.


  1. I went to the Popham LC a few months ago too, was definitely better than the standard LCs which sadly, just don't cut it!

  2. I thought as much. Cheers Kavey.

  3. I went there last Valentine's and thoroughly enjoyed it too...

  4. Gosh, how very romantic of you. I'm not sure I could get away with Valentine's day at a Little Chef. What's the secret?

  5. fraid things have changed there now , not much to distinguish it from any old dull Little Chef breakfast was cold and sub standard.;;