It’s shortly before 10am on a Saturday morning and all is quiet on medieval Spon Street. The sun is shining and the sky is blue as the city wakes up for another weekend of business.
It’s breakfast time for some, coffee time for others as people make their way into the city centre which is just a few hundred metres away. The GD (Green Dragon) is our destination. The historic 15th century building has seen plenty through the centuries, but few years could rival the last 12 months of its existence in various guises.
Bought by a local businessman and painstakingly renovated to return it to the people of Coventry, it was perfectly placed to deliver meals and beverages to its people. A refreshing, unique alternative to the squabble of chain restaurants located a stone’s throw away.
With the grand opening in sight back in March, along came something nobody could prepare for. A global pandemic forced most restaurants to close – some never reopened their doors. But epitomising the spirit of the city, the GD ploughed on. Whether it was as a bottle shop, bakery, pizza deliveries or quirky desserts, they’ve done their level best to navigate choppy waters.
Through its Instagram social media platform they’ve created a following in excess of 3,000 people with their eye-catching food, drink and decor. It was here I spotted that breakfast had been added to their menu and it was time to see what The GD had to offer for myself.
First impressions are intriguing. The character of the centuries-old building has been retained but it’s not dark and dreary. Splashes of colour in the seating, flooring and walls bring it to life as light pours through large road-facing windows.
With track and trace procedures complete, we took a seat by one of the floor-to-ceiling windows, with mine being a comfy cinema-style row of chairs. A relaxed atmosphere is created through low volume music being played, a collection of covers of well-known hits through the years. We were one of only three couples who visited during our blissful hour spent at the venue.
The coffee was morerish. I opted for a smooth but punchy flat white. My dining partner’s caramel latte was also a well-balanced combination. It seems crazy to place so much focus on it but given the stiff competition for coffee purveyors these days, it’s something you’ve simply got to get right.
Our food order consisted of a traditional breakfast for me and eggs royale for my dining partner. The breakfast menu (which is only available online due to Covid-19 restrictions) also includes oatcakes, croissants, eggs Benedict and a granola yoghurt bowl.
After around 15 minutes our food was brought out and I surveyed my plate. It was traditional in the sense of the components; sausage, bacon, black pudding, egg, tomato, baked beans and potato cake. However, it was a little more sophisticated and refined than your standard ‘full English’.
The bacon was beautifully crisp and salty, providing a great contrast to the plump, juicy and only lightly-cooked tomato. The eggs were over easy, which might not be preferable to some but in the context of this dish, worked perfectly. The further savoury elements of a decent-sized slice of black pudding and two juicy, flavoursome sausages.
The potato cakes make for a lighter carbohydrate element than toast, adding to the overall feeling of this not being a weighty, greasy dish which many English breakfasts can become, but a celebration of what is good about this meal and refining it. I didn’t feel bloated or sluggish after eating it, nor was I craving more. The only minor criticism I spotted later when looking at the images I’d taken of the food, the mushrooms did not make an appearance. I’m sure it was something that would’ve been swiftly resolved if I’d realised at the time.
My dining partner’s eggs royale featured beautifully fresh, light salmon that was topped with perfectly poached eggs and lashings of a thick, indulgent Hollandaise sauce. Similarly to my breakfast, it was nothing groundbreaking in terms of concept but the execution was of the kind you simply do not get at chain restaurants. It looked and smelt great, and tasted even better.
The surroundings really set this place apart. There’s nowhere like it in Coventry. There’s little nods to the city’s history with two-tone tiling on the floors and on the walls of the gentlemen’s toilets, while the upstairs floor is beautifully raw and respected. You can feel the history around you.
The overall experience with the food, coffee, surroundings, atmosphere and service combined to create an excellent and special way to start our day. All without breaking the bank too, our breakfasts, toast for the little one and four drinks came to a shade over £20. You will find cheaper in the city centre, but not at the quality in terms of both produce and overall experience.
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