Sarah Hayward heads up the kitchen of the Coach in Buckinghamshire, and operations are overseen by celebrity chef Tom Kerridge.
The new breakfast menu features all the classics, like a full English and eggs benedict. These are “crowd pleasers”, says Hayward, but new dishes including Shakshuka, beef hash, smoked salmon crumpet also made the cut.
Then, the Coach waffle has been swapped with a compact French toast with clotted cream. Hayward explains: “It ticks that box if someone wants a slightly sweeter breakfast.”
And what’s her favourite dish? It has to be the Shakshuka. It’s something they’ve never really done before at the Coach, and Hayward’s excited by the prospect of something new. The dish is kept simple but boasts “super tasty, big flavours”.
Hayward takes us through how to make it. First, the Shakshuka base is made by gently sweating off onions and celery before salt, smoked paprika and tomato puree are added. Then, you deglaze it with white wine, cook the white wine out, before throwing in chopped tomatoes and a bunch of fresh herbs.
Know your customers
This Shakshuka base actually gets better the longer you leave it, so it’s prepped a few days in advance. Then, the St. Ewe eggs (think “rich, bright, orange” yolks) are cooked in a skillet during service. After they’ve baked for around three minutes in the oven, they’re combined with the Shakshuka base, and plated up with chargrilled chorizo and a slice of sourdough.
Her advice to pubs wanting to boost their breakfast offering? “Know your customers and know what they want”. It’s all about giving something to the guest that no one else is offering – something a little different and unique. Chefs at the Coach also use local ingredients to stand out from the crowd.
For Hayward, it’s all about keeping things simple but doing them really well. Marketing also plays a big part. “You need to make sure the word’s out that that you’re offering breakfast, because pubs are more well known for lunch and dinner,” she advises. “Shout about it – make sure everyone knows”.
Serving breakfast is a good opportunity to extend your food offering, she says. And you don’t have to serve Michelin-starred food: at the Coach’s sister site, the Butcher’s Tap and Grill, the breakfast offering is simple but effective, with sausage and bacon sandwiches served up to morning diners.
You also have to weigh up whether the team can cope with adding an extra service to the day, she also advises. This can shorten the time between getting ready for lunch service and may affect staff hours. “You’ve got to make sure the team can cope with an additional service without affecting the standard,” she says.
'Super simple, super tasty'
And it goes without saying that the customers need to be happy. The gastropub’s clientele is a diverse bunch, from solo diners tucking into eggs and toast to families celebrating A Level results with glasses of champagne. But the Coach makes sure everyone leaves with smiles on their faces.
For guests on a health kick there are also plenty of options. Granola is one of them, as is yoghurt with fruit compote and honey, and there’s also avocado on grilled sourdough toast with poached eggs and a bit of olive oil.
The staff have also strived to tick an international box, with steak and eggs being a standard American breakfast dish, and Middle Eastern and Turkish flavours featuring in the Shakshuka.
But one particular dish has been outselling the others: the Coach breakfast muffin. “It’s a toasted English muffin, and you get caramelised onion sausage patty, a hash brown, and then you’ve got melted smoked cheese over the top, with a fried egg and gherkin ketchup,” Hayward describes. “It just sounds and looks really naughty, but it’s a winner.”
Overall, the breakfast menu stays true to what the Coach is known for, which is “super simple, super tasty” food. And it’s paying off. The reception from guests has been positive, says Hayward. She’s found that regulars are often opting to expand their horizons through trying new dishes rather than sticking with their usual choices.