It’s been a while since we’ve featured a business or person we respect and admire… shamefully too long. We believe in the power of the pioneering spirit of creative folks. We applaud anyone who can take a talent, skill, or product, make it marketable, and try to make a living from it — heck, we are those people! As such we strive to support and promote go-getters who are making their dreams a reality, bolster the small business community, contribute to their local economies, and contribute to the happiness of others — especially in Austin, but we recognize stand-out people everywhere.
I’d like to turn the spotlight on Full English, great folks making modern British food in South Austin, TX. They started with a stall at the local farmer’s market, testing and perfecting their recipes, and have very, very recently expanded into a permanent location of their own. The café is a happy mixture of restaurant and coffee shop, with tables and chairs to one side, and what I like to call “The Cozy Zone” on the other, loaded with mismatched second-hand (but in great shape) sofas and plush chairs. In fact, everything has that casually mismatched vibe… the tables and chairs, plates and mugs, you name it. The thing is… it works, and it definitely gives off the quintessential South Austin aesthetic without being contrived.
Full English is owned and operated by a trans-Atlantic couple; she being the English influence, he being the American. That sounds very familiar to us, as that’s how Curious Confections is arranged too! *grins* Together they’re creating a brilliant environment where familiar flavors and dishes can be enjoyed by English ex-pats looking for a taste of home, by the adventurous migratory Americans who fell in love with those flavors, and by newcomers who have never had the real English deal.
There are few dishes and flavors in this world that, upon first taste, grabbed hold of my brain and got hooks in so deep that I simply must have them — sushi and phở to name a few — and the full English breakfast is one of them. Not only part of the business’ clever namesake, but also one of their crowning offers. Sadly, I lived in 2+ years of misery without it until just recently.
And just to be clear, English food is not all boiled… in fact, I’ve enthusiastically compared English cooking to Southern cooking (being a New Orleans boy, I’m quite familiar with that). It’s flavorful, somewhat decadent at times, and occasionally makes you say “I don’t know what that is, but damn if it doesn’t look good.”
At first blush, some of the menu items might seem a little on the pricey side, specifically anything concerning the banger sausages or back bacon. As someone who fell instantly in love with bangers the moment I set foot on English soil, I can tell you this one fact: they cannot be had easily in the States. You either luck out and find a restaurant that serves a close approximation, mail-order something that may-or-may-not be close to what you like, have your Aunty in the U.K. ship some to you at extortionist prices… or you make your own. This was the route that Full English chose, making their bangers from 97% locally-reared happy healthy pork, and their English-style back bacon (a wet-cured and smoked bacon that is cut from the loin rather than the belly, and is tremendously leaner and less salty) is ordered from William’s Pork in North Carolina (who have been making cured meats and sausages in the finest English tradition since 1999). Yes, it costs more. Yes, the results are absolutely worth it.
These are some folks I have a very great interest in ensuring they stick around for a long time: they serve great food, they have a fantastic attitude, and they’re building a business from the ground up. I may also be a wee bit biased toward an English/American couple operating an unconventional foodcentric business. *grins*
I’ll close with a quote from Full English’s own page, describing themselves in their words. I suggest you hop over to their site and have a look around… they blog about the business, recipes, and just whatever on a regular basis. If you’re interested, you can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
First, we took our favourite traditional recipes, collected from three decades of obsessive home baking back in England, Britain. Then, we updated them, with the best ingredients, locally-sourced products, all-natural seasonings, and adjustments according to our own experienced tastes. Finally, we tested them on you. Sometimes there were smiles, sometimes there was ambivalence and sometimes nails were hit on heads. And that’s what we were looking for: the best of the best, the treats that you would love as much as we loved them ourselves.
We have no particular interest in becoming more “authentic”. We’re authentic as a British food company, and we love our food. [...] We’re doing something different than many British restaurants in the USA; we’re following our own individual tastebuds. Tradition is something we respect, and belong to – our chef is genuine 100% English and our family is a British/American mashup. But we also want to build on tradition, not rest on its laurel wreathes. So we’re not a copy of anything similar from Britain: we’re a celebration of various bits and pieces of passions and delights from all over the UK. We find the things we love, with Britishness as the unifying theme, and we share them. And we’re doing all this in Austin, Texas. Which makes it new and different, and a bit of an adventure.