What makes the perfect fried egg? I often see conversations on social media considering the question. Some people favour crisp bottoms and frilly edges – with a quick, high heat, the circumference of the egg curls up and the flavour becomes intense.
Others delight in a softer experience, where the white has been cooked through but remains pearly, no char, the yolk bouncing around atop a smooth surface. Texturally, these lend themselves to streaks of bacon, fat rendered, and the imitable crunch of hash browns.
Crispy fried eggs are more likely to be achieved when cooked in oil, efficiently flash fried and white bubbling; soft ones are usually produced in butter, a lot of it at that, hot fat skating over the surface of the egg to avoid any glutinous uncooked slime.
I like crispy fried eggs and I like soft fried eggs. Those that have been basted, given care and attention are best. Real cooking. But so long as the white is cooked through and the yolk is runny, I think both versions have their place.
I’m also not really averse to a flipped fried egg, those delivered – for ease – inside metal discs on a hot griddle if that’s the method used. These are usually found at the greasiest of spoons where volume is important and time limited.
At Café Forum in Archway, I found fried eggs of impeccable balance. Their brilliance was achieved by way of a maximised surface area, where the egg is allowed great distance to travel. Despite their roaming, like a winning football team, their shape remained true; like one triumphing every game, good form.
The yolks, meanwhile, were a deep, rich orange, probably the product of happy hens. And the white of the egg was tender, to be sliced and folded around other elements of my breakfast, whether pork or potato.
Despite their roaming, like a winning football team, the shape of these eggs remained true
This breakfast was a simple preparation: two rashers of bacon, streaky in this case; two sausages; two fried eggs; and four hash browns, 50 per cent of which came in lieu of baked beans. The whole thing was topped with wispy green leaves. Greenery is always unnecessary with a full English. The toast? Sliced white bread.
Café Forum felt Continental. A bit like somewhere in Berlin, or somewhere in mid-Europe, with influences from North Africa, even Turkey perhaps, and modicums of French nonchalance. Quite a classical style: plants hanging from the ceiling, bright Premier Inn-style seating, an eclectic menu and various plates and jugs on display. The service was solid and my iced coffee well-made.
All in all, a café that might be considered so-so. Nothing much to note, really. Just one of those mostly unchartered London outposts where burgers, bowls of pasta and logs of halloumi alongside overly dressed salads may be found. Then again, it is also a place serving near-perfect fried eggs. And for that it commands acclaim.
673-675 Holloway Road, N19 5SE, cafeforum.co.uk