Smokey Joe’s Café and Truck Stop
It’s a glorious blue-sky Saturday morning; spring is most definitely in both the air and my footsteps, and I am being treated to breakfast. Kedgeree at Claridges? Omelette Arnold Bennett at The Savoy Grill? No. The chances of my breakfast date and I devouring smoked haddock and gruyère béchamel this super-sunny morning is as likely as Victoria Beckham wrapping her collagened lips round a deep-friend Mars Bar: It’s never going to happen.
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A quick dirty sausage
Scorrier REDRUTH, Cornwall
This particular high-maintenance posterior is sliding itself onto a (slightly tacky – in a tactile sense) bench seat at the illustrious Smokey Joe’s Café and Truck Stop; and is hugely looking forward to breakfast.
Checking out the ‘he-to-she’ ratio, it’s pretty clear I am firmly in the minority. Even giving the benefit of the doubt to a couple of questionables at the far end, I think I count three fully fledged female diners (including me). The walls, a washed-out shade of Tinkywinky juxtapose the retro-cool pine tables and chairs. Smokey’s has been here for 30yrs. The décor may seem very now, but try-hard its not. This interior is pre-loved vintage, circa 1982. Bubbling away (seemingly on top of the till) is a large jar of black coffee. Behind a glass fronted display counter, home to at least half a dozen gateaux-style creations, two busy but friendly waitresses are scribbling orders and taking collection of the enormous plates of bacon and eggs being passed through the open hatch from the kitchen.
There is a bit of a buzz in the air (and something has tickled the crowd of three high-visibility-jacket sporting gents on the table at 2-o’clock to me.) Much jollity and a bit of winking, I think. I whip-out my Orla Kiely notebook and ask to borrow a biro from one of the waitresses: this may have been an error. A slightly chewed Bic was passed (somewhat reluctantly) across the counter. I guess not a lot of customers arrive before 9am and start taking notes from the plastic laminated menu. Perhaps they thought I was planning a duplication of this iconic Café? I kept my head down.
Points I noted: Posters on the wall included ‘Truckfest 2011’ and notably three flyers flagging up local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Another read: “Dogs welcome, children must be on a lead” and very nearly prompted my retrieval of Otis the cocker spaniel from the back of the car, but thought best not to test the authority of the notice on this occasion. Leaflets promoting Smokey Joes Steak Night (bragging a 32oz T-Bone) sat happily on the counter. Pinned up behind our table was a SJ logoed T-Shirt and Cap ensemble, which for the reasonable sum of £12.50 could be yours to take-away (and all profits donated to a local children’s charity).
My breakfast date ordered a “Hungrymans” which at £6.20 promised pretty much two of everything, sausages, eggs, fried slices and hogs pudding-fritters (tomatoes or beans, not both) and a mug of tea (90p). I opted for scrambled eggs on toast ( noting my request for brown bread was met with a raised eyebrow) and a sausage. I do have a high-regard for the occasional dirty sausage. A mug of the great stuff came in at £1.30. Firmly a black coffee girl but were my caffeine cup of choice in the whippy shape of a double-decaf Frappuccino, I would have kept schtum. Starbucks Smokey’s most certainly isn’t, but it’s perfectly great for that and the coffee was really rather good. Waiting for the fodder to arrive (service isn’t super-quick but the place is bustling and we are in no hurry) I study the menu. For £6.40 you can enjoy both overnight parking and a meal; throw in a mug of tea and a shower and its all yours for £12. Parking and a shower without the SJ fine-dining will only set you back £8, but why on earth would you not eat here? Nipping to the loo (for recce purposes really) I can confirm all good. Think NHS or primary school but clean and white and airy. Notably a lack of shower in the ladies, not that I was planning on having one.
Breakfast was waiting on return. Whilst Nathan Outlaw need not lie awake at night concerned for the safety of either of his two Michelin stars; Smokey Joe’s breakfast hit the spot, delivering exactly what it promised. This is not the establishment for free-range, low carb or organic. Its good, honest, truck-stop greasy spoon food: breckker at its very best and the perfect start to my sunny Saturday. I should note my scrambled eggs did arrive with not one but two sausages; perhaps the Orla Kiely notebook afforded me favourable treatment?