A full-English-based twitterstorm (a Category Two, at most) has gathered force in recent days, since Giles Coren experienced despair at the hands of an Oxford landmark. The paltry portion apparently made him feel first short-changed, and eventually "ashamed... of [his] country" - so Daily Info had to find out once and for all whether charges of inedibility were in any way founded.
Ok. So for a few pence more than Coren's omnidisappointment we got a fuller plate of cooked breakfast (look at the beans!), eggs Benedict, unlimited toast (plus a jam-packed jam holder of Bonne Maman preserves), and as much tea as we desired. Let's consider those things - Coren could've had them but seems to be a Heinz acolyte, and perhaps wasn't in a toast-friendly headspace. £22.61 for our supersufficient spread, compared to £21.50 for a journalist's grief.
However... in terms of my cooked breakfast plate itself, it was no better than, say, a Tick Tock special from Cowley Road's reliable fry-up artists. A mass-produced feel shows that the Randolph may be catering more for a zillion hotel guests rather than inviting morning visitors. What did set it apart was a herbilicious Cumberland sausage, meaty and grease-free where the average greasy spoon may leave you feeling a bit more... regretful. The eggs were great according to my housemate, who is only too aware that hollandaise sauce is easier to get wrong than you think. And starting the day with salmon is always recommended.
Service was reassuringly good: we were met by wonderfully polite reception, and an attentive waiter who resorted to maxi-helpful looming as the room was empty apart from us. We did enjoy having a quiet space - a humongous group from the Saïd Business School was being fed in the main Acanthus restaurant, so they asked if we'd be happy in the drawing room instead. Thus for most of the mealtime it was just us, a portrait of the Queen, as many copies of i as we could wish for, and vague thoughts of Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands.
But, the takeaway points: value-wise, it seems from our respective experiences that the admittedly mysterious 'hamper' fee we paid will get you much more than Coren availed himself of; as such, a pair will get a lot more than a lone breakfaster; and the experience of being in the Randolph has more to do with its mid-20th century North Oxford luxury and a certain kind of tweedy treat, than getting the maximum banger for your buck.