The Sainsbury’s Big Breakfast


While everyone else prepares for exams, I know my priorities and over the next week will be working my way down Portswood road in an attempt to answer the ultimate question; where is the best place to get breakfast on the way to Highfield or Avenue.

Sainsbury's in Portswood

Having managed to avoid visiting Sainsbury’s for breakfast since it opened, and usually having a love of supermarket café breakfasts, I decided that the new Sainsbury’s would be a perfect starting point.

The Queue

So, first stop was the queue. Despite being one of only two people waiting when I arrived, the system of one person taking orders and preparing drinks has to be the least efficient ever. It took nearly four minutes to serve the person in front of me, who bought a single coffee.

That said, actually being served, for me, having a cup of tea, was incredibly smooth and painless, and it took less than a minute to give my order, have my drink prepared and pay.

Total Queue Waiting Time: 3m 48s

The Atmosphere

Supermarkets will never compare to actual cafés or restaurants, but the music was an improvement on most supermarkets (the oldest song played was from September last year), and the were no recordings of the supermarket pretending to run a radio station as Asda subject you to. The frequent PA announcements were a pain, but didn’t break the atmosphere too much.

The hustle and bustle of the rest of the supermarket had an almost soothing quality. It was a little way down, not very noisy and generally not a problem. The corrugated metal roof and bare pipes don’t do the cafe feeling any favours, especially when a lot of supermarkets avoid them completely in the café area.


This is one of my big gripes. While most supermarket cafés operate canteen style and prepare the food in advance, then serve it in front of you, Sainsbury’s feel the need to prepare it behind closed doors while you sit at your table attempting to stop your drink going cold.

I waited 14m 21s for the food to arrive. I can’t see any justification for this. It wasn’t busy (10 of 50 tables were occupied, most people already eating), other supermarkets working on a similar system usually keep you waiting around the five minute mark at most, often a lot less.

The most frustrating part was the lack of any acknowledgement that I had waited longer than is expected.

The Price

Another far from perfect point. I went for the “new, improved big breakfast” consisted of 9 items. At a cost of £4.29, this works out at almost 48p per item. Compared to the Asda equivalent, which has around 14 items, for just 60p more, making the items less than 35p each.

Total cost for breakfast and cup of tea: £5.18

The Food

The Sainsbury's Big Breakfast

At last, the redeeming feature! The items themselves were very well cooked and generally delicious. Sausages were chewier than I typically enjoy, but a lot of people like them that way. Everything was hot, and seemed recently prepared, which made a change, even if it meant a frustrating wait to get stuck in.

Perhaps worryingly, the best point by far was the toast, which was made of thick sliced and very crusty bread. It was definitely the best toast I have had with a cooked breakfast, probably in my life!

The only part I’m not particularly happy with is that a ‘big breakfast’ is only 9 items, so I left not feeling anywhere near full.

The Location

Sainsbury’s is probably the closest place to Highfield (apart from those places that are actually on campus) that serves a proper breakfast. It’s a 14 minute walk at normal walking speed, but you could probably manage it in 10 if you were to try your best (possibly not the best idea if you’ve just eaten the big breakfast). It’s also an 18 minute walk from Avenue.


So, in conclusion;

  • The queue was slow moving, but this would be easy to fix
  • The atmosphere was good, but not quite as good as a lot of supermarket cafés
  • I waited nearly 15 minutes for my food, it wasn’t busy and I don’t think that can be justified in a supermarket café
  • Items cost nearly 50p each, way above what most people charge for them, the big breakfast and a cup of tea was £5.18
  • The food was very well cooked, the toast was amazing
  • Their biggest breakfast wasn’t big enough for me
  • It’s close enough to Highfield and Avenue to eat before a lecture.

My rating: 5/10. It’s not bad as supermarket cafés go, but that’s not without some significant problems.

If you’re in no rush and don’t mind paying more, go for it, you’ll enjoy most of the atmosphere and especially the toast, but it’s certainly not somewhere to stop off on the way to lectures with a typical student breakfast budget.


Discussion4 Comments

  1. avatar

    I had breakfast at Sainsbury’s on the day it opened, so my experience probably wasn’t fair as the place was packed out to capacity, but yeah I agree with most of the points – it took a long time to be served, but overall the food wasn’t bad! I used to work in a supermarket café, and it had a much better atmosphere – Sainsbury’s feels like a big ol’ warehouse.


    Support the local small businesses and try Kate’s Cafe in Portswood, lovely breakfast in there. Wifi in there too…
    Menu has too much delicious choice to list here (and I cant remember what was on it) but it was about a fiver for a great full english breakfast using high quality local award winning sausages and local smoked bacon, free range eggs, and with lovely hash browns etc. I think tea was extra, around £1.25

    Mmmm….. must go back for one of Kate’s breakfasts, I am drooling just thinking about it!

    André Pusey

    I have eaten at Kate’s before, and yes it is lovely, and I definitely prefer going to there (or Poppin’s, my personal favourite) over Sainsbury’s for breakfast.

  2. avatar

    I work in a Sainsburys Cafe and some of your points are spot on. There should’ve been two or even three people serving behind till. Our Cafe in Kent are only giving 50 hours per day to dish out to employees, which means sometimes there’s one person behind cook, rushing around like a mad man, one person on till, also stressed out to the max and one person cleaning tables, washing up AND taking out food. It’s pretty bad. If the cook has a lot of orders, or needs to cook things from scratch, they should let the till person know there’s going to be a 15 minute wait on food or something. The big breakfast doesn’t fill me up either, Sainsburys as a company does not take advice about menu changes/ideas from employees. We’ve suggested so much and nothing gets done.

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