Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Soda Fail - Breakfast belly buster still undefeated


John Toner

By John Toner

It's obvious to one and all that I have the body of an elite athlete.

Just yesterday I burned off 2,000 calories in 20 minutes - that's the last time I leave chocolate brownies in the oven and have an afternoon nap.

Seriously though, I really do love food. And when I say love, I'm 99.5% sure my soulmate is a slice of sourdough bread.

With this in mind - plus the fact that I bear an uncanny resemblance to legendary Man Vs Food presenter Adam Richman - I readily accepted the latest Sunday Life food challenge.

Carrying the pride of the free press on my shoulders, I marched into the Safari Bar and Grill on Newry Street in Banbridge.

The well-known outlet - formerly based in Co Antrim - is famous for its formidable food challenges including my belly-busting test - a mammoth 43-piece fry, priced at £19.95 but free if you eat it within 15 minutes.

Sunday Life, reporter John Toner took the giant soda and fry challenge at Safari Grill in Banbridge.

The Full Soda Challenge claims to be Northern Ireland's biggest stuffed soda and comes loaded with eight fried eggs, eight chunky sausages, eight thick cuts of bacon, eight fried slices of potato bread, fried mushrooms and onions.

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The soda itself seems the size of a large mattress and they have to be made to order 72 hours in advance at Rosie's Bakes whenever someone is brave or foolish enough to take on the task.

Sunday Life, reporter John Toner took the giant soda and fry challenge at Safari Grill in Banbridge.

With no previous challengers having tamed the beast, and not a man to be put off by size, I loosened my belt buckle and prepared for battle.

The 15-minute time limit on eating this monster meant I had to work quickly. I lifted the giant soda lid and got to work on the massed ranks of fried protein heaving underneath.

At first it was quite pleasant. I hadn't had breakfast that day and the juicy, thick-cut bacon and meaty sausages were delightful as I stuffed them into my mouth with reckless abandon, also slipping down an entire fried egg or two with ease.

My early confidence and bravado soon began to wilt (above) as the pounds of meat piled up in my stomach, swimming in egg yoke and a mounting pool of fat.


The plan had been to see off the protein first and then move on to the carbs but as I approached a third of the way through the tectonic plate of organic produce, my speed slowed significantly.

Cheered on by customers and manager Dave Mateer (47), I pressed on, throwing down sausage after sausage, in a desperate bid for glory but fully aware I was fighting an impossible battle with time and physics.

As time ticked towards the 15-minute mark, the effort required to swallow each mouthful became greater and each morsel caused a swell of nausea in my stomach. My mind was telling me yes, but my body, my body was telling me NO.

Bent over the colossal feed, now trembling with the meat sweats and battling the increased urge to vent the contents of my stomach, the alarm sounded for 15-minutes.

Sunday Life, reporter John Toner took the giant soda and fry challenge at Safari Grill in Banbridge.

Truth be told my effort was less than impressive. Five eggs, four-and-a-half rashers of bacon and five and a half sausages, accompanied with an undisclosed amount of fried onions and mushrooms, barely made a dent.

Having bitten off far more than I could chew in a feeble impression of my predecessor it was hardly an ideal food challenge debut but frighteningly I get the impression it won't be my last.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph