Brunching seems to inadvertently become my new weekend
I lived in Australia back in 2009 and loved how well avocados were put to use, avo & poached eggs on sourdough was a firm favourite, or simply just avo as a spread in sandwiches. I came back to London and never forget asking for avocado in my sandwich and was greeted with “guacamole?”, er, no…….. With the rise of popularity in brunching (or maybe I have stopped being so hungover and sleeping through my weekends), my favourite is now readily available in all hipster and non-hipster joints.
I seem to have gone on a craze and been trying out all the new hotspots. I didn’t visit these places with the purpose of writing a blog post, but as I’ve done all the calorie intakes it only seems fair to share. So here are my top five London brunch places:
BALTHAZAR, COVENT GARDEN
Definitely tops my list thus far! It’s not often I visit Covent Garden on the weekend, it’s so busy but an early morning shopping trip and a solo brunch stop at Balthazar may encourage me to do it again. Brunch starts at 10am on both Saturday and Sunday. I arrived at 10.30am and this beautiful looking French bistro was already full. However, dining by myself meant I got seated straight away at the bar and at a spot which I considered to be the best seat in the house. At the end of the bar, overlooking the grandeur mirrored liquor cabinet, next to a column where I could place by shopping bags and wasn’t squashed in amongst other people. It also meant I was right next to the service area but the staff were friendly and chatty and felt very at ease. Anyway – the food….. I’ve had avo and poached eggs at all five places and this was by far the best. The young waiter behind the bar immediately swapped my normal knife for a sharper one to cut through the sourdough – immediately sold, it’s the little things! Tomato salsa on the side and a squeeze of lime topped it off. Balthazar has a signature Bloody Mary amongst other brunch cocktails, 10.30am was a little too early for me so stuck with a good ole’ pot of English Breakfast. They also make their own teabags which is brewed to perfection. Oh and if their brunch options aren’t filling enough make sure you pop next door and visit Fernando for THE most delicious cakes (or takeaway for an afternoon treat at home).
CARAVAN, KINGS CROSS
You can’t make bookings at Caravan for brunch, and it is hugely popular but if you have time to wait (sometimes up to an hour or more) you can take a seat at the bar and indulge in a mid afternoon cocktail or coffee. The decor is industrial, the bathrooms are kitted out with Aesop products and the menu takes a modern twist on breakfast and lunch items. I highly recommend the jalepono corn bread, or, of course the avo and poached eggs. There are lighter items on the menu such as fruit and granola or baked goods if you don’t want a full cooked meal. It’s also very kid friendly you just need to have the patience to wait to be seated. In the summer there are more options with an outside seated area. If you don’t have the time to while away, there are other options in The Granary complex but be sure to come back.
GRAIN STORE, KINGS CROSS
Next door to Caravan was originally our substitute when we couldn’t get into Caravan straight away and were hungry like a wolf. Saying it was as a substitute doesn’t do it justice though and is well worth a visit in it’s own right. The Grain Store has a similar menu to Caravan (and everywhere else that does a good brunch) but it leans towards a more vegetable based menu, and does some super fruit smoothies and juices.
An antipodean cafe with three London locations in Shoreditch, Fitzrovia and Camden. The cafe in Fitzrovia was heaving for a Sunday midday brunch but after a short wait we were seated in what I imagine is the overflow area downstairs. With one large table that fits eight comfortably and a bench to the side, despite it’s proximity to the kitchen it was a good spot and not as hectic and loud as the upstairs dining. Unlike Balthazar I had just a normal knife to tackle the sourdough with which was quite challenging and became quite messy but overall the atmosphere, food, tea and service was good.
EGG BREAK, NOTTING HILL
Soho House first opened the themed egg cafe as a pop up in a local Notting Hill Thai restaurant. After a six month success and then a six month break they have recently opened up as a permanent restaurant, now a collaboration with The Hoxton group. I managed a visit for brunch in it’s first incarnation – avo & poached eggs (obviously…) served on vintage patterned plates. The restaurant was as popular as most of the current hot spots but as it’s located behind the main streets of Notting Hill it has less drop ins. For the second visit we chose a dinner seating during the soft opening of the restaurant. Baked eggs with tomato, kale, goats cheese and a splash of sriracha hot sauce gave it that slight edge. The wines are known as “new wine”, “old wine”, but the staff can help you match your wine with your food choice. For dinner the menu doesn’t seem to be as egg themed as brunch so if you’re not a fan there are other options like a bacon cheeseburger or fried chicken sandwich. It’s a gorgeous little place and looking forward to many more visits.
BEST OF THE REST:
If you’re looking for something a little different Dishoom offers their take on an Indian brunch – bacon naan rolls! (and the bacon is sourced from The Ginger Pig).
The Breakfast Club cafes have cool decor, SMEG fridges, serve tea in a good old fashioned mugs but if you fancy something a bit stronger, visit the branch by Spitalfields and be sure to ask to see The Mayor.