Early-day dining in the capital has come on a long way from a cuppa and a fry-up down the caff. ‘Brunch’ – once viewed as suspiciously fancy – is now a social staple, and what’s not to love? It’s breakfast, but drinking isn’t frowned upon. Here’s our pick of where in town is worth skipping a lie-in for…
B&H BUILDINGS, CLERKENWELL
Framed by Spa Fields Park, a calm stretch of green in EC1’s buzzy creative hub, B&H Buildings is the cool, colonial outpost to sister-venue Bourne & Hollingsworth’s jumping Twenties gin joint. The focal point is a C-shaped bar that, come brunch time, doles out note-perfect Bloody Marys, enlivening Aperol spritzes and, generously, bottomless bellinis. Menu-wise, go simple with granola, indulgent with pancakes, traditional with eggs of all hollandaise-slathered varieties, or hearty with the excellent build-your-own full English (the home-made baked beans are a winner). For maximum effect, pick a sunny morning and sit in the fern-filled conservatory to soak up the old-time grandeur.
GRANGER & CO, NOTTING HILL
Hillbillies flock to chef Bill Granger’s Westbourne Grove restaurant for morning meet-ups over chilli-fried egg and bacon brioche rolls, broken egg and spinach ricotta or the signature full Aussie breakfast, washed down with a why-the-hell-not bottle of Billecart-Salmon champagne. A slice of laid-back Sydney sunshine transplanted to leafy West London.
BISTROTHEQUE, BETHNAL GREEN
An unremarkable industrial building off Cambridge Heath Road is home to this legendary brunch destination. Sundays are a particular draw, when hungover hipsters, local families and in-the-know tourists fuel up for a trip to the nearby Columbia Road flower market. Mad-haired in-house pianist Xavier Roide treats diners to loungeified pop hits on his white piano while faces are stuffed with pig’s cheek and Boston beans, pork chop with fried egg and Sriracha-drenched avocado on toast.
MORTIMER HOUSE KITCHEN, FITZROVIA
Brunch is a guilt-free affair at Mortimer House Kitchen in Fitzrovia – a wellbeing restaurant manned by Sardinian-born chef Antonia ‘Lello’ Favuzzi, previously of Italian institution L’Anima. If it’s morning-after nursing you need, look no further than the goji-laced porridge bowls, or skip straight to the virtuous egg-white omelettes. Superfood-of-the-moment açaí makes an appearance in smoothies, while avocado gets a whole sub-menu and on-trend tonics such as coconut water, almond milk and flax seeds, crop up in everything from energy shots to juices. The flavour is Mediterreanean, the kitchen is open and the atmosphere buzzy. Work your way through the menu and leave with your dignity restored.
RIDING HOUSE CAFÉ, FITZROVIA
On weekdays, it’s a de facto office and meeting room for the West End’s fashionable media types, but at the weekend, the Riding House is the ideal pre-shopping feasting spot – and boy do they know their way around a brunch menu: a perfect proper English, excellent eggs, moreish chorizo hash browns and a jaw-widening New York-style Reuben sandwich. And if you’ve ever wondered whether tequila is a breakfast drink, their ice-creamy Palomino Prancer will convince you that it most definitely, resoundingly is.
CARAVAN, KINGS CROSS
Whether you’re about to catch a train or you’re drawn by Granary Square’s current cool, industrial-chic, Caravan is the place for big breakfasting. The barbecue beans with eggs and chorizo wouldn’t be out of place at a cowboy’s campfire, the jalapeño corn bread will spice up your morning and the kimchi pancake with pork belly will see you through ’til dinner.