A great brunch for me is almost unbeatable, a ritual of being able to get up in your own time, have a leisurely cup of coffee, great food and a catch up with your nearest and dearest that I look forward to each weekend! It’s not always easy to find a brunch that isn’t simply your bog standard fry up, which being a near vegetarian anyway holds little appeal to me, so after years of brunch research in London I have found 5 real gems when it comes to my favourite meal time of the week that make it worth getting up for and that will cure any hangover.
For the sweet toothed:
Just a stone throw away from London Bridge station and located in an old grain storage space under a railway bridge amidst the bustling Maltby Street market, Bea’s specializes in the sweeter things to start your day with. Fancy dining this is not, the menu is short, it's only available until they sell out of ingredients and the coffee is bottomless filter rather than fancy Lattes but what they do do at Bea's they do pretty darn well. Be it their blueberry pancakes with grilled strawberries, whipped cream and as much maple syrup as you reckon your heart can take, and in my case that means a lot, the French toast with caramelized bananas and walnuts or for the people that can't quite be without a little bit of heartiness, a half n' half special comprised of a muffin with poached egg and hollandaise AND buttermilk pancakes, everything served in their rather generous portions is absolutely delicious. You can tell great care is taken in sourcing ingredients. All mains hover around the six pound mark which makes it rather easy to forgive Bea's little faults for the charming and incredibly good value for money brunch it serves in an atmosphere where you can just relax and enjoy the mountains of pancakes served to you.
For the adventurous:
Honey & Co has slowly but surely become one of London’s most loved and well regarded restaurants for dinner, reviewed and raved about by critics and bloggers alike, its middle eastern delicacies cooked up by a husband and wife duo gaining almost cult like status. This was why I was rather excited to hear that they now also serve a great value and equally unusual and Middle Eastern/ Israeli inspired brunch every Saturday that makes it a little more affordable than their incredible but more special treat worthy £29 set dinner meal. For £11.50 you get a vast mezze spread with anything from their infamously tasty hummus to more brunchy items like yogurt with their homemade granola. On top of that you get to pick a brunch main with equally enticing options such as roast aubergine, tahini and fried egg in pitta, scrambled eggs on garlic yogurt with roast potato bread soldiers or their middle eastern twist on classic scrambled eggs with added chilli roast tomatoes. The food and flavours are as with their dinner menu exceptional and in terms of value for money pretty unrivalled in London. Another must is their excellent and punchy Turkish coffee, served in a beautiful tin jug it delivers a caffeine kick and great depth of coffee flavour. You have to book to secure a table here and boy it's worth it every time I go. A real gem in London that should be on everyone's to try list and that will without a doubt broaden your brunch horizons
For coffee lovers:
Workshop has to be something like my home away considering the Saturday and Sunday mornings (and more often than not afternoons as they serve brunch till 3) that I have spent here . It was the first brunch place in London I fell truly in love with. That is not only because of the wide wood heavy space with slightly industrial feel it is housed in with a coffee roast machine as is the centre point, the kind of place you can easily spend hours reading the weekend papers and sipping on a flat white. No it’s because the flatwhite you will be sipping is quite arguable one of the best the capital has to offer. Why? Well at Workshop they take their coffee very seriously, roasted on site and made by barristas that really know their caffeine filled beverages. That is not to say that the food is neglected. In fact their Antipodean inspired menu offers fresh and tasty dishes that please all tastes. From their signature corn fritters with halloumi, poached eggs, spicy salsa and to their amazing banana bread served with what else but espresso mascarpone and plum and orange jam, they are bursting with flavour and far removed from your average eggs benedict. From their coffee to their food, workshop is a place where quality is paramount and a place that I am happy to call one of my most regular haunts!
For those up for trying new flavor combinations:
Housed in a beautifully converted period building and with ample and in London very precious al fresco dining space, Modern Pantry has a certain elegant and finesse that is carried right from its location and interior to its brunch options. How? Well Kiwi chef Anna Hansen has been cooking up experimental fusion dishes with a fine eye for unusual flavour combinations for a few years now and has created a menu that offers a good mix of sweet and savoury options and a menu that is not averse to pushing her diners taste buds a little bit. Indeed some of the ingredients were even to me a regular in the restaurant scene completely unfamiliar and pushed me into trying something completely new. Indeed the raspberry pancakes with creme fraiche and liquorish (!) berry compote that arrived after 20 minutes, the menu pointing out this wait to ensure the fluffiness of the batter, did not disappoint. Light as a cloud, filled with juicy raspberries topped with creme fraiche and tangy compote with just a hint of the slightly medicinal liquorish flavor were one of the best pancakes I have sampled in my time. Hansen knows her flavours and ingredients and will leave you baffled and amazed by her take on the humble brunch.
For that Antipodean touch:
Prices may be slightly higher than at other comparable brunch cafes at Salvation Jane (mains do tend to crack the ten pound mark) but the dishes served her are executed and presented beautifully and with that fresh Antipodean touch that have made it one of my long time brunch favourites. My usual order, corn fritters with avocado chili salsa, creme fraiche, roast tomatoes and an extra side of chili jam, are light, tasty and one of the only savoury brunch options I would be enticed by enough to order instead of my usual sweet treats to start the day. It's clear that thought and attention to detail have gone into a menu that takes brunch classics and adds a certain twist to them, be it their organic ham hock, chorizo and roast pepper baked beans with spinach, chili cornbread and poached eggs or the toasted coconut French toast with ricotta, lime syrup and pistachios. It is also a vegetarian's paradise with most menu items coming in a meatless alternative, indeed my corn fritters also available with that breakfast classic that is bacon if you desire. Service can be a little disinterested and confused at times but the standard of food and laid back atmosphere make up for that. Brunch is served at weekends from early in the morning until 3pm, making it the perfect place to cure a hangover and a place where every time you go you can explore a little more of the diverse and seasonally changing menu.
And for the perfect outfit I've picked a casual sunday button up denim dress and a chic bag to hold the weekend supplements.