Weekends and sunshine call for only one thing in London, and that’s brunch. The West End is a treasure trove of culinary delights when it comes to sumptuous brunch spots to chose from, so stop off at one of our top picks to fuel up for the weekend ahead.
Bakery, Bar, Brasserie, Restaurant, Pastelaria, French, $$$
This polished French-style brasserie, following in the footsteps of its transatlantic sister restaurant in New York, is certainly one for special occasions. The Covent Garden restaurant’s plush interior of red leather banquettes and attentive waiting staff call for a treat of a dining experience. Nothing beats an egg breakfast and Balthazar does this well, with its indulgent poached eggs royale with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce for £15. If you have a sweet tooth, the £8 New York-style pancakes are perfectly fluffy, as are the hazelnut waffles at £8.50. As expected, Balthazar gets busy quickly for brunch—served from 10am-4pm on weekends—so make sure to reserve a table in advance.
Pioneers of the raw food revolution, the Wild Food Café gets the stamp of approval from healthy foodies. It provides a welcome change from greasy fry-ups. The plant-based menu—including the pan-fried wild mushrooms on an organic sourdough toast for £8 and the famous Forgotten Ecstasy raw cacao, maca, coconut cream, maple syrup smoothie, £6.20—is an impressive collection of experimental, organic dishes. Along with the premises (open from 12pm), the menu has recently been re-launched. It will take on more guilt-free delicacies like wild rice pancakes and coconut crepes. The location itself is also worth the visit for a relaxed weekend stroll, within Covent Garden’s pretty, hidden courtyard of Neal’s Yard.
This lively and modern Fitzrovia brasserie has range of both communal and more intimate seating, and provides a variety of breakfast dishes on its weekday breakfast menu. For those with a sweet-tooth, try the brioche French toast with vanilla-clotted cream and maple syrup at £7, while the £12 chorizo hash brown with mushroom and poached eggs will hit the spot for fans of savoury breakfasts. Served until 4pm, The Riding House Café’s weekend brunch menu extends to more typical brasserie dishes—including burgers and roasts—from noon.
The second branch of Koya’s recently closed udon noodle-joint, Koya Bar wouldn’t look out of place in Tokyo. The small yet spacious Soho spot is an exciting brunch alternative. It offers the standard Japanese native morning meal of grilled fish, miso soup with rice and pickles for £13.90, as well as its creative bowls of udon and rice porridge. Try the ‘English breakfast’ at £10.90, a testament to the innovative menu, whose brothy boll of fried egg, bacon and shitake mushroom udon serves as a hybrid of the classic British fry-up with an authentic Japanese twist.
The stunning decor, generous menu and quality service means this grand-brasserie is by no means in the shadow of its famous sibling The Wolseley. Opened in 2012 and decked out in green leather, dark wood and antique mirrors, the Aldwych grand European cafe is the ideal setting to enjoy The Delaunay’s confident brunch menu. This menu is served on weekends between 11am and 5pm. Choose from the traditional Viennese breakfast at £11.50 of smoked ham, salami, gouda, boiled egg and a pretzel, as well as the kedgeree and wide selection of German würstchen (the pork, apple and smoked black pudding sausage is exquisite). Don’t forget the variety of freshly baked pastries.
‘Freshly made food that just so happens to be good for you’ is the ethos of this newly opened health-conscious cafe on the way to Marylebone. The all-day breakfast menu means late risers can enjoy the best of the morning treats—tuck into baked corn and polenta fritters with poached eggs, tomato salsa and avocado butter for £7.75 or the acai bowl with homemade gluten-free granola, mixed berries and bee pollen for £7.20. The filling £6 Superfood Smoothies are also well worth the money for the quantity of nourishing ingredients packed in (we recommend the creamy cocobutter smoothie). Like its Chelsea sister-branch, The Good Life Eatery doesn’t take reservations, so be prepared for to queue at peak brunching hours.
With branches all over London, The Breakfast Club is becoming a trendy go-to spot for all-day breakfast that’s guaranteed to deliver on taste. Its central Soho cafe is open for early risers from 8am all week, weekends included. Best for a hearty English Breakfast, enjoy ‘The Full Monty’ for £10.50 with bacon, sausage and black pudding, and the ‘Reggie the Veggie’ equivalent for £9.20, or chose their pancakes with ham, egg, cheddar and maple syrup, ‘Ham So Eggsited’. Named after the classic 80s movie, the quirky interior decor of the restaurant— filled with various trinkets, photos and letters pinned to the walls—adds to the dining experience.