Very occasionally, Britain says boo to American cultural imperialism. Brunch, for example, may long have been a mainstay of the New York social scene (in particular) but it has yet to become as overwhelmingly popular here. Brunch has, however, particularly taken firm root in Notting Hill, presumably because it’s London’s closest equivalent to SoHo.
They may be 3000 miles apart, but those who live ‘south of Houston’ and those who live on the Hill are both rather ambivalent about their weekend ‘destination’ status, and rather reluctant to be seen brunching with the ‘bridge and tunnel’ crowd. Such snobbery, we always suspected, was largely responsible for the long-running success of Coin’s, the former restaurant on this Notting Hill site, as a brunch destination in particular. On a quiet street, with a large outside area, and a that vital few minutes’ walk from Portobello market itself, this was for many years the ‘secret’ destination for the local trustafarians (armed, ideally with a copy of that week’s New Yorker.) The food, if not remarkable, was generally good of its type, and efficiently served. And the crowd was often very pretty.
The site has in recent months been revived under the banner of what should have been the perfect operator – Raoul’s, the famously popular pÃ¢tisserie/bistro/brunch spot from not-so-distant Maida Vale. You never can tell, though, and – objectively speaking – the new régime seemed pretty much disastrous on our Saturday morning visit. This was all the more difficult to excuse as the menu – English breakfasts, pasta, dishes of the day and so on – is simple-going-on-retro. And it was all the more inexcusable that it took an age to come. A visit does, however, offer some consolation – the eye-candy is back with a vengeance.