We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Brunch on the other hand is a lazy, leisurely feast, king of hangover cures, waster of Saturday and Sunday mornings. But we love them both, for so many reasons…eggs, Bloody Mary, sourdough bread, mimosas, bacon… we could go on. So whether your next breakfast/brunch is a business meeting, a friendly catch-up or a special treat, let Harden’s be your guide to the best places to get your bacon and eggs…
The Wolseley W1
“Captains of industry rub shoulders with A-listers” at Corbin & King’s perennially “exciting” grand café/brasserie, by the Ritz – its “old-school glamour” makes it “great for impressing people”; the “hit ’n’ miss” food is not really the point, but absolutely everyone agrees this is the home of “the most glamorous breakfast in town”. Prices range from £4.25 for Museli to £16.50 for a Full English. Or, if you’re feeling really indulgent, there’s always the Caviar Omelette at £67.
“Like The Wolesley, only smaller” – this “beautiful” Aldwych celeb-magnet is “another triumph” for Corbin & King (and likewise a business and power breakfast mainstay); the food – “Viennese/Alsatian cooking with a smattering of British dishes” – is “good, but always a secondary attraction”. Prices are on a par with The Wolseley, as you would expect.
The Modern Pantry EC1
Anna Hansen’s “inventive” fusion cuisine divides views on this “noisy” Clerkenwell venture; fans say it’s “one of the best”, offering food that’s “never dull”, but critics find it just “peculiar” – “seemingly interesting on paper, then failing to deliver”; perhaps try brunch first! Aside from a range of reviving breakfast cocktails (bloody Mary, bellini, kir royale) there’s everything from porridge (£5.50) to pancakes and spicy omelettes to egg and bacon muffins (£9.50).
Duck & Waffle EC2
With its “incredible” 40th-floor views (plus a “terrifying” lift ride to get there), this City yearling would have made quite a splash anyway, so it’s surprising how many reporters also applaud its “unexpectedly great” British food… especially when it’s served 24/7. At breakfast and brunch diners can enjoy the restaurant’s eponymous dish (£17), but there’s also a great selection of classics with a twist – like ox cheek Benedict and duck egg en cocotte (£11).
Smiths (Ground Floor) EC1
“Sunday brunch at Smith’s is a must”, or at least so say long-term fans of this “atmospheric” hang-out, “slap bang in the middle of Smithfield”; of late, however, not all reporters have been that impressed. Situated right beside London’s legendary meat market (and we’re not talking about Fabric nightclub next door), Smiths serves up the likes of bacon butties (£4.50), the Full English (£9) and gammon, eggs and chips (£7.50).
Dean Street Townhouse W1
“Slick” and happening, this Soho brasserie seduces the punters with its “comfortable” gent’s-club décor, which “harks back to a bygone era of luxury”; the food, though, is decidedly “ordinary” – only the “fabulous” brunch really stands out. Dishing out delicious Burford Brown eggs served a multitude of different ways (£5.50-£12), as well as traditional kippers (£9.50) and English breakfasts (£12).
New Tom’s W11
Tom Conran has just reopened this all-day dining spot under a new name, but back when it was still Tom’s Deli our reporters said: “Best eggs Benedict ever” – the sort of attraction that means “you may have to queue” for brunch at Tom Conran’s ever-popular Notting Hill deli/diner.” As well as the traditional breakfast (£13.50), they now serve, among other things, asparagus and slow cooked egg (£13 – to which you can add black truffle for £7) and smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels (£10.50).
Caravan N1 and EC1
“Amazing” brunches – with “hard-to-beat” coffee (roasted in-house) – is the highlight at these funky eateries, which at other times serve “a modern British/global take on tapas”; while still ultra “hip”, the Exmouth original is nowadays eclipsed by the “exciting” King’s Cross spin-off (housed in an “incredible” former grain store). Why not try something a little different, like Caravan’s tomato and pepper ragout with baked eggs (£7), add chorizo for an extra £2.
Lantana Café W1
“Laid-back”, it may be, but this Oz café in Fitzrovia – with its “amazing” cakes, its “top-notch” coffee and its “interesting” other dishes – is becoming quite a beacon; “shame they don’t take reservations!” It also has particularly excellent weekend brunch in the form of the BERT, sourdough toast, streaky bacon, eggs, rocket, tomato and aioli (£8.50). Also worth noting for weekend brunchers, no alcohol is served until after midday.
This unashamedly porcine offering is brought to Clerkenwell’s Exmouth Market by Tom Ward and Allegra McEvedy, both formerly of Leon. They’ve recently started serving a brunch menu with every combination of pork and eggs you can think of. Prices range from £6.50 for pancakes to £14 for their maple cured bacon steaks.
Brunch is a great way to experience this Borough Market spot, which can often seem pricey for lunch and dinner. The Full Borough breakfast is on the cheaper side of things at £15, there’s also a veggie breakfast and some very decent omelettes on the menu.
Riding House Café W1
This casual brasserie could have been scooped straight out of Brooklyn and placed in Fitzrovia. Loved by the media types who work around Oxford Circus, brunch is a particular highlight. Head here for their buttermilk pancakes (£7) or chorizo hash with poached eggs (£11).
Granger & Co (group)
At Granger & Co you’ll be treated to a Full Aussie (£13.80), rather than a full English, and there’s loads of veggie options (like sweetcorn or courgette fritters) and sourdough toast. Now with locations in Clerkenwell and Notting Hill.
To keep up to date with all the latest London goings-on and news from across the country sign up for our free newsletter. You can follow us on Twitter @HardensBites, like us on Facebook and pin us on Pinterest.