Pancake Tuesday: London’s Top 10 restaurants for breakfast/brunch

The Wolseley W1

“Always bustling” and “a real occasion” – Corbin & King’s “large, continental and sophisticated”Grand Café near The Ritz is “a marvellous, metropolitan meeting point” not least for the capital’s movers ’n’ shakers (it’s “great for subtle star-spotting!”) for whom the “courteous and very professional service” helps make it the town’s No. 1 choice for business. The “brasserie comfort food is unambitious but well done”, and it’s as “a go-to venue for breakfast” (it’s “THE place in London”) that it particularly shines. Another Top Tip – “afternoon tea to die for”.

 


The Delaunay WC2

“Not as grand as its sibling The Wolseley”, Corbin & King’s “glamorous” outpost on Aldwych “is in a similar vein, but feels less frantic”, and in its own more “intimate” way is “one of the classiest rooms in town”. “The cooking, in an Austrian bent, is OK without being fantastic”, majoring in “jolly gigantic schnitzel” and other “stodgy” (slightly “complacent and expensive”) fare. As with its Piccadilly stablemate, breakfast here is a prime strength – “a very civilised way to start the day” – and its “well-spaced”, comfortable and “old-fashioned” style similarly makes it a major business favourite, being “smart enough to impress, without being overbearing”. It’s “brilliantly convenient for pre-theatre too.” Next door, its spin-off, ‘The Counter’, “serves a great coffee and the pastries are to die for!”

 

The Ivy Chelsea Garden SW3

The vote remains fairly equally split on Richard Caring’s burgeoning bevy of Ivy spin-offs which are popping up like mushrooms ‘in carefully selected locations’ across the country. (These – the ‘Grills & Brasseries’ are not to be confused with the mere ‘Cafés’, and aim for a more faithful reproduction of the original’s magic). For ‘The Ayes’, they make “a great local addition” providing “great British food in a buzzy setting” (“I keep expecting to be disappointed, and I’m not!”). For ‘The Nays’, “hugely underwhelming food” and “uneven”standards generally make it “feel like they are trying to milk the franchise, but are destroying it in the process”. The most popular is the “ladies-who-lunch” favourite on the King’s Road, whose “garden is to die for” (although “it’s an uphill struggle actually being seated in it”) – a “super, bustling and tastefully decorated venue with fabulous people watching opportunities” (and where the Top Tip is “its great breakfast: it’s much quieter so service is spot on!)”.

 

Riding House Café W1

“Cool” Fitzrovia haunt, exuding all the right design pheromones, whose “interesting breakfast choices (both healthy and less so)” and “informal vibe” make it “spot on for weekend brunch”. Fans do recommend it at other times too, but service is “uneven” and the overall food offering can seem “rather uninspiring”. A sibling, Rail House Café, opened in Nova Victoria in early 2017.

 

Caravan King’s Cross N1

“London’s most interesting brunch dishes”“light pastries and wholesome porridge to unusual spicy and savoury options” (not to mention “fabulous speciality coffees”) – help drive a “vibrant” buzz at these “funky” hang-outs, with the “bustling industrial-style” Granary Square outlet vying for top popularity with the smaller Exmouth Market original (Bankside has yet to make many waves; and there’s also a new City branch is opening in October 2017, in the new ‘Bloomberg Arcade’). The eclectic dishes can seem too “keen to be innovative at the expense of polish” though, or just plain “weird”.

 

Granger & Co (group)

“Friends have returned from Australia full of the joys of Bill Granger, now we can get the real thing!” – so say fans of these “cool and airy”, “posh-brunch heavens” who are prepared to endure the savage queues and “sometimes indifferent service” for his “brilliant and very different breakfasts”, and other “healthy and innovative food (although a menu which requires a dictionary might be seen as a bit pretentious!)”. However, at the W11 original in particular, there are critics who say: “it’s not worth the wait given plenty of alternatives nearby”.

 

Cecconi’s W1

Soho House’s “vibrant” all-day Venetian-style brasserie near Old Bond Street makes “a great place to relax, take your time, and watch the world go by” and is well liked – except by a few who find it “snotty” and “arrogant” – for its “professional and fun” approach. Even many fans think its food (“pleasant in a simple sort of way”) is “expensive”, but this place is a particular favourite “for an upmarket business breakfast”.

 

The Ivy Kensington Brasserie W8

The vote remains fairly equally split on Richard Caring’s burgeoning bevy of Ivy spin-offs which are popping up like mushrooms ‘in carefully selected locations’ across the country. (These – the ‘Grills & Brasseries’ are not to be confused with the mere ‘Cafés’, and aim for a more faithful reproduction of the original’s magic). For ‘The Ayes’, they make “a great local addition” providing “great British food in a buzzy setting” (“I keep expecting to be disappointed, and I’m not!”). For ‘The Nays’, “hugely underwhelming food” and “uneven”standards generally make it “feel like they are trying to milk the franchise, but are destroying it in the process”. The most popular is the “ladies-who-lunch” favourite on the King’s Road, whose “garden is to die for” (although “it’s an uphill struggle actually being seated in it”) – a “super, bustling and tastefully decorated venue with fabulous people watching opportunities” (and where the Top Tip is “its great breakfast: it’s much quieter so service is spot on!)”.

 

Milk SW12

“The best breakfast in town”, with “great staples and specials that deliver on flavour”, has earned cult status for this Antipodean café in Balham, now branching into evening service. “You have to pick your times to get a seat”, though – “my absolute favourite place to be at 10.30am on a Saturday morning; unfortunately, I’m not the only one…”. A cynical minority do loathe the place though: “it’s masquerading as some sort of high-end funky elite dining experience” for “wannabe hipsters”.

 

Breakfast Club (group)

“Delicious breakfasts: English, American, Antipodean (the waffles are a must!), …” supply “food that’s worth getting up for” at this growing group of “consistently high-quality” cafés. There is a snag though: “go off-peak to avoid the crowds and long waiting times”. Top Menu Tip – the “ever-popular huevos rancheros”.

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