Lunches are so done and who’s up in time for breakfast at the weekend anyway? Following in the well-fed footsteps of New York and Dubai, brunches are fast-becoming a weekend staple of Londoners. And whether you prefer a Middle Eastern twist or sky high experience, we’ve found the best brunch spots in the capital. Bon appetit!
The Culture Hub: Tom’s Kitchen – Somerset House
Whether it’s an autumnal exhibition, summer gig or a skate across the ice rink at Christmas, Somerset House is a hive of activity all year round. But one attraction remains throughout: Tom’s Kitchen. The brainchild of chef Tom Aitkens, the restaurant opened in 2009 following the success of it’s the original Chelsea outlet, serving fine British food with a heft wine selection. Since then, they’ve expanded to St Katherine’s Docks and Canary Wharf. The brunch menu is a decadent affair with options ranging from beef carpaccio to start, beer-battered pollock and chips or steak for mains and Eton Mess for pudding. More traditional brunch choices are on offer too – so if you fancy eggs or pancakes and your date has their heart set on a roast, that’s no problem.
After a tangy, salsa-tinged crab cake to start, I opted for the Sunday roast. The plate was stocked with a delicious, gravy-soaked spread of tender beef, two Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, carrots and cauliflower, though I would have preferred more veg and less carbs. If you’ve room for dessert, choose the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fondant. It sounds sickly but is divine: hot liquid chocolate with a hint of peanut pours out of a soufflé and caramel ice cream tops proceedings off perfectly. Tom’s may be all year round, but its indulgent brunch menu and cosy brown leather booths make it the perfect place to escape during winter.
Tom’s Kitchen at Somerset House serves brunch Saturday and Sunday (roasts Sunday only), 10am-4pm. For more and to book, see the Tom’s Kitchen website.
The Asian One: Busaba Eathai – Shoreditch
While we love Eggs Benedict and avocado on toast as much as the next brunch devotee, sometimes one does hanker after something a little different n’est ce pas? They said that variety is the spice is the life – an adage thoroughly adhered to by Busaba Eathai, one of the only restaurant chains that somehow manages to retain its standing and consistent food quality. Offering variety aplenty, Busaba Shoreditch’s eclectic and creative brunch menu is ideal for the foodie looking to try something new and different of a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The imaginative, inventive menu also offers a brunch and unlimited Prosecco option, which – of course – we undertook to test fully on your behalf, dear readers.
For a very generous £25, brunchers can enjoy two hours of non-stop fizz plus a ‘light bite’ and ‘brunch plate’ to ensure you don’t get too tipsy mid-afternoon. There are herbal teas and fresh juices too (try the Guava Collins – an aromatic mix of guava, lime, coconut and lime leaf) if you’re not up for a boozy brunch situation. The coconut porridge with ginger spiced pineapple and a hint of chilli comes highly recommended, ditto the fresh fruit salad, zingy with watermelon, mango and mint. Follow your starter with one of Busaba’s twists on traditional brunch – the baked eggs with spicy minced beef is satisfying and substantial, while the Thai-style kedgeree or Thai potato hash with chilli, spring onion and galangal certainly pack sufficient heat. Staff are attentive and friendly, on hand to offer tips on menu recommendations and consistently ensuring fizz is topped up. Just make sure they remember to fill up your water glass too… And if not, Shoreditch has enough bars and boutiques to while the hours away. You have been warned!
Brunch is available at Busaba Kingston Riverside and Shoreditch, 11am–2pm on Saturday and Sunday. For more information and to book, see the Busaba Eathai website.
The One with a View: Radio Rooftop – The Strand
London’s ME Hotel opened a couple of years back and if you’re not staying the night, its main attraction is the sprawling rooftop bar and restaurant – Radio – which showcases a stunning London skyline. We sat outside, with a view over St Paul’s, The Shard and beyond, while Covent Garden bustled below us. Though covers can helpfully be pulled out from above should it rain, we visited on a beautifully sunny day, which perfectly suited our Spanish-themed menu of Huevos Benedictos (eggs Benedict for the unitiated) with truffle hollandaise sauce, sweetcorn fritters with roast tomato and bacon, asparagus with a poached duck egg, crab omelette, fries and prosecco. At £12 per plate, dishes are small but rich. You can order plenty from the menu without feeling too guilty, but if you’re not starving one plate and a side dish is plenty.
If Bloody Mary’s are your thing (and, let’s face it, what’s a brunch without one?) there’s a ‘Do It Your Bloody Self, Mary’ station where all the ingredients are lined up for you to help yourself. The bar staff know their stuff, and are happy to recommend the perfect red wine for your pork burger or share secrets for concocting the best ‘Mary. We arrived at noon and it was quiet, but gently buzzing by 1.30pm. A group of pastel-suited men sipped gin and tonics on the sofas, while a group of girlfriend clinked Bellinis and a family sipped cappuccinos. The atmosphere was warm, friendly and relaxed – though trainers and sportswear are a no-no. Book at once.
Brunch is served at Radio 11am – 4pm, Saturday and Sunday. For more information and to book, see the Radio website.
The South American One: Lima Floral – Covent Garden
Tucked discreetly at the quieter end of Covent Garden – making it an ideal brunch spot if you’re feeling fragile or need a shopping intermission – Lima Floral is the chic Peruvian sister to the world’s 15th best restaurant, Lima Fitzrovia. Celebrating the best of the country’s cuisine, albeit with a modern twist, everything is a feast for the eyes, from the rich aqua, white and art-adored walls to the artistic presentation of the dishes. Two new weekend brunch menus have just been introduced with curated selections that sound as deliciously exotic as they do bewildering. Thankfully staff are impressively knowledgeable about the traditional dishes and unfamiliar ingredients including native fruits, vegetables and fish, some direct from the Amazon.
The Andean breakfast, served until noon, is a mouth-watering set three-course affair including cereal porridge with yoghurt, bee pollen and eucalyptus, plus mini sizzling pig sliders. The Long Lunch lasts until 3.30pm, with a sharing starter that boasts vibrant sea bream ceviche and traditional spicy raw tuna in the mix. Choose from mains of beef, hake and chicken, all prepared Peruvian style, followed by a small plate of deserts such as coffee ice cream with cocoa crumble and bite sized meringue. To drink there’s hangover-combating Tiger’s milk shots of curative spices, zesty smoothies and refreshing fruity tea blends.
It may sound a lot to stomach at lunchtime, but portions are modestly sized and taste clean and light, ensuring you don’t leave feeling like you’ll fall into a food coma. To be on the safe side however, finish with Pisco coffee, a heady blend of coffee, cream and the Peruvian firewater that is Pisco (a brandy from Muscat grapes) that will ensure you depart with a smile on your face and spring in your step!
Brunch is available at Lima Floral from 10:30am to 2:30pm on Saturdays and 10:30am to 3:00pm on Sundays. For more information and to book, see the Lima Floral website.
The Pop-Up: London Riviera – Tower Bridge
Summer may be over but stoic Brits would never let an autumnal breeze or spot of rain stand in the way of brunch. Take a stroll down by the glorious Tower Bridge and stop for food and cocktails at London Riviera: a kitsch, fluorescent pop-up on Queen’s Walk where the décor is inspired by Miami and the food inspired by the Levantine region (Cyprus, Turkey, Israel and Lebanon). Brightly-coloured plastic tables (with umbrellas should it rain) and beds dot around the bar, overlooking the Tower of London, the Shard and the grand Bridge itself.
We ate grilled merguez sausages with potatoes, red pepper pastries, flatbreads with goats cheese, cherry tomatoes and chermoula and beetroot and yoghurt dip with pita bread. Lounge music played softly in the background, as the South Bank’s throngs of tourists walked by. The menu is limited – if you come to the pop-up for lunch or dinner, there are lamb, chicken and halloumi along with and more adventurous dishes bulk it out. Still, it makes for a fun excursion, with tasty food and jolly service. Just remember to bring a jumper as well as your appetite!
Brunch is available at London Riviera Saturday and Sunday until October 31st. For more information and to book, see the London Riviera website.