All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. (John Gunther)
Now, let us turn from the words of one esteemed journalist and writer to someone with far more credibility…
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.
(A. A. Milne)
Oh, breakfast is SUCH a thing. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. With the weekend fast approaching, everyone must be making breakfast/brunch plans, so what better time to answer one of the questions I get asked the most: where does one go to have brunch in London? Must say, one thing I envy Elaine for is that the brunch culture in Sydney is so much stronger than it is here in London, which makes me sad because I do so love my brunch. Still, there ARE some real gems, and I’m always on the prowl for more!
1. Granger & Co
When I visited Elaine in Sydney last Easter, one of the first places she brought me to was the much-raved-about Bill’s, and it really didn’t disappoint. So imagine how ridiculously happy I was when I found out that Bill Granger has a restaurant in London as well!!!!!! I still remember stumbling upon that golden nugget of information while not-listening in a lecture in First Year. Needless to say, I made plans for breakfast the very next day, and to this day still go pretty frequently.
There are only two things I order at Granger & Co.
Ricotta Hotcakes, Banana & Honeycomb Butter (£11.50)
These are so fiiiiiiine… Thick and fluffy and literally like eating clouds. The ones here always seem to be even fluffier than the ones I had in Sydney, even though I would never have thought that possible. And when you get that odd sliver of ricotta that didn’t quite get mixed in, and it melts on your tongue all smooth and creamy? HEAVEN. As per proper pancake etiquette, you must drench the hotcakes in the entire pot of maple syrup provided… and then ask for more on the side for dunking.
Sweetcorn Fritters, Roast Tomato, Spinach & Bacon (£13.50)
I love having both a sweet AND savoury option when I eat, and this is the savoury option I always go for. These are crispy and extremely tasty, the flavors being almost reminiscent of “cucur udang” (local prawn fritters in Singapore and Malaysia).
Granger & Co can get really crowded so be prepared to stand in line. The longest I’ve ever queued was just under an hour on a freezing Saturday morning, so don’t go hungry. There will be lots of regulars, some of them Australian, and every one of them perfectly willing to queue because they all know how DAMN WORTH IT those ricotta hotcakes are.
But hey, queuing is always a great opportunity to make friends!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D Tell your fellow queuer that you like his shoes, or that she has purdy hair. I love the brunch crowds because they are my kind of people – laid-back, carefree people who love food enough to wake up early and make time for a leisurely breakfast, and who care enough about the people in their lives to want to sit around and chat over good coffee.
On another note, I don’t know when it was exactly that hipsters hijacked the brunch scene but they seem to form a huge section of the brunch demographic, to the extent that one would think brunch an unquestionable hallmark of hipsterism. Anyway, I tend to steer clear of hipsters, because I am so terribly mainstream that they would just think me supremely uncool and won’t want to be my friend. :'(
GRANGER & CO
175 Westbourne Grove
London W11 2SB
Mon-Sat: 7AM to 11PM
Sun: 8AM to 10PM
*breakfast is only served until 12pm, but the ricotta hotcakes and sweetcorn fritters are also on the lunch menu
This is another favourite of mine.
It was here that I first tasted and fell in love with toasted banana bread. Thick slices of your basic banana bread, but toasted so that the outside develops a crust and the inside is warm and fluffy and aromatically banana-y… Toasted banana bread is SUCH a revelation. Ever since I first sampled this, I have taken to toasting leftover slices of every loaf cake I make. It honestly is the best way to eat leftover cake.
They change up the accompaniments all the time. On my most recent jaunt to Lantana it was served with sticky toffee sauce and praline but I have also had it with honey ricotta and whipped blueberry butter on previous occasions.
Toasted Banana Bread with Sticky Toffee Sauce and Praline
Toasted Banana Bread with Honey Ricotta
Other offerings include corn fritters, which are decent, but aren’t a patch on those done at Granger & Co. These were just as tasty but unfortunately not as crisp.
Corn fritters stacked w streaky bacon, fresh spinach and slow roast tomatoes, served with an avocado chilli lime salsa and creme fraiche
There is also the ham hock, chorizo and roast pepper baked beans w spinach, toasted cornbread and poached eggs.
Ham hock, chorizo and roast pepper baked beans with spinach, toasted cornbread and poached eggs
Homemade baked beans are always intriguing and these were good, but I was far more interested in the toasted cornbread, as is to be expected.
Another dish they used to do is the haddock hash cakes with poached egg. They don’t offer it anymore but they may bring it back someday, who knows!
Haddock Hash Cakes with Poached Egg
Finally, I love the cold brew they offer here. Delicious, smokey coffee, and a cute, gimmicky way of serving it. I asked the friendly waitress if I could steal the bottle when I was done and she laughed and said yes, but my conscience got the better of me.
Anyway, the stand-out dish for me, the one that keeps me coming back, is definitely the toasted banana bread.
13 Charlotte Place
Mon-Fri: 8AM to 1130AM
Sat-Sun: 9AM to 3PM
Also, I just checked out their site and apparently ‘lantana’ is ‘a hardy invasive weed that thrives in unlikely environments’. Pretty cool stuff. May we all strive to be lantanas today!
3. Salvation Jane
Sister cafe to Lantana, offering much of the same stuff but in a rather nicer setting, I have recently decided that I prefer SJ to Lantana. For more details check out this post.
55 City Road
Mon: 730AM to 4PM
Tues-Fri: 730AM to 10PM
Sat & Sun: 9AM to 4PM
4. Tom’s Kitchen
(sorry for the lack of my own photos here, I was probably talking too much and forgot altogether, but I shall replace them with close substitutes just for your viewing pleasure)
When I found out that Tom Aikens was bringing Tom’s Kitchen to my neighbourhood of Canary Wharf this summer, I was really excited! I’ve eaten at his Chelsea and Somerset House branches before so it’s great that there’s now a branch much closer to me. Plus Westferry Circus provides a gorgeous backdrop.
I got the ‘crisp Belgian waffle with blueberry compote and chantilly cream’ (£9.50). The idea of waffles really appealed to me on this particular morning. Sometimes I think I prefer waffles to pancakes. Anyway, these were nice and slightly crispy on the outside, soft, fluffy and eggy on the inside.
A waffle is like a pancake with a syrup trap. (Mitch Hedberg)
Image courtesy of Yammie’s Noshery
(definitely DO check out Yammie’s blog)
Disclaimer: Again, this is NOT a picture of what I got, but it’s a fair representation.
Now, for my savoury option, I was going to go for a brunch classic of eggs ben/florentine/royale, but then I saw TRUFFLE CHIPS (£3.50) on the menu and could literally think of nothing else after! I was so excited, I was shakin’ in ma boots!!!!!!!!!!!
One thing that is really severely lacking on menus in London is truffle fries, which is one of my great loves. I miss how easy it is to get them in Singapore, where you can find them on most cafe menus. So really, every time I find another place in London that serves truffle fries, I go CRAZY.
I added £1 so I could have parmesan atop my truffle fries.
(The above is a picture Elaine took of our truffle fries back home in PS Cafe a long time ago.)
I could smell these even before the waiter put them down on the table. They were piping hot, crispy on the outside and fluffy within. And they had that unmistakeable one-of-a-kind truffley aroma. I say ‘truffley’ because the scent of truffle is just so indescribable. Seriously, the closest would unfortunately be…. gasoline. But man oh man oh maaaaan, gasoline of the very best sort. The kind used to power Tony Stark’s Audi R8.
And if the smell of parmesan is to be likened to feet, then it is to me what a beautiful foot is to someone with a foot fetish. I don’t really want a picture of a foot on our blog but I’m sure Tony Stark has beautiful feet so that should suffice.
And there we have it… Gasoline and beautiful feet.
11 Westferry Circus
London E14 4HD
Sat-Sun: 1215PM to 345PM
5. The Breakfast Club
I guess this had to be put on the list somewhere. Nothing much to say since most Londoners would’ve been here, but this is for the benefit of visitors to London or our ~friendz in foreign landz~ who just want to know what the big smoke has to offer.
They have an extensive menu and portion sizes are really quite decent. I would come here if I wanted something substantial. Or if I needed to cater to a wide spectrum of tastes.
Your basic English breakfast. Bacon, sausage, eggs, beans, tomato and toasted multi-grain bread.
The Half Monty (£8)
This one is my favourite.
The Ham So Eggsited (£8)
Pancakes with ham, egg, cheddar and maple syrup. The mix of savoury and sweet is beautiful. The quirky name, or really, the use of the word “eggsited”, eggcites me beyond reason. Pork and maple is a match made in heaven.
Be prepared to queue.
There are many locations, but I usually go to the Soho one, which is the original branch:
33 D’arblay Street
Mon-Fri: 8AM to 5PM
Sat-Sun: 9AM to 5PM
Check out the other locations here
6. The Chelsea Bun Diner
The first and only time I’ve been here was when one of my favorite people in the world brought me – thank you <3 – but I was definitely impressed, and so felt it only right that it got a mention here. They do great all-day breakfasts here. The only reason I haven’t been back since is because there are too many places to eat at and TOO LITTLE TIME!!!!!!!
It’s just off Kings Road, which is probably my favourite road in all of London. And because it’s tucked away in a back street, you don’t really need to worry about any skinny and fabulous Sloan Rangers totally judging you while you pig out.
They have an extensive menu and portion-sizes are definitely decent.
I had this:
scrambled eggs w shrimp and cream sauce, sausage, bacon, hashbrowns and toasted English muffins with butter
We also had MILKSHEIKS.
Here’s my vanilla one.
Also, what do you call an Arabian dairy farmer?
A milk sheikh!!!!!!!! Whoop whoop~~~~
THE CHELSEA BUN
9B Lamont Road
7. Charlie’s Portobello Road Cafe
I think most people who have been to Portobello Market have been to Charlie’s. Either that or you walk right by it because it’s pretty inconspicuous. They do simple, no-frills food here. Cosy, rather quaint ambience. It’s a great place to hole up in if it happens to rain on you during your trip to the market, which almost always happens to me.
CHARLIE’S PORTOBELLO ROAD CAFE
59A Portobello Road
Mon-Sat: 9AM to 5PM
Sun: 10AM to 3PM
8. Hawksmoor Guildhall
The only Hawksmoor branch that serves breakfast, and a really good one at that. For details refer to this post.
10 Basinghall Street
Monday-Friday: 7AM to 10AM