Friday, 4 May 2012

London’s 7 Best Brunches

A good brunch needs a good reason. All that fried fatty goodness demands a blood sugar level deficit to make up for, and that means a big night out before. Hey, it’s fine, it’s a treat. We know you won’t do it too often. But when you do, cut the decision-making, do your sore head a favour, and get yourself to one of these excellent establishments:
1) Troubadour, Earl’s Court
Vintage coffee pots wink at you from the front window, ‘50s and ‘60s enamel advertising lines the walls, and there’s dark wood and stained glass aplenty: this bohemian cave on Brompton Road is the perfect foil for jolting the sleep out of your eyes. Fab brunch options include the hangover helper (omelette with two fillings of your choice, salad and fries or toast), hippy crunch (muesli, Greek yoghurt, honey) or sliders to share, with six meatballs coming in toasted buns with green chilli sauce or cheese and mayo.
2) The Lido Café, Brockwell Park
Locals love this Art Deco gem next to the Brockwell Park’s outdoor pool, which grabbed Best Park Café in 2011’s Time Out Eating and Drinking Awards. Floor-to-ceiling windows simply drink in views of treetops and sparkling water, giving the place an easy-breezy, holiday camp feel; as if you’ve painted yourself into a nostalgic retro postcard. Menus are seasonal, but there’s always a spot on the list for free range full English or plus boiled egg and soldiers. Pour maple syrup liberally over their blueberry buttermilk pancakes for a sugar hit.
3) Bistrotheque, Bethnal Green
The place that made brunch cool. Housed in a sparse, warehouse-y space warmed up by candles, quality table linen and a chap belting out Rihanna on the piano; Bistrotheque turns morning-after post-mortems into a final hurrah for last night’s clubbing. Finding it’s a bit of a mission - it’s tucked down a side-street off Cambridge Heath Road, at the top of an elusively-marked flight of stairs – so once you sit down you’re more than ready to be rewarded. Lucky you: nibble on avocado on toast, a cheeseburger poshed-up with pancetta and caramelised onion, or even a school dinner pudding made good, rhubarb crumble and custard goes down a treat.
4) Towpath Café, Dalston
If London were a movie set, the Regent’s Canal towpath between Angel and Victoria Park would be a behind-the-scenes tour. This is where you can peer into peoples’ back gardens, or dodge their jogging/cycling work-out along the path, or walk inches from their sleeping heads in canal’s houseboats. It’s where London becomes a neighbourhood, and the Towpath Café serves that need with aplomb. A confident menu takes up the space of an A3 blackboard – try sage sausage sandwich on sourdough bread – and mismatched decor taps into the ‘hood’s hipster sensibilities. Nosh it sitting at a sunny table by the water and you’re in brunch heaven.
5) The Breakfast Club, Soho
A concept cooked up by two 80s kids with an almighty collection of troll dolls, the Breakfast Club started with one yolk-yellow store in Soho and now has offshoots in Hoxton, Angel and Spitalfields. Step in to the Soho store and let the happy vibes and cartoonish carrot model at the bar charm the muddle out of your head before you even get a whiff of food. Pancakes get their own menu, so style them up as sweet (maple syrup, vanilla cream) or savoury (ham, egg and cheddar or bacon, hash brown, sausage and maple syrup) to taste.
6) Gazette Brasserie, Battersea
Brunch at Gazette Brasserie offers a certain ooh la la, with the café’s insides dolled up like a farmhouse kitchen in Brittany. Choose from Madeleines with honey or chocolate sauce, crepes stuffed with ham, egg and cheese, croque monsieurs or madames, or keep it simple with croissants and pain au chocolate. Big hangover, fancy tastes? A Full French will help you say non to that punched-in-the-head feeling: ham, omelette, sautéed potatoes with pancetta and mushroom, confied cherry tomatoes, brie and salad all wrestle for space on the plate. Use this calendar to book your brunch.


7) Duck Egg Café, 424 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LF
This café does what it says on the sign. You want duck eggs, they got ‘em by the basketful. Larger, yolkier and richer than hens’ eggs (which you can opt for too, for £1 less), a duck egg glistening across your fry-up makes you feel like a modern-day Henry VIII. Opening just for breakfast and lunch, there are usually queues out the door, and the shoebox space means you’ll probably end up sharing a table. For a more delicate brunch, try the eggs Benedict or Florentine and wash down with freshly squeezed orange juice.


Isabel Clift is a London-based travel writer. She edits the blog at HostelBookers.com, who specialise in budget travel advice, hostels and cheap London hotels.

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