The A To Z Of London's Brunch Scene

Helen Graves
By Helen Graves Last edited 8 months ago
The A To Z Of London's Brunch Scene

We’ve covered the A-Z of London’s pub snacks; now it's time to tackle the brunch scene. Here’s your guide to how it's happening in London.

Baked eggs = a fine brunch.

A is for alcohol

Alcohol is the real power behind London’s brunch scene. Think about it — a pint with your bacon sandwich at 9am? Not socially acceptable. A bloody mary or five with eggs at 10.30am? Totally fine.

B is for bottomless

Brunch can no longer have a bottom. It must be endless. We have no idea why but the very idea of ordering one dish, having a drink and leaving is totally passé. Bottomless booze obviously wins over bottomless food every time (see above). Nothing quite like getting completely hosed at 11am then falling back into bed… we imagine.

The brunch fried chicken sandwich at Chick n Sours.

C is for chicken

Fried chicken, specifically. It is no longer just eaten at lunch, dinner or after school on the bus (sigh). It is firmly established as a brunch item, and you know what — why the heck not. Stick it in a bun with some hot sauce and serve it up, we say. The absolute best example of this can be found at Chick n Sours (two branches now guys, no excuse) and should be eaten with a side of their Szechuan aubergine which is one of the best side dishes in London.

D is for dogs

Doggy brunch is a thing. We'll say no more.

A classic drippy egg situation at The Wolseley.

E is for eggs

The ultimate brunch item is, undoubtedly, the egg. Eggs in sandwiches, eggs scrambled, boiled and fried but most of all, quivering poached eggs, ready to dribble. Burst the yolk, take a photo on your phone.

F is for full English

The full English has been relegated back to boring old breakfast. You're either going gangbusters at Hawksmoor or you're getting the job done in a greasy spoon. Poor full English. Maybe if it just stopped trying so hard…

A classic full English. Photo: Ewan Munro.

G is for groups

You can't brunch alone, for some reason. There must be at least two of you, but ideally, a group. We think it might be called… socialising? You know, that thing that happens after 1pm normally.

H is for hangover

It seems like such a good idea at the time. You wake up, still a bit drunk, and someone has the bright idea, "let’s go for brunch!" You go. You arrive. It goes one of three ways, 1. You eat too much and feel sick. 2. You can't eat anything. 3. You go to the one with bottomless alcohol and wake up three days later in another country.

A green juice. Photo: Shandi-Lee Cox.

I is for Instagram

This is basically the whole point of brunch. Don't be standing on any chairs taking photos, though, because we've just had our sniper re-calibrated.

J is for juice

A totally essential component of any meal involving breakfast items, but what about when things start to get green? A green juice can actually be rather nice providing it's not claiming to do anything, like anti-oxidise, cleanse or be the next Roomba.

A luxury brunch. Photo: Hotel du Vin & Bistro.

K is for karaoke

Not joking. From 11.15am every Sunday, Bunga Bunga in south London hosts a 'Bunga Bunga Party Brunch', which involves a three-course lunch, prosecco and 'crowd-sourced karaoke'. Yup. Kind of tempted, actually.

L is for luxury

There's a serious high-end brunch scene. We're talking along the lines of London's most luxurious breakfasts here just… later. Think caviar, champagne, society gossip.

Brunch, Middle Eastern style at The Good Egg.

M is for Middle Eastern

Brunching Middle Eastern style is so hot right now. Think eggs with za'atar, plates of herbs with feta, shakshuka, sabich, babka and more labneh than you can shake a pitta at.

N is for noodles

Noodles are good any time of day — it just took London a little while to realise. Head to Koya Bar for a) the best breakfast noodles and b) a shit tonne of cool points.

The breakfast noodles at Koya Bar. Photo: Lizzie Mabbott.

O is for overeating

It's inevitable (see: bottomless) but the problem here is that the morning is the worst time of all to overeat. Overeaten at lunch? Take an afternoon nap. Overeaten at dinner? Get an early night. Overeaten at brunch? Time to take a long hard look at your life choices.

P is for pancakes

They tick a lot of brunch boxes because, a) they're American (at least, the fluffy kind are) b) they're stackable and c) they're sweet. We're loving the Dutch babies at Where The Pancakes Are, too.

A fluffy Dutch baby pancake from Where The Pancakes Are. Photo: David Loftus.

Q is for queueing

There's a lot of this at brunch as well as lunch and dinner. The longest queues are to be found at The Breakfast Club, Dishoom and Lantana.

R is for rushing

Brunch is supposed to be a leisurely thing, right? So why does it always feel like a rush? Will there be a queue? Will we get a table? Will they still have EGGS?! So many questions.

A bloody Mary with loads of stuff in it. Photo: David Ashleydale.

S is for stacking

We've been through this before. What is it about breakfast (or in this case, brunch) foods that encourage stacking? It all starts with toast and it always, always ends with egg. A poached egg that wibbles and taunts you until you plunge your knife inside and let that glorious yolk do its thing. An overcooked egg yolk is brunch suicide.

T is for tea

Why is it that tea is a breakfast drink but not a brunch drink? Coffee seems totally acceptable at brunch but tea? Seems weird. It's like tea takes a break after breakfast then comes back mid-afternoon.

Tea. Not cool enough for brunch. Photo: Dave Morris.

U is for underground

Or more specifically, down under. By which we mean… Australia (look, A and O were already taken). The Aussies freakin' love brunch and their infectious enthusiasm for it has caught on in London. They love coffee. We love coffee! They love eggs. We love eggs! They love getting drunk. We love… dammit we've strayed into booze territory again.

V is for vodka

Look, it's the essential ingredient in a bloody mary and is, therefore, non-negotiable.  

W is for wishing you could just eat breakfast or lunch

Sigh.    

X is for eXpensive

Cynical? Us? It just seems like sometimes putting items on a brunch menu means charging a couple more quid than you did at breakfast.

Young people queueing for brunch at The Breakfast Club. Photo: Bernie Lambert.

Y is for youth

Brunch is something that Young People do, it seems. They gather in packs, around too-small tables covered with syrup, iPhones and celery-tufted glasses. Is there a cut-off age at which it's no longer acceptable to eat brunch?

Z is for zone

Brunch falls into one of two categories: local or destination. Local seems to make the most sense — you roll out of bed, throw on a hoodie, slink into a nearby café and re-humanise yourself. Destination brunch requires washing and, really, who wants to do that on a Sunday morning?

Looking for somewhere to go for brunch? Try our handy flow chart.

Last Updated 01 November 2016