Marie Claire's guide to the best breakfasts and brunches in the Big Smoke
From beautiful bowls of granola to hangover fry ups (and everything in between) we’ve rounded up London’s best breakfasts and brunches, where the food is both delicious and highly Instagrammable.
London’s best breakfast places
Christopher’s, Covent Garden
Nestled in the heart of Theatreland, Covent Garden staple Christopher’s has one of the most expansive brunch menus that this seasoned brunch fan has ever encountered – and quality is just as great as the quantity.
In the sun-filled dining room, we were treated to superlative riffs on brunch staples from all over the culinary map. The Superfood Brunch menu means that even those who don’t see weekends as a chance to indulge will be in heaven: we loved the Born To Be Green super smoothie (£7) and the Avocado and Tomato Toast, with its perfectly poached egg on top (£10).
If you fancy something more decadent, Christopher’s has also got your back here, too. The Lobster Benedict (£24) is generously laden with the most tender lobster, while the Milk Chocolate Brioche French Toast (£12) was out of this world… a heady combination of copious amounts of melted chocolate, brioche, ice cream. Combine this with the fact that a separate Build Your Own Pancake menu exists, and it’s clear that Christopher’s also caters for those with a sweet tooth.
Make sure you combine your meal with a cocktail – it would be frankly rude not to, thanks to Christopher’s famous Martini Bar. We tried an incredible signature dirty martini, as well as a Vesper (named after the character from Casino Royale), which managed to combine vodka and gin without either becoming overpowering. Thanks to its delicious food and brilliant service, Christopher’s, a dinner-must for over 25 years, is now definitely one of our go-tos for brunch.
WOLF, Stoke Newington
For all you East Londoners, we have found your new go-to brunch spot. WOLF, located on super hip Stoke Newington High Street, celebrates authentic Italian food – and, boy, does it celebrate it in style.
Standard brunch ingredients like eggs and sausages are of course on the menu at WOLF, but head chef Karla Knowles (formerly of Petersham Nurseries) has turned these old favourites into new classics. Each element of our fennel sausage dish with deep fried egg, flat gnocchi and caramelised tropea onions (£10) was delicious both individually and combined, while my guest and I actually fought over each rich and salty morsel of the broken eggs with anchovies and capers (£7.00). We finished our meal with the banana bread (£7.50), where sour rhubarb and the comforting softness of the marscapone working together as the perfect foil for the banana.
We also have to give the drinks a huge shout out – not only does WOLF offer a ‘bottomless brunch’ with either their Aperol cocktail or takes on a Bloody Mary or Bellini, their cocktail menu is the stuff of dreams. Each drink was developed in house: the combination of cardamom-spiced rum, cinnamon and pineapple juice in the ‘Ananas Speziato’ (£9.00) was totally incredible.
WOLF also offers a dinner menu, so regardless of the time of day, you can savour a meal in a restaurant where food really is king.
Granary Square Brasserie, Kings Cross
If you haven’t done brunch at the Granary Square Brasserie – the new restaurant from the team behind The Ivy Collection -then get in now. Slap bang in the heart of Kings Cross, by the famous fountains next to Regent’s Canal, it’s the perfect pit stop to refuel in one of the City’s most vibrant locations.
It’s a place that celebrates, no, revels in its all-day dining concept seven days a week. The delicious all day brunch menu at weekends ranges from classic breakfast favourites such as home-made granola and Eggs Benedict, to an exquisite range of lighter offerings (think Crispy duck salad to Tuna Carpaccio) and more substantial meals (classic Fish Pie with salmon, cod and smoked haddock, a Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with roast vegetables and delicious steaks including an incredible Cote de Boeuf ). High on our recommendation list is The Hake – the best fish dish we’ve had in ages and the Shrimp and Scallop burger is to die for.
Go for the weekend brunch menu (until 4pm) and experience the resident DJ by the central cocktail bar in the heart of the restaurant as you settle into the sumptuous velvet banquette seats with a Bloody Mary. If dining ‘al fresco’ is your thing, check out the terrace for views across Regent’s Canal. With its coloured parasols you can almost believe you’re in the Riviera.
Pickled Fred, Shoreditch
What a little gem we’ve discovered hiding 20 seconds from Shoreditch’s Brick Lane. Opening in September Pickled Fred has been dishing up a new take on Asian food with dishes like the incredible roasted cauliflower or beef shin and bone marrow rending, there’s something for all – vegans, vegetarians, gluton-intolerants and carnivores. So we were extremely pleased to hear they’ve just launched a less than ordinary brunch menu available from 11:30 to 3pm. If you need a change from Eggs Benedict (as delicious as it is) how does this sound – Halloumi Fries with harissa yoghurt and pomegranate; Chermoula Aubergine with labneh, dukkah, pickled cherry tomatoes, rocket, feta and cous cous or a Jackfruit Scotch Egg that will make you seriously question how something that good and convincing could really be meat-free. Also on offer is a bottomless brunch for £25, you can have a flatbread of your choice with 90 minutes worth of unlimited Bloody Marys, Aperol Spritz or Prosecco.
Dishoom, Covent Garden
The bacon naan has become the stuff of brunch legend in London, with eager queues of early bird city dwellers vying for a table. Luckily they serve coffee in the queue.
The Social Pantry, Clapham
There’s a friendly neighbourhood feel to this chic, award-winning independent cafe on Lavender Hill. It’s also a great compromise if the group you’re meeting up with includes both a hungover pal in need of a salty fry-up and a virtuous yogi who’s been up since seven and wants to mainline some grains. From the ‘something filling’ section of the menu there’s delicious chai-spiced French toast and the full English ‘Pantry’ breakfast, while your yogi friend will love the super-C smoothie bowl.
Ask for Janice, Farringdon
Take an early morning stroll (or jog, dare we suggest?!) around the Barbican before heading to the quirky Ask for Janice for brunch, where you can order a breakfast burger in between taking pictures of the kooky but cool interiors.
The Continental Pantry, Notting Hill
Run by old pals Kate and Maria, The Continental Pantry serves food inspired by the pair’s upbringings in Madrid and London. Pop in first thing for some fresh, crunchy sourdough with butter and jam, or mashed avocado on toast with lemon and smoked salmon.
The party never really stops at this 8am – 3am breakfast/lunch/dinner/late night newcomer in the heart of Soho, and rightly so given the building’s history as the site of the old Marquee Club, where The Rolling Stones did their first ever live gig. Saturday brunch is a fun, buzzy affair where bottomless Prosecco is encouraged and the three-course menu mixes classic 11am favourites – smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – with dishes like harissa and agave roasted aubergine. Worth booking in for a long sitting.
Sexy Fish, Berkeley Square
Sometimes you need to go all out. And few places cater a more luxurious brunch than London’s hottest Asian eatery, Sexy Fish. The restaurant from the people who brought you The Ivy and J. Sheekey has launched a new brunch menu every Sunday, where the music, food and cocktails flow from 11.30 – 4pm (in case your hangover’s so bad you can’t face the world until mid-afternoon). There are plenty of bespoke twists on brunch classics to tempt you, like the asparagus egg and soldiers (above), but the real must-try is the ‘Sexy Benedict’, a spin on eggs benedict cut through with black charcoal muffin, lobster and truffle. It tastes and looks as decadent as it sounds.
Following an extensive refurbishment, Savile Row’s Sartoria re-opened its doors in late 2015 with a brand new breakfast menu to sink your teeth into. With classic Italian cooking – courtesy of renowned Italian chef Francesco Mazzai – our highlight has to be the Eggs Purgatorio, a rich egg baked in a spicy tomato sauce with freshly baked Italian breads on the side.
Village East, Bermondsey
While it may not be your usual breakfast dish, confit turkey hash with poached eggs and spinach has become a firm favourite at Village East. If you’d rather save turkey for Christmas, then you can order up their Campfire breakfast or the protein-filled Steak & Eggs breakfast right up until 4pm on the weekends.
Want to go out for brunch but love your dog too much to leave him / her at home? M Restaurants has launched a weekend ‘Dine With Your Dog’ brunch menu at their branch in Victoria, where you and your furry pal can kick off the day together with a two-course brunch and some bottomless bellinis (for you). If you want total immersion in the dog-dining experience you can even partake in the ‘six legs brunch’ menu, which features a specially tailored menu of two courses each – two for you, two for your dog (no Pedigree Chum, we promise), but if that sounds a little close to the bone (sorry) you can leave your dog to the four legs menu and tuck into some quinoa porridge, followed by waffles with maple butter. We took Piper (below) to try it out and she licked the bowl so much she pushed it across the room with her nose. The dog equivalent of a five-star review.
Lobster Bar, Richmond Road
Seafood lovers, rejoice! The Lobster Bar in Hackney serves up a variety of seafood brunches (beyond smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.) We recommend the indulgent Lobster Benedict.
Urban Coterie, Shoreditch
On the 17th floor of the futuristic M Building in Shoreditch – which has been built to look like a giant triangular optical illusion – Urban Coterie‘s ‘Brunch with a view’ let’s you tuck into your duck scrambled eggs and hot smoked salmon while looking out across the East London skyline. Designed by Urban Coterie’s Anthony Demetre, a three-course brunch includes bottomless mimosas for £32 (warning: if you’re tucking into the drinks the building will look even weirder on your way out.)
The Clifton, St John’s Wood
If you’re up north, dip off a side street on Abbey Road and make your way to The Clifton, a historic 19th century pub. While it was closed for a little while, it’s finally reopened as a modern gastropub and the menu is serious.You’ll get all the regular brunch staples with a dash of the uncommon – smoked hake, anybody? – and if you’re feeling truly decadent then you can kick off the affair with a cheeky oyster and perfectly spiced Bloody Mary. The portions are pretty major – we had the waffles served with crispy Dingley Dell Bacon and fried duck eggs (naturally topped off with a generous helping of maple syrup) and it could have probably fed two people. There’s no place better than their glass conservatory on a sunny day.
With branches in Notting Hill, Covent Garden, Chelsea and Smithfield, as well as the one that we tried in Soho, Polpo is gaining popularity and spreading fast thanks to its Venetian bàcaro menu. The brunch offering, which launched earlier this year, features delicious poached eggs and scafata, ricotta on toasted sourdoughs and brunch pizzettas. As in pizza for breakfast. Need we say more?
The best breakfasts London has to offer don’t always feature avocado and eggs. The Han Setto weekend brunch at ROKA is perfect if you’ve had enough of that to last you a lifetime. For £55 (which includes a bellini when you arrive and wine) or £39 if you’re off the booze, the brunch features some of the Japanese restaurant’s star dishes, like the raw salmon, avocado and wasabi tobiko maki and the beef, ginger and sesame dumplings. The first course is followed with a Japanese robata grill of fresh fish and meat and a dessert platter. Delish.
If the setting for you is just as important as the food, then the beautifully plush Ivy Kensington Brasserie is definitely the place to go if it’s a special occasion. The weekday breakfast and weekend brunch menus are full of classic dishes with some luxurious additions. Truffled eggs, anyone?
Berners Tavern, Berners Street
Step into The London EDITION for a taste of their renowned breakfast menu in a beautifully decorated restaurant. With high ceilings, walls covered in paintings and attentive waiters, this is a pretty special place to start the day. Sack off the healthy options (chilled citrus salad with ginger and lime is one) for the Hazelnut waffles, berries and cream.
Foxcroft & Ginger, Dalston, Soho and Whitechapel
With a working bakery downstairs you can just be ‘popping out to buy some bread’ when you head to Foxcroft & Ginger. And while you’re there picking up your sourdough or rye, you might as well try something from the incredible breakfast menu. All the egg dishes are spot on.
Italian-themed bar and restaurant Bunga Bunga has been running legendary party brunches in its Battersea branch for several years now. These generally feature loud music, a never-ending supply of prosecco and more breakfast-themed Italian food than you can finish, including the ‘Bunga Benedict’ and ‘Englishman’s Breakfast’ pizzas. If you’re not quite up for the noisy Battersea fiesta, Bunga Bunga’s Covent Garden sister restaurant BungaTINI has just launched a new ‘Wood-Fired Brunch’, which includes unlimited bellinis, wood-fired pizzas and a fun party atmosphere without the raucous crowd. Burrata for breakfast? Why not.
Bubbledogs, Charlotte Street
A really good hotdog is an underrated thing, perhaps unfairly getting less airtime than the ubiquitous burger. But champagne and hotdog joint Bubbledogs has been working to change all that since it launched in 2012, brainchild of Sandia Chang and her husband James Knappet, who now runs a Michelin starred restaurant called Kitchen Table at the back of the venue. This year Bubbledogs has branched out into the brunch market, teaming up with artisanal spirits company The86Co. for weekly brunch parties. There’s a Bloody Mary menu and the hotdogs are served with a sunny side up fried egg. We recommend the Jose (above) a hotdog topped with fresh tomato salsa, avocado, sour cream and pickled jalapenos.
Duck & Waffle, Heron Tower
With views stretching out over London, Duck & Waffle has become one of the most sought after reservations in the whole of the city. As the restaurant is open 24 hours, we suggest turning up before sunrise (whether that’s straight from bed or straight from the club) and settling in for breakfast with a view. Tip: order the restaurant’s eponymous dish, put it on Instagram and you’ll probably get a comment or two from the chefs. The new version of ‘compliments to the chef.’
Fantastical, photogenic and bloody well brilliant, sketch may be a little bit out of your budget to become your ‘regular’ but this is definitely a place you can name-drop and Instagram to your heart’s content, which is what most of us want these days from a meal out, isn’t it? Once you’re there, you might as well hang around for their equally brilliant Afternoon Tea.
Bel-Air, Paul Street
Billed as ‘feel good fast food’, Bel-Air founder Andrew Bredon aims to bring a bit of LA to EC2. The cafe serves up a selection of breakfast pots, including their appropriately named Muscle Beach which has grilled steak, smokey spinach, sweet potato and a poached egg. Perfect for those wanting to make some #GymGainz.
Andina, Redchurch Street
Currently daydreaming about spending your days on a beach somewhere with a wildly good looking man fanning you? Take a trip to Peru (while staying in Shoreditch) at Martin Morales’ Andina where you can eat Granola Andina and greek yoghurt or Peruanazo which is two fried eggs, tacu-tacu with rice and butterbeans, belly bacon and saltado criollo. Who needs the bright blue shores of Mancora?
Berber&Q, East London
With a permanent queue snaking outside of its door, Berber&Q has become the hot brunch spot in town. A newly launched menu will further cement its reputation for being one of the best places to start the day. We suggest getting there early.
BunnyChow, Wardour Street
South African Street Food concept BunnyChow serves up a particularly delicious veggie breakfast option with salsa beans, aubergine, peppers, spice-kicked red onions and a fried egg. Enough to tempt even the strongest carnivores.
Busaba Eathai, Soho
Busaba Eathai’s new brunch menu features coconut porridge, fisherman’s spiced rice and their so-called ‘perfect hangover cure’ – the Busaba Bloody Mary and Khai luak. We’re told that Khai luak is a soft boiled free range egg with a gentle Thai seasoning which is stirred and then taken as a shot followed by a Bloody Mary chaser… we’ll be leaving that one to someone more hardcore.
Brew, Putney and Clapham
While Brew do an incredible take on Turkish Eggs, we’re more likely to order the soft-boiled eggs with soldiers – which come with a choice of Marmite or Vegemite, may we add – as an homage to our childhood days spent dipping soldiers into runny yolk.
Casa Brindisa, South Kensington
One of the best tapas restaurants around, Casa Brindisa also serves up a mean breakfast and brunch. Try their mushrooms, scrambled eggs, tomato and Manchego or just order like there’s no tomorrow and scoff a whole plate of Iberico ham yourself. We won’t judge you.
Carluccio’s, various locations
Probably not the first place you may think of when your best friend suggests ‘breakfast?’, but Carluccio’s has got a pretty substantial morning menu and one you should definitely try out. With their handy little deli you can also pick up some lunch while you’re there. Easy like Sunday morning and all that…
Eelbrook, New King’s Road
A favourite spot with the Chelsea lot, Eelbrook’s brunch should ideally be eaten al fresco on the terrace overlooking London’s Eel Brook Common so you can people-watch as you munch. We love the Baked Tilley’s Eggs with tomato, yoghurt, harissa and grilled flatbreads – a London brunch with a Middle Eastern twist.
Farm Girl, Portobello Road
Make like Julia Roberts and head to Notting Hill for a breakfast with a twist at Farm Girl. With naturopathic doctor (nope, us neither) Melly Lou of Liquorice Lifestyle advising on nutrition for the menu, you can guarantee you’ll come home feeling grrrreat.
Granger & Co, various locations
Go healthy with the slick Granger & Co by ordering one of their fruit and grains dishes with a smoothie; we’re a big fan of the buckwheat bowl.
OPSO, Paddington Street
With a full range of breakfast dishes going on, OPSO is one of the most loved brunch and breakfast places in the Marylebone area (and, for that matter, the city). You can either choose to start your day off right with their Earl grey infused rice porridge or one of the granola dishes or indulge your naughty side with the pancakes. We like them covered in praline spread and hazelnuts.
Ottolenghi, Various Locations
Famous around London for being one of the best delis around, Ottolenghi serves up a mean breakfast. While the whole menu is great, it would be wrong to go there and not order their signature Shakshuka. It’s seriously tasty.
Providores, Marylebone High Street
As one of the first restaurants to bring brunch to the capital, Providores pulls a big crowd and regularly has a queue of hungry punters outside. They’ll all be ordering Peter Gordon’s signature breakfast dish, the Turkish Eggs.
Street Kitchen, Parkgate Road
Street Kitchen on the Broadgate Circle is run by Jun Tanaka and Mark Jankel with a mission to serve up ‘slow food, fast.’ Pick up a Caravan Roosters coffee from the barista before stuffing your face with one of their SkMuffins with farm sourced ingredients.
The Jam Tree, Clapham
The Jam Tree does classics with a twist (where doesn’t these days?). We suggest ordering the black pudding, apple and chutney on toast as well as one of their nine variants on a Bloody Mary.
The Modern Pantry, Clerkenwell
Another name on the tip of every foodie Londoner’s tongue, The Modern Pantry is a place for those who like their breakfast healthy. We’d go for the Honey roast oats, seeds and nuts with grated apple, pomegranate and greek yoghurt if we were that way inclined… you know, you could just eat their less healthy sugar-cured omelette.
Tredwells, Upper St Martin’s Lane
Marcus Wareing’s informal restaurant in Covent Garden has a great brunch/breakfast offering with cheat day treats such as caramelized banana eggy bread with bacon, maple syrup or chorizo jam and slow cooked egg, avocado and toasted sourdough. If you’re sticking to the diet plan then you can order granola or a seasonal veggie frittata.
Whaam Banh Mi, Great Windmill Street
If you’ve got a sweet tooth from the moment you wake up then Whaam Banh Mi have got you covered. Chocoholics should order the fresh, daily baked Banh Mi smothered in Nutella.
Isn’t London amazing you can now enjoy the best of Latin American cuisine as a bottomless champagne brunch. London’s first Peruvian restaurant that opened to critical acclaim in 2012 has launched a brand new menu including their new signature brunch cocktail the ‘Pisco Mary’. Dine on Peruvian dishes such as Corvina Trufa (Corvina ceviche with truffle) and Arroz Nikkei (Chilean sea bass casuela) created by Executive Chef, Sanjay Dwivedi and served in the South American inspired dining room. As the DJ plays chilled house you can relax while the in-house nanny keeps the kids entertained (Sundays only FYI). Situated opposite Green Park and 5 minute walk from Bond Street it’s the perfect location to take a break from some serious window shopping.
London best English breakfast
Two of our favourite spots for a trad fry-up…
Bibendum, Fulham Road
There’s a bit of a story behind this one so bear with us: Bibendum is named after the Michelin man (yes, the Michelin man). He’s actually known as Monsieur Bibendum, a name which comes from the Latin phrase Nunc est Bibendum which translates as ‘now is the time to drink’. While this may be a slightly inappropriate name for a mascot used to advertise car tyres, it’s a bloody great name for a restaurant. With all that in mind, we’d recommend heading there for the two most important Bs in life: breakfast and a Bloody Mary.
Parlour, Regent Street
Parlour’s quirky breakfast menu features classics such as smoked salmon with scrambled eggs as well as their full English Parlour Breakfast. You can also DIY at their toast station with some fresh baked bread.
Have you got a favourite breakfast place in London? Tell us in the comments section below.