I love weekend brunch. Back when we lived in California, Keenan and I would catch up with friends over eggs benedict, French Toast, and a strong cuppa of Peets coffee. We miss the Provencal-style brunch at La Note in Berkeley, the ever-popular Bette's Diner on 4th Street, the American-style breakfast at Rockridge Cafe, and the homemade granola at Cafe Fanny on rough-around-the edges San Pablo Avenue.
When I first moved to London some three years ago, I was sorely disappointed about the brunch scene in London. It just wasn't the same as San Francisco. Here in the U.K., weekend 'brekkie' is generally known as the artery-clogging 'Full English' consisting of fried eggs, sausage, bacon, baked beans, mushrooms, potatoes, tomato, and black pudding. It's heavy and I find myself on the verge of passing out after my Sunday "brekkie." Over the past year, however, several excellent brunch places have opened up in London. I've been doing my best to try out as many places with my fellow brunch buddies. Below are some of my favorites.
St. Ali (27 Clerkenwell Rd, London EC1M 5RN) - An excellent addition to the restaurant scene in Clerkenwell. The second outpost of this Melbourne-based cafe exudes the cool, laid-back vibe Aussies are known for. The restaurant is spread over two floors with an in-house roastery, exposed brick walls, and large communal tables. My friend and I met for brunch here last weekend and the place was buzzing with great energy. We both enjoyed the scrambled eggs with grilled haloumi, tomato salad, and a large cup of flat white.
Modern Pantry, 48 St. John's Square, London EC1V 4JJ - Another great restaurant in the Clerkenwell neighbourhood. Food aside, which is simply delicious, I just adore the interior design in this converted Georgian building. The downstairs dining room is light and airy with lovely touches of copper pendants and antique traiteur. I normally order savory dishes but I couldn't resist the ricotta pancakes with milked berry compote and creme fraiche...heavenly.
Ottolenghi, 287 Upper St, London N1 2TZ - Great spot on Upper Street in Angel, and hands down one of my favorite brunch places in London. Tasty seasonal Mediterranean-inspired salads. I love the Dualit toasters on the table top during brunch where you can toast your own bread. A killer wait but well worth it.
The Table Cafe, 83 Southwark Street, London SE1 0HX - I met a high school friend here whom I hadn't seen since graduation. She had just arrived to London for graduate school. Since she had planned on visiting the Tate Modern, I suggested we meet at The Table Cafe for American-style pancakes. Minimalist design with an open kitchen and a smallish outdoor patio. In keeping with its philosophy, The Table Cafe sources its produce locally and coffee from Monmouth, no less!
Nopi, 21-22 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NE - From the same team of Ottolenghi, this is an upscale restaurant tucked away on Warwick Street in busy Soho. Gorgeous interior design, even the ladies room was ultra plush. The breakfast menu was small but everything was well executed, again blending flavours and textures from Ottolenghi's Middle Eastern background. My brunch partner ordered the North African braised eggs, while I had the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toasted focaccia. Lovely place for a sophisticated weekend brunch.
Looking forward to visiting my next brunch destination...