Your guide to north London’s best brunch spots
PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 May 2016
Author Laura Herring shares her favourite spots for a late morning meal from her new café guide.
Wander the streets of London on a weekend morning, and you’ll never be far away from a plate of perfectly mashed avocado on toast, or a round of reassuringly named breakfast cocktails.
It seems as though everyone’s weekend plans now involve a brunch date, but why has late-breakfast-into-lunch become the weekend activity across the capital?
First up, brunch celebrates the versatility of a generally more relaxed weekend schedule.
Whether you’ve just rolled out of bed after a heavy night, are (smugly) on your way back from an early morning yoga class, or have been up since 5am with your new baby, brunchtime comes exactly when you need it. And it can mean all things to all people.
You can enjoy a virtuous bowl of nutty granola with berry compote at Caravan King’s Cross, or at the other end of the greedy scale, indulge in an outrageous tower of fried chicken and waffles with a side bucket of maple syrup at The Lockhart near Marble Arch.
Or choose from pretty much anything in-between, from a classic bacon butty to wholesome quinoa porridge with bee pollen, a full English or even a steak and chips. The impressive range of the brunchtime menu means that whatever you’ve brought to the table – be it your hangover, a toddler, or, heaven help you, both – your morning needs can be met and fully satisfied.
When your group finds themselves at different life stages, brunch brings the gang back together – the singles, the marrieds, the new parents and the more experienced mums and dads can all gather round for late breakfast like old times of hanging out in dark, sticky-floored bars. Whether you’ve been out until 4am or you most definitely have not, we all need to eat. And with our groups of friends expanding and changing together, everyone, from the Primrose Hill set at the Greenberry Café to the vintage craft-lovers of The Haberdashery in Crouch End, is choosing weekend brunch over Sunday lunch (or even a drunken night at the pub), to mark the end of the week and the start of a new one with their urban families.
A perfect time to catch up on the latest news from their closest circle. And the beauty of brunch is it can be as boozy as you like, and no one will judge you either way. You can sip on a green power smoothie or knock back those margaritas and everyone’s having a good time.
That brunch reservations tend to be easier to secure than dinner dates, means choosing breakfast over dinner let’s you more easily (and often more cheaply) tick off your endless to-eat list and try out those hard-to-book places.
Start the day in the company of those with far glossier hair and better wardrobes than you at Marylebone’s Chiltern Firehouse, now having secured itself as one of the London elite’s regular hotspots.
You can pick up some tips on how to be perfectly groomed as you eat your black truffle scrambled eggs and sip on a hibiscus Champagne cocktail. Just don’t stare.
Brunch is also more deliciously relaxed than dinner, allowing you (and its chefs) to be more adventurous with your flavours. Marylebone’s Honey & Co. serves up Middle Eastern meets European treats in the form of merguez sausage rolls, green shakshuka, dinosaur eggs (!) and a window display of sweet cakes and bakes to follow.
At Clerkenwell’s The Modern Pantry you can enjoy tea-smoked salmon, a Persian chicken burger with cassava chips, or eggs with yuzu-flavoured Hollandaise in the comfort of a beautiful Grade II-listed townhouse.
But mostly, perhaps, brunch is a local event. Wherever you live, there will be a favourite haunt serving up eggs and coffee, exactly the way you like them. You don’t need to go far to find brunch made just for you.
London’s Best Brunches by Laura Herring published by Smith Street Books priced £12.99.