Brunch — just thinking about it makes your shoulders drop a little. It’s not a hastily grabbed espresso you down as you run out the door for work or a piece of toast you absentmindedly nosh on while scanning your emails. It’s a chance to slow down and savor something delicious.
Every major city boasts a dizzying array of places to enjoy this marvelous morning pastime. From trendy, laidback joints to polished silver affairs, here are our picks from London’s brunch bunch.
Duck & Waffle
For a brunch to match whatever time zone you’re operating on (and ridiculously good views to boot), head 40 floors up to Duck & Waffle — coined the “highest 24/7 restaurant in London.”
Breakfast is served from 6 a.m. and the weekend brunch menu is available until 3:30 p.m., so there’s a big window to choose from, and even bigger ones to look out from. While sunset is particularly magical, the sweeping vistas spanning the British capital and beyond are just as good and served all day.
Order the eponymous signature dish (an indulgent combination of confit duck leg and fried duck egg on a waffle with mustard maple syrup) and see how many landmarks you can spot.
You’ll need to reserve ahead for a weekday table at this Fitzrovia restaurant tucked inside Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The London Edition, for it’s a popular morning meeting hub for the media types who work nearby.
But don’t let that put you off — it’s also one of the most striking sites in the neighborhood, thanks to gorgeous plasterwork and walls decked top to bottom with ornately framed art. If Tate Britain served brunch in its galleries, it would feel a little like this.
Under the guidance of acclaimed chef Jason Atherton, the crave-worthy menu features choice British ingredients — bread from Borough Market, lamb from a farm in Cumbria, black pudding from Scotland — delivered through the usual failsafe breakfast options.
You can’t go wrong with poached eggs and avocado on sourdough or the full English spread, if you fancy something heartier before embarking on a shopping spree in Soho and the West End.
Sometimes an occasion calls for somewhere particularly special with white tablecloths, polished silverware and equally impeccable service. Enter The Wolseley, the suave café-restaurant that sits beside The Ritz London at the end of Piccadilly where it meets Green Park.
Such is this opulent eatery’s reputation and stature that you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s been operating forever, yet it only opened in 2003 (though the building itself dates back to the 1920s, when it was a car showroom).
Under a vaulted stone ceiling amid polished marble, nibble on buttery croissants made fresh daily, classics such as eggs Benedict and specialties like fried haggis and duck eggs with whisky sauce.
For an indulgent finish, order The Wolseley Imperial, a latte with cognac and chocolate-drizzled whipped cream.
Continue the luxurious theme with a stroll through the Royal Parks, peruse of the high-end designer boutiques on Bond Street or pop into another London icon on the same road, Fortnum & Mason.
Bryn Williams at Somerset House
Saturday at 10 a.m. is the best time to visit this restaurant tucked into the South Wing of cultural hub Somerset House. It’ll guarantee you one of the best seats in the house: window-side leather banquettes overlooking the Thames.
In this cozy dining room setting with dabbled blue walls, nautical fixtures and still-life oil paintings of enticing fruits and vegetables, you can dine heartily on seasonal, plant-based plates. Though, there’s plenty to keep carnivores satiated, too.
Start with a mezcal-spiked bloody mary, then tuck leisurely into cast-iron dishes of baked eggs with spinach and Iberico chorizo, or buttermilk waffles topped with cinnamon and wild berries.
Afterward, walk it off with a trip across Waterloo Bridge to the Southbank, stopping midway to savor views of the Houses of Parliament in one direction and the city skyline and St Paul’s Cathedral in the other.
On an otherwise nondescript street in East London across from London Fields park is this rather lovely brunch spot. Long wooden tables topped with pretty potted plants add warmth to the smooth concrete shell, while shelves lined with multi-colored jars of pickles and preserves offer a hint at this place’s forte for fermented foods and drinks.
It’s a popular weekend destination with the locals, so you’d be wise to stop in at 10 a.m. (opening time) on the dot, especially in the summer.
The menu tweaks according to the seasons, but there are regular favorites to look out for, such as the “Beirut breakfast,” which consists of toasty flatbread topped with sweet pistachio dukka (a nut-based dip) and honey-drizzled labneh (Greek-style yogurt). Pair your plate with a flat white or breakfast cocktail to set yourself up for the day.
If it’s cold out, opt for the sourdough bap (bun). Packed with a bright yolky egg, bacon, garlicky greens and chili mayo, this hearty bite will warm you up and put a smile on your face. Combine a visit here with a dip in the London Fields Lido — an Olympic-sized heated outdoor pool — and you’ll be living like a Hackney local.
The Swedes have a name for the act of catching up with friends over coffee and buns: fika. Partake in this storied tradition at one of the outposts of this Stockholm-based chain, which now has five outposts across London. The cozy, Instagrammable bakeries with a handful of wooden tables make for a charming casual brunch backdrop.
Order up a classic Swedish cinnamon bun: knotted layers of soft, sweet bread you can tear off and dip gingerly into your cup of creamy cappuccino. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try the cardamom version — it shouldn’t work, but it does.
As celiacs will attest, eating out for brunch isn’t always a fun, indulgent affair. Special diets are increasingly well-catered for on the whole, but it usually involves prior research, scrutinizing menus and interrogating waitstaff for the fine details on dishes.
Enter this 100 percent gluten-free haven, which has branches in Fitzrovia, Islington and Selfridges. From smoked bacon and maple-syrup-topped French toast to the full Beyond Breakfast (eggs, bacon, baked beans, mushroom and sausage) and lighter options like banana bread with yogurt and honey, you can brunch heartily with peace of mind here.