By Rachel Korsunsky —
May 28, 2015 —
Over the past few years, brunch in London has become its own kind of religion. Instead of going to church, herds of carbohydrate and mimosa-loving devotees flock to pancake and bacon houses as part of their weekly ritual. They talk about finding the spiciest Bloody Mary or the freshest New York bagel with a reverence that sometimes borders on the other-worldly.
I get it. Like them, I am a big believer in the power of a first-class brunch. Recently, I spent some time in England’s capital, and I was able to seek out the best that the city has to offer. What follows is my suggested 3-day itinerary for sampling the best brunch in London.
DAY ONE: The Breakfast Club
This place has multiple locations, and you will wait in line at all of them. I went to the original locale in Soho and waited 30 minutes for a table. Trust me, it’s worth it. The interior design of the Breakfast Club is very unusual — a cross between a witty hipster’s living room and a 70’s yard sale. I liked it a lot. Think twice before bringing your conservative great aunt here, however, because the chalkboards are ripe with sexual innuendo. One of my favorites: “What has little balls and gets old ladies’ numbers? A Bingo Game.”
I ordered the “Veggie All American” pancakes, which came with pancakes, veggie sausage, home-style fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, and mushrooms. A friend ordered the “All American Pancakes,” which were the same as mine but with bacon. The eggs were fluffy and light, and the potatoes were perfect and crunchy. Our only complaint was that the portion size might have been a little more generous. The pancakes were some of the best I have had in a while. We each also drank a Blue Monday smoothie. I would score the Breakfast Club a perfect 10 out of 10.
DAY TWO: Jackson + Rye
The menu at this place was quite overwhelming — I honestly wanted absolutely everything on it. After waiting for approximately 10 minutes, we were seated at the best spot in the house, right by the front windows. (Side note: We were here during London Fashion Week so people watching was like entering a parallel universe. One woman wore a dress made of baby doll heads). Generally speaking, however, there is nothing exceptional about the interior decor at Jackson+ Rye.
Many items sounded fantastic, such as baked pumpkin and ricotta ravioli, but we felt these were not brunch-y enough for our tastes. I ended up ordering the “Angler’s”: scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, country style potatoes, and grilled toast. The eggs were definitely better at The Breakfast Place, but it was a toss up between the potatoes. Again, I felt that portions were too small, but it also might have been that maybe I just like to eat a lot. My friend ordered pancakes with a side of maple slab bacon, which did not look like bacon at all. They were thick, savory and juicy. I didn’t try them, but she claimed it was the best “bacon” she had ever tasted. In fact, she raved about her choice for the rest of the day.
DAY THREE: Camden Market
THIS PLACE IS HEAVEN ON EARTH. I WANTED TO STAY IN CAMDEN MARKET FOREVER. If you visit London and do not go to Camden Market, well, as far as I’m concerned, you didn’t go to London. Camden Market is actually a flea market, but if you walk to the far end, there is a large open-air food market.
They sell absolutely everything here — and I mean everything: paella, dutch pancakes, Ethiopian coffee, traditional Polish kielbasa, Cuban tapas, South African delicacies, the list goes on and on. We walked in circles for nearly 90 minutes trying to settle on a meal. At every booth we passed, a vendor shoved free samples under our noses. I was not complaining. The sight and smell of fresh food was absolutely stunning.
I ended up settling on a mixed chicken/beef kebab with rice and pita, which I know is not traditional brunch food, but it was so good I think I cried mid-meal. My friend got dutch pancakes with Nutella and bananas. Afterwards, I embarked on the nearly impossible mission of picking a dessert. There were well over a dozen stands devoted to beautiful mushy brownies, sweet cakes, hot cookies, etc. I picked a red velvet fruit cake with cream cheese frosting. Absolutely divine.
All in all, brunch in London was an adventure of the senses. Even 20 pounds later, I have zero regrets.
Who else has tried brunch there? What are some of your favorite places?