For the English, breakfast is a patriotic affair – there’s a reason the beloved fry-up is called a ‘Full English’ and not just a ‘Full Breakfast’. Whether fuelling a busy day ahead or an attempt to rid you of your hangover, there’s not much the humble fried egg/bacon/beans combo can’t fix. In celebration of Breakfast Week (24th-30th January), we have rounded up London’s best breakfasts; from the iconic greasy spoon to the civilised New York-style brasserie, we have it covered. And, of course, we’ve included a few Antipodean brunches for those of us who are late-risers – or like to think we’re more hip/exotic/famous on Instagram than we actually are.
Dignified New York/French brasserie
With its old-school brasserie feel, Balthazar’s breakfast is equally as good for early-morning business, weekend brunch, birthdays and celeb-spotting. Weekday breakfast is served from 7.30am until 11am (just as breakfast should be) with a more leisurely timetable of 10am-4pm at the weekend. For an authentic Petit Dejeuner you can’t go wrong with a warm ham and cheese croissant (freshly baked in the boulangerie next door), americano and orange juice but the menu includes eggs cooked however you wish, hazelnut waffles and New York pancakes if you’re a bit more hungry. Feeling lazy? The boulangerie will deliver to your desk from 8.30am.
Fry ups and formica
The reviews don’t lie. Used as the set of Layer Cake, Brighton Rock and LK Bennett’s S/S ‘14 campaign, Regency Cafe is all gingham curtains, laminated tables and brown plastic chairs; it’s iconic, it’s authentic and it will definitely cure your hangover. You’ll find pinstriped-businessmen, Westminster politicians and black cabbies all there for a proper white mug of tea and good old full English.
Man vs Food style meat feast
Constantly ‘up there’ on lists of London’s best breakfasts, the Hawksmoor Guildhalls’ full English is one for the bucket list. Bankers swarm for the meaty goodness you’d expect from a steakhouse – you can get steak and eggs – and arrive with a particularly empty stomach. The famous sharing breakfast for 2 includes everything you’d expect (bacon, sausages, baked beans, fried eggs, tomatoes…) as well as slightly more rogue grilled bone marrow. HP gravy and unlimited toast completes this breakfast of champions.
Innovative take on the full English
Bunnychow is the name of the hollowed out loafs of bread, traditionally filled with curry and served as fast food in native South Africa. A bit closer to home, Bunny Chow on Soho’s Wardour Street are celebrating breakfast week with their award-winning ‘British Breakfast Bunny’; sausage, beans, bacon, black pudding and fried egg in your choice of bread. Sound a bit heavy? Try the ‘Yogurt Brioche Bunny’ for a brioche loaf stuffed full of low fat Greek yogurt, walnuts and raisins then topped with red berries or orange and strawberries. Bye bye boring porridge, hello loaded loaf.
High rise and shine
Start your day on a high with breakfast at Aqua Shard. It’s not cheap but it’s worth it for the view – especially if you’re up there to watch the sun rise. Make the experience extra special with a lobster egg benedict or for a more familiar breakfast, their ‘greasy spoon’ offerings. Aqua Shard have excelled in their drinks menu – a whole array of freshly squeezed juices, virgin cocktails and three new morning elixirs will certainly send you on your way. Feeling daring? The Sunny Side Up contains rum, Grand Marnier, custard cream and lemon juice and is served with a fried egg on toast. Probably best to avoid before work…
Where: Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9RY, United Kingdom
Nearest station: London Bridge (0.1 miles)
Gluten-free eggs benedict and quinoa porridge
Replace your weakly-brewed builders tea with a matcha latte and your haphazardly buttered slice of toast with skinny eggs benedict on German rye or gluten-free toast. The Good Life Eatery is where the health-obsessed flock for their almond milk coffee so they’re used to genuine dietary intolerances as well as those who choose a slightly healthier lifestyle. Breakfast here is no less hearty than other offerings; paleo chestnut and almond waffles and poached eggs with quinoa, kale and sweet potato will definitely fill you up.
Even though Riding House Cafe serves breakfast from 7.30am on weekdays, this is an all-day offering. Regardless of what time you rolled out of bed, the coffee machine will be ready and waiting and the avos ready to mash. Even if you’re firmly in the muffin/hollandaise/poached egg tribe then the buttermilk pancakes are hard to beat – they’re huge and they’re light and along with clotted cream and maple syrup comes fresh berries to make you think you’re being a little bit healthier than you actually are.
Hungry Donkey describe themselves as serving simple and authentic Greek street food to the hungry hipsters of east London. Egg dishes are imaginative and breakfast is served all day, we like the sound of Strapatsada – eggs scrambled with tomato, mizithra cheese, basil and olive oil. If you crave carbs for breakfast you can’t go wrong with a filled sourdough sandwich or filo pastry pie. The Spanakopita (spinach in filo pastry) is particularly good and it’s worth ordering for the name alone.
All the old-school favourites
A well-dressed crowd make up the civilised buzz of The Delaunay’s dining room. The kedgeree is filling, lightly spiced with curry powder and topped with a poached egg and kippers are reminiscent of mornings spent with our grandparents. Contemporary breakfast lovers can’t go wrong with scrambled eggs wrapped in a swirl of smoked salmon or the mysteriously named eggs Arlington which is their Dutch take on the eggs royale. Served from 7am in the week, 8am on Saturdays and 9am on Sundays, The Delaunay is one for those who want their hollandaise fix ASAP.
The cult breakfast destination
It has ‘breakfast’ in its name so it’s only right to give The Breakfast Club a mention. The weekend queues are a reminder of how loved it is but if you’d rather be seated straight away then visit at off-peak hours (try mid afternoon). The menu is grouped into Club Classics, Eggs, Benedict, Pancakes and Fruits/Oats but that doesn’t make choosing any easier. The extensive brunch menu is refined after 5pm but you can still get the main culprits if you haven’t got round to it earlier in the day.
Free coffee during Breakfast Week
Although popular for lunch and dinner, Fitzrovia spot Percy & Founders serve breakfast from 7.30am-11.30am on weekdays and 9pm at the weekend. The type of place you’d be as happy sitting solo with a newspaper as you would for a power breakfast with a client, omelettes, bircher muesli and the compulsory egg-related offerings can be enjoyed throughout Breakfast Week with a complimentary Reads coffee.
You are as likely to find partygoers in Polo Bar as you are businessmen in the small hours, all equally as thankful that somewhere like this exists during their time of need. It’s not particularly glamorous but it’s not in full-on caff territory and when you’re tucking into a huge Breakfast Club sandwich, who really cares? Tucking your napkin down your shirt is optional, but recommended – a splat of ketchup doesn’t look particularly professional in the board room. Can’t leave the office? Polo Bar deliver breakfast from 6.30am-11.30am.