What? Brunch with sweeping views of London isn’t unheard of but that doesn’t stop it being impressive. There’s just something about seeing London from up high that pales even the best of ground-floor brunches, even if Aviary is only the 10th floor.
New? Aviary opened at the end of last year, as part of the ETM Group which includes Burdock (on the ground floor) and the newest addition, Greenwood, over in Nova Victoria.
Where? 10th Floor, Montcalm Royal London House, 22-25 Finsbury Square, Moorgate, EC2A 1DX, www.aviarylondon.com
On the Menu: Brunch is more of an all-day affair at Aviary, with a hearty a la carte menu meaning if you want a 3-course meal, you can have a 3-course meal, from midday-4.30pm, Saturday and Sunday. Traditional brunch dishes come in the form of eggs (‘whatever eggs’ on toast), bacon butties and crumpets with some indulgence in the sweeter dishes – pancakes and French toast.
First Impressions: Tucked away in the corner of Finsbury Square, you get the same warm hotel welcome that you would get if you were staying in the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel itself. Walk on through to the lifts and you’ll emerge on the 10th floor into a buzzing bar and impressive terrace with views across to the Gherkin, Heron Tower and Walkie Talkie. There were plenty of tables empty when we visited at midday on Saturday but seeing as it’s a City destination, and a bank holiday, I was slightly expecting it. By the time we had finished our food the terrace was packed and many more of the tables inside were busy too.
The Look: As the name suggests, there is a bird-theme to the interiors, with a giant peacock the centre of attention as you arrive. Floor-to-ceiling windows mean you can gaze out at the skyline even if you’re not right on the edge and a huge brass-clad bar in the centre of the room does its best to steal the show. The real star of the show though is the loos. Make sure you pay a visit for unobstructed views – your guest may wonder where you’ve got to.
What We Ate: Brunch calls for the classics. As enticing as French toast, blood orange, crème fraiche and candied walnuts sounds you can’t really beat Eggs Royale. Here it came drowned in thick hollandaise sauce (I’m a huge hollandaise fan but even this defeated me) and perfectly runny yolks. It’s a dish easy to get wrong yet hard to elevate to another level so here it was as I’d hoped for. My guest went a little more adventurous with kiln smoked salmon crumpet, served with two big dollops of chive cream cheese. The salmon was flaked rather than smoked which was unexpected but it made a nice change from the more predictable Eggs Royale.
Because it was lunch time and because we’d shunned the 3-courses in favour of more brunch appropriate dishes, we shared a pudding. Sticky toffee pudding looked as though it had come from a totally different restaurant – yes, crumpets and English muffins are hard to present in any imaginative way but the pudding was elegant and photogenic, with a quenelle of ice cream, tonka crumb and dots of toffee sauce on the plate. It tasted as good as you’d hope too, with cubes of spiced apple presented into neat scoops.
What We Drank: The bank holiday obviously calls for celebration so we toasted in the weekend with Bloody Marys and the bar’s signature ‘Not a Cosmopolitan’ made with Tanqueray gin, St Germain elderflower, Mondino and lime; refreshing and easy to drink. Coffee did the job but it certainly wasn’t the best flat white I’ve ever had, proving my point that flat whites should be reserved for hipster coffee shops.
Go With: The weekend brunch undoubtedly attracts a different crowd to the city slickers during the week. That said, Aviary offers something for everyone be it an early-morning meeting or drinks after work so pick your time of day and go from there.
Final Word: Sky high dining is hard to beat so if you’ve conquered all the street-level brunches then it’s time to take it up a notch. Visit early afternoon and with a full appetite so you have room for the feast that awaits.
Like This? Try These? Urban Coterie, Oblix, Boundary
Aviary: 10th Floor, Montcalm Royal London House, 22-25 Finsbury Square, Moorgate, EC2A 1DX, www.aviarylondon.com