There was a time when a daily meal plan consisted of breakfast, lunch and dinner, collectively known as ‘three square meals a day’.
Most popular of all was the Sunday roast, more lavish and sociable than mid-week meals. As well as the food it was an event - an opportunity for family and friends to unite after a busy week.
Then we discovered the beauty that is brunch. Although not new, it has in recent years become a huge trend especially at weekends, and for some has overtaken the Sunday roast in popularity.
The word brunch is a clever blend of breakfast and lunch - the word has even made it into the Oxford dictionary - and is typically eaten between 11am and 3pm.
In London it is a much-loved institution with many cafes, pubs, restaurants and even top London hotels now offering a brunch menu and it’s normal to see long queues forming mid-morning outside a favourite brunch venue.
Origins of today’s brunch
Although it’s now a modern-day food phenomenon, brunch actually originated in England in the late 19th century, and became popular in the United States in the 1930s.
Its origins are still uncertain. Some say it stems from the Catholic tradition of fasting before Sunday mass and then combining breakfast and lunch before a large afternoon roast. Or It may have originated from English “hunt breakfasts” where lavish feasts were served after the hunt.
Maybe it was a hangover cure allowing for both a lie-in after an evening of partying and time to build a hearty appetite.
Whatever its origins, it’s a magical mix of two of the best mealtimes of the day and the beauty of brunch is that it combines sweet foods like muffins and pastries with savoury dishes like smashed avocado on soda bread with chilli or traditional bacon and eggs. It’s sometimes accompanied by champagne or a cocktail or strong coffee, a fruit smoothie or a bloody Mary.
In London especially, brunch has a cosmopolitan feel and it’s a great opportunity to try breakfast with a twist like Mexican salsa with eggs on fajitas or lime and apple muesli with quinoa.
Book yourself a brunch
Below is a list of some of London’s best brunch venues. There are hundreds more, so search the internet for the area you are staying in or check out brunch menus at your local cafe.
Kensington & Chelsea
Try the famous Bluebird on King's Road, SW3 where you can enjoy oysters, seared tuna, and salt and pepper squid.
Sette at Knightsbridge Green, SW1 combines a three- or four-course Italian feast accompanied by relaxing live music.
Daylesford Organic Farmshop & Café Pimlico Road, SW1 is ideal for an organic brunch. Try field mushrooms on sourdough with poached eggs.
Where The Pancakes Are at Southwark Bridge Rd, SE1 (also in Fitzrovia W1) is best for American pancakes. Try one made with goat's cheese, rosemary and thyme.
The Duck & Waffle at Bishopsgate, EC2 has a great brunch menu and great views being 40 floors up the Heron Tower.
Ozone, Emma Street, E2 and Leonard Street, EC2 has a great twist on classics - try eggs Benedict on bubble-and-squeak cakes.
No 32 The Old Town, SW4 has a first-floor roof terrace with lovely views over Clapham Common.
Megans (in various locations including Clapham SW4 and Balham SW12) serves quirky plates like shakshoumi baked eggs or scrambled turmeric tofu.
The Perky Nel, SW4 serves a traditional English Sunday roast in a cosy, dog-friendly setting.
So book a brunch - no weekend morning is complete otherwise and it’s a perfect excuse for a long lie-in after the night before!