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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Brunch, Brunch, Brunch

Literally. Brunch, brunch, brunch. One benefit of falling a bit behind on writing up places is the ability to then group together a bunch of brunches. Hooray for tardiness!

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First up, brunch at Brunswick House in Vauxhall where it is actually labelled as "Weekend Lunch". Pipe down at the back. Lunch, brunch, brunch didn't have the same ring to it.

Vauxhall doesn't have a lot going for it, food and drink wise, and it's a pretty ugly place by all accounts. Dirty Burger was a welcome addition in 2013, but not somewhere to sit and enjoy a meal. There are really only two places worth going - Italo Deli in Bonnington Square, and Brunswick House (ask Marina), both of which are run by members of the talented Boxer family who are also responsible for the absurdly popular Frank's Café in Peckham.

Italo Deli in Bonnington Square - owned by Charlie Boxer, father of Jackson

Lassco (an architectural salvage firm that you know from Maltby St. Market) lovingly restored Brunswick House in early 2000s, paving the way for Jackson Boxer and his brother Frank (of rooftop car park fame) to found a coffee and sandwich shop in 2010 that was initially known as the Brunswick House Coffee Rooms. After a tough first month, they relaunched as Brunswick House Café, which then eventually became Brunswick House as years went by. You can read the whole story on Jackson's blog here.

It's been fascinating watching it grow in to the confident restaurant that it is today, and it's a magical place to spend a few hours, surrounded by Lassco's chandeliers and knick knacks.

Jackson opens up at 9.30am every day for breakfast (10am at weekends), switches to lunch for a few hours at 12pm, and kicks dinner off at 6pm (except on Sundays when Brunswick House closes at 4pm). In between, you can hang out in the bar which has a great menu of snacks and cocktails, plus an array of hot drinks that will be familiar to Italo Deli regulars.

"Weekend Lunch" therefore kicks off at around 12pm, but there's no harm in settling in before that for a healthy juice concoction or a daily loosener and a Ham Hock & Coolea Cheese Muffin from the breakfast menu. Much like at The Manor and The Shed, they've got one of those "I want it all" menus. Jackson is usually on hand to go through it all in ludicrous amounts of detail, though it doesn't really help with the decision making.


Between four you could definitely tackle the whole menu anyway, with space for dessert. We nearly managed it:

- Cauliflower, Fennel & Pecan Butter
- Girolles, Burnt Bread & Chard
- Blackberries, Cow's Curd & Sea Aster
- Tomato, Aubergine & Riseley
- Coco Beans, Poached Egg & Coppa
- Fried Lamb Breast, English Corn & Spring Onions

Every plate (intended for sharing) was carefully thought out beautifully presented, as you can see below. Cauliflower, Fennel & Pecan Butter was a tough one to share, but all was soon forgotten as a gorgeous plate of Tomato, Aubergine & Riseley made its way round the table. I could go in to more detail, but you'd be better off hearing it first hand from Jackson. That said, we were so mesmerised by his plate descriptions that a lot of it went in one ear and straight out the other as we tried not to drool on the table.

Cauliflower, Fennel & Pecan Butter

Blackberries, Cow's Curd & Sea Aster

Tomato, Aubergine & Riseley

Coco Beans, Poached Egg & Coppa

Desserts weren't listed on the Weekend Lunch menu, but they do have a list of puddings tucked away in case of emergency. We ordered three:

- Raspberries, Sorrel & Sour Cream
- Greengage Sponge & Yoghurt Sorbet
- Toasted Ginger Cake & Spiced Plums

I usually prefer something in the Treacle Tart or Tarte Tatin direction for dessert, but it's hard not to be seduced by a Toasted Ginger Cake with Spiced Plums, especially at this time of year. You could just pop in for a slice of this with a cup of tea and leave very happy. In fact, I might do that tomorrow.


Toasted Ginger Cake & Spiced Plums

OK, so it's not really brunch, but it was at brunch o'clock and a poached egg did make an appearance. There are so few places where you can have "brunch" in London at a leisurely pace with room to move your elbows, and it doesn't get much better than at Brunswick House. Oh, and you can book. How novel!

Keep your eyes peeled for their "Sinning on Sunday" events aimed mainly at those in the industry. The next one is an enticing Jordanian Mansaf Feast in collaboration with Arabica Bar & Kitchen on Sunday 8th November. Get tickets here.

Brunswick House - www.brunswickhouse.co

30 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, SW8 2LG

Square Meal

Brunswick House Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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For brunch #2 we're off to Egg Break in Notting Hill, Soho House's contribution to London's egg revolution. Knowing Soho House (Pizza East, Dirty Burger, Chicken Shop), this site will be the first of many, but it's not a chain yet and this cosy brunch spot is full of character.

Prices have sadly gone up since I went in September, in some cases by as much as 33%, but there were some bun bargains in there that were too good to be true.  The technicolor Fried Chicken Bun with Pickled Green Tomato, Red Onion, and Mayo was an absolute steal at £6, but it's still affordable at £8, though it doesn't come with any sides. Speaking of which, you should definitely get yourself some Fennel Sausage for £3 and their rather special Hash Browns, also for £3.


Fried chicken bun, fried egg, pickled green tomato, red onion, mayo

Fennel sausage

Elsewhere I can recommend the intriguing plate described as Farro, 63° Egg, Avocado, Radish, Beetroot, Feta, and Sorrel Pesto which has crept up a quid to £9. So many questions... well, two. What is Farro? And why is my egg acute?

Google to the rescue as ever. First off, farro is a whole grain that's a bit chewier than rice when cooked - duh. Secondly, I have discovered that people are truly obsessed by egg poaching. Read this ridiculously detailed post from The Food Lab. Basically, the eggs are slow cooked, sous-vide style (in a water bath) at 63°, for an hour or so (or something slightly more precise than that) to achieve the perfect runny yolk - ideal for #eggporn.

Farro, 63° egg, avocado, radish, beetroot, feta, sorrel pesto

Farro, 63° egg, avocado, radish, beetroot, feta, sorrel pesto

We finished off with Baked Salted Caramel & Creme Fraiche (£4) which wasn't as exciting as we hoped, but it did give me a chance to get channel my inner Andy Warhol (see below). 

Baked Salted Caramel & Creme Fraiche Pop Art

All in all, we had a lovely time and a filling brunch that didn't break the bank. There's plenty else on the menu that I'd like to try, as long as the prices don't continue to rise! It's a good spot to know about in the back streets of Notting Hill, and has earned its place on Map The List.

It's open 7 days a week from 8am-10pm serving a variety of eggy plates (from Eggs Florentine to Spaghetti Carbonara), but expect to queue for a spot of brunch at the weekend.

Egg Break - www.eggbreak.com

30 Uxbridge Street, W8 7TA

Square Meal

Egg Break Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Brunch #3 is a quick one. Some of the Honest Burgers outposts do brunch. Did you know that? Nobody else seems to. We dropped in to their Clapham Common branch early one Saturday morning, hoping to beat the crowds, only to find the restaurant completely empty, comme ça: 

Photo provided by Honest Burgers

Photo provided by Honest Burgers

Perhaps everyone was in Fields or Brickwood round the corner. So what do Honest Burgers do for brunch? A big fat fry up for £8.50 (see below), stuff on toast (e.g. chipotle bacon beans with a fried egg for £5), and super cheap brunch buns.  The Honest bun with smoked bacon, cumberland sausage, fried egg and garlic mushrooms is a mere £5, and ludicrously it comes with a big portion of their rosemary chips too - this isn't marked on the menu by the way, for some reason. Unlimited refill coffee or tea will set you back £1.50, and cocktails are £5. Bargain. Go nuts.

Smoked Bacon, Cumberland Sausage, Black Pudding, Fried Egg, Garlic Mushrooms, Bubble & Squeak, Chipotle Bacon Beans and Sourdough Toast for just £8.50 - photo provided by Honest Burgers

N.B. Only a couple of branches currently offer brunch / breakfast - Clapham, Tooting and Liverpool Street at the time of writing. 

In Clapham, brunch is served from 9.30-13.00 every Saturday and Sunday on Venn Street opposite the Clapham Common Picturehouse. During the week (Mon-Thu) you can get a burger and a cinema ticket for £15 - another burger bargain.

Honest Burgerswww.honestburgers.co.uk

Honest Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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None of those doing it for you? Here are some of my other favourite brunch spots:


Top of my brunch to-do list: The Good Egg - Stoke Newington

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