Your guide to where’s best to brunch in Hackney and Islington
PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 May 2016
Forget breakfast, a late morning meal is the most important meal of the day, according to Laura Herring. Here she shares her favourites.
Wander the streets of London on a weekend morning, and you’ll never be far away from a plate of perfectly mashed avocado on toast, or a round of reassuringly named breakfast cocktails.
It seems as though everyone’s weekend plans now involve a brunch date, but why has late-breakfast-into-lunch become the weekend activity across the capital?
First up, brunch celebrates the versatility of a generally more relaxed weekend schedule. Whether you’ve just rolled out of bed after a heavy night, are (smugly) on your way back from an early morning yoga class, or have been up since 5am with your new baby, brunchtime comes exactly when you need it.
Enjoy simple, timeless, perfect eggs on toast with a cup of coffee by the canal at The Towpath Cafe in De Beauvoir, or indulge in an outrageous, over the top, deep-South American smoky dream of a Breakfast Burger (a teetering stack of meaty deliciouness and a poached egg trapped inside a bun) at De Beauvoir’s Duke’s Brew & Que. Or choose from pretty much anything in-between – a classic bacon butty to wholesome quinoa porridge with bee pollen, a full English or even a steak and chips, with a rainbow of juices and smoothies.
The impressive range of the brunch-time menu means that whatever you’ve brought to the table – be it your hangover, a toddler, or, heaven help you, both – your morning needs can be met and fully satisfied.
When your group finds themselves at different life stages, brunch brings the gang back together. Whether you’ve been out until 4am or you most definitely have not, we all need to eat.
And with our groups of friends expanding and changing together, everyone is choosing weekend brunch over Sunday lunch (or even a drunken night at the pub) to mark the end of the week and the start of a new one with their urban families.
Pull up a chair next to the cool young things at Highbury’s Fink’s Salt and Sweet – on the site of a Victorian butcher’s – eyeing up the deli for treats to take home to their own shelves – or settle alongside hipster Dalstonites at Hash E8, eyes-wide at the towering Pig Muffin full of porky delights – crispy bacon, sausage meat patty, succulent belly pork and chorizo as well as hash browns and a side of bacon jam.
A perfect time to catch up on the latest news from your closest circle. And the beauty of brunch is it can be as boozy as you like, and no one will judge you either way. You can sip on a green power smoothie or knock back those margaritas and everyone’s having a good time.
That brunch reservations tend to be easier to secure than dinner dates means choosing breakfast over dinner also lets you more easily (and often more cheaply) tick off your endless to-eat list and try out those hard-to-book places.
At the City’s Duck & Waffle you can enjoy duck egg en cocotte at the UK’s highest restaurant, while looking out over your kingdom (or queendom) in awe at the endless views – possibly even more impressive by day than at night.
And the team behind the Hawksmoor have generously treated us to The Foxlow in Stoke Newington and Clerkenwell, now-famous for their fried chicken and egg croissant waffle, meaning you can get a taste of their expertise during a quick breakfast stop (although they also do a mean bottomless Bloody Mary if you feel like hanging around all day).
Brunch also feels deliciously more relaxed than dinner, allowing you (and its chefs) to be more adventurous with your flavours. Dishoom in Shoreditch and King’s
Cross will give your morning a spicy kickstart – their revered naan rolls (fluffy warm naan breads wrapped around varying combinations of sausage, eggs, bacon and green herbs) have won them a fiercely loyal following.
Or delve into a Peruvian adventure at Shoreditch’s Andina – from fresh and fiery egg bowls to an aramanth grain granola topped with a mountain of exotic superfoods, their punchy flavours will wake you up from any Sunday morning daze.
But mostly, brunch is a local event. Wherever you live, there will be a favourite haunt serving up eggs and coffee, exactly the way you like them. Highbury’s Franks Canteen is a perfect example, serving up locally sourced food to local people.
You don’t need to go far to find brunch made just for you.
London’s Best Brunches by Laura Herring is published by Smith Street Books priced £12.99.
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