Best breakfasts and brunches in central London

Time Out selects some of the best weekend breakfasts and brunches available in central London

Some of London’s most fancy breakfast and brunch options can be found in the centre of town. So whether you’re journeying in for the occasion or you find yourself feeling peckish in central London, it’s time to feast like a king or queen. Choose from the best cafes and coffee shops or pick a restaurant serving a brunch menu with a twist. You’ll find plenty of options in the list below. Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.

RECOMMENDED: London's best breakfasts and brunches

Balthazar

It’s notoriously hard to snag a table at Balthazar. Unless you go for breakfast that is, in which case you can walk in with no reservation. This glam and centrally located Covent Garden brasserie serves breakfast from 7.30-11am on weekdays, and brunch from 10am-4pm at weekends. The breakfast menu covers the usual eggs every-which-way (boiled with soldiers, florentine, egg-white omelette), to American-style pancakes with banana and maple syrup. The full English breakfast costs £15, but if you'd prefer something a little lighter (actually a lot lighter), porridge, fruit salad or granola are all good options. The brunch menu adds an extensive selection of starters and mains for those seeking something substantial: steak-frites, perhaps, or confit duck. And if you're brunching, bear in mind that Balthazar makes a perfect Bloody Mary in the classic New York City style.

Breakfast for two with service: around £30
Brunch for two with service: around £40

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Aldwych

Barnyard

Ollie Dabbous’s rustic retreat on Charlotte Street isn’t an obvious spot to head to for brunch: it’s a bit dark and pokey, with timber walls and tables that make it feel like the old trench experience at the Imperial War Museum. Look past the rustic vibe and MOR soundtrack and order a plate of super-fresh smoked salmon with asparagus, or morels with a gooey fried egg. Acorn-flour waffles are ace, too: crisp outside and soft but firm within. Boozy brunchers can tank up on bourbon milkshakes or prosecco spritzes. Barnyard is a bit of a box, but there’s some lovely stuff inside.

Brunch for two with service: around £40

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West End

Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings

From the outside this black-painted building looks rather severe. But step inside and suddenly you’re in a bright and airy space that feels more like colonial-era Delhi than modern-day Clerkenwell. A rattan fan whirls overhead, ferns hang low from the ceiling and bold floral upholstered chairs add colour and comfort. This is the place for elegant yet laid back brunching. The food is very good: their huevos benedictos are a perfect balance of spicy chorizo and creamy béarnaise sauce, while the French toast with bacon and maple syrup is an indulgent treat that veers close to pudding territory. To top it all off, service is refreshingly unobstrusive.

Brunch for two with service: around £45

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Clerkenwell

Chiltern Firehouse

The most fashionable London restaurant du jour is virtually impossible to get a dinner reservation at, unless you're an A-list celeb. However, it does breakfast from 7-10.30am on weekdays and 9-11am on weekends, and a brunch menu at the weekends from 11am-3pm. Be warned: prices are very high. Lobster and crab omelette costs £24, eggs benedict £14, pancakes £12, a croissant £6, bread and butter £4 – but the dishes are all excellent. No bookings are taken, so arrive early – and smile. And on a good day, you might be able to eat outside in the charming and leafy courtyard. 

Breakfast for two with service: around £50
Brunch for two with service: around £70

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Marylebone

Dean Street Townhouse

Even at an early hour, the dark-panelled dining rooms of this ever-popular all-day Soho restaurant buzz with the animated chatter of media types, and breakfast here makes you feel important, even if you don’t have the editor of The Guardian on speed-dial. The smooth service eases things along nicely, too. It’s largely classics on the breakfast menu: eggs all ways, porridge, kedgeree, full English. There are fruit smoothies for the pious, and Scots will be heartened to see tattie scones and lorne (flat) sausage. At brunch, the offering is expanded to include starters, salads, mains and desserts.

Breakfast for two with service: around £35
Brunch for two with service: around £40

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Soho

The Delaunay

As with its famous sibling The Wolseley over in Piccadilly, breakfast at The Delaunay is a truly special affair. Similarly, too, baked goods are done spectacularly well: the beautiful display of pains au chocolat and muffins by the door is a threat or a promise – depending on whether you intend to struggle into those skinny jeans again. Settle into the handsome grand brasserie-style dining room and choose from consistently excellent breakfast standards – eggs, kippers, waffles, pancakes, full English – or the specialist European options such as bircher muesli, pretzels, or wiener kaffee (espresso with whipped cream). For something completely different, try a traditional Viennese breakfast of salami, ham, boiled eggs, Gouda, and a pretzel. At brunch you could also have cheese rarebit, various sandwiches, or a good selection of wursts.

Breakfast for two with service: around £30
Brunch for two with service: around £35

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Aldwych

Gail's Kitchen

Venue says: Set lunch offer: bread and wine plus two small plates, £19; or bread and wine plus one small plate, £14

Upmarket bakery chain Gail’s is known for its pastries, cakes and dinky sandwiches, but its Bloomsbury branch also has a smarter, sit-down brasserie that serves brunch at weekends (10am-3pm). There are traditional dishes such as scrambled eggs with smoked salmon plus some more unusual items such as fried duck egg served with chorizo, roasted potato and tomato butter. Baked goods are exemplary, as you would expect – if you have room, return to your childhood by ordering freshly baked cookies served with a glass of milk. Prices are not high for this standard of cooking in this part of town: main dishes cost around £10 or even less. 

Brunch for two with service: around £35

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Bloomsbury

Granger & Co

Bill Granger has built a TV cooking career out of selling the Aussie dream: lots of sunlight, casual vibe, easy-going photogenic dishes. This is one of his two London restaurants, and it ticks all the boxes: it's spacious and bright with big windows and verdant views. A signature dish of ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter was of cloud-like lightness. Less obvious choices, such as Korean fried chicken, are also worth ordering. Booking is essential – the place fills up quickly with affluent-looking folk.

Brunch for two with service: around £45.

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Farringdon

Hawksmoor Guildhall

Businessmen are clearly the target demographic for the mainly massive and meaty breakfasts at this esteemed steakhouse (the Guildhall branch is the only one serving up a breakfast menu). You could opt for porridge or granola, but that's missing the point – here, it’s all about steak, hash browns and eggs; short-rib bubble and squeak; Manx kipper with poached eggs; or a full English that would fill an elephant. All the incidentals – filter coffee, squeezed juice – are also excellent.

Breakfast for two with service: around £35

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City

The Ivy Market Grill

This spin-off from the more exclusive Ivy borrows some of the original’s art deco inflections, mixed with touches of French brasserie. The service is spot-on but unstuffy (they welcome kids), and on a bank holiday Monday the customers were a mix of tourists and locals, leaning towards the middle-aged. This place scores on location and presentation: it’s so near to Covent Garden’s piazza that you could catch a stray juggler’s ball.

Brunch for two with service: around £35.

 

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Covent Garden

Jackson & Rye

Jackson & Rye is modelled on a smart US diner – on balance, successfully so. The weekday kitchen kicks off with a diner-style breakfast menu (8-11.30am) that includes creamed grits (a dish similar to polenta from the southern states of the USA) topped with flaked almonds, berries and maple syrup, some rich pancakes (orange, chocolate sauce and whipped cream), and brunch-style egg dishes including 'prison eggs' – scrambled eggs with jalapeño chilli, borlotti beans and spring onion. At weekend brunch (9am-4.30pm Sat; 10am-4.30pm Sun), the eggs and pancakes are joined by an extensive à la carte menu.


Breakfast for two with service: around £30
Brunch for two with service: around £40

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Soho

Kopapa

Venue says: Kopapa is perfect for your pre or post theatre visit. We have set menu options available with 2 courses for £18.95 or 3 courses for £21.95

Kopapa’s Antipodean heritage can be detected in breakfast dishes such as soft-boiled eggs with Vegemite soldiers, but the basement kitchen’s creativity goes well beyond nursery tucker. Particularly good is the signature dish of Turkish eggs – two perfectly poached eggs, bobbing in a bowl of whipped yogurt that’s topped with hot chilli butter and served with sourdough toast. Other surprising dishes include spiced banana French toast with grilled bacon, orange blossom labneh,and tamarind raisin relish. The coffee is exemplary. Brunch carries on with the full breakfast menu and brings on a few extra platters, sandwiches and burgers, plus sweet dishes. Kopapa's sibling, Providores and Tapa Room, in Marylebone, is also very good.

Breakfast for two with service: around £30
Brunch for two with service: around £35

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Leicester Square

Koya Bar

Originally launched as a second branch of the ever-popular udon noodle joint Koya (just next door), this place went beyong its remit, opening for morning meals too. As well as the classic Japanese combo of grilled fish, miso soup, pickles and rice, Koya Bar turns breakfast on its head with morning udon dishes such as hot noodles with raw egg and soy sauce (kama tama udon), and English-breakfast-inspired egg, bacon and shiitake mushroom udon. There’s also rice porridge with mixed mushrooms, egg and pickles, or kedgeree-style with smoked haddock. Expect Koya’s usual high-quality, handmade wheat noodles, plus hot green tea or cold barley tea.

Breakfast for two with service: around £30

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Soho

Lantana

Venue says: Own-blend coffee and an interesting, seasonal, all day menu. Lantana has been called 'a little bit of Australia in London'.

The breakfast menu here is admittedly quite short, but it merges into Lantana's extensive 'all-day' menu which is served on weekdays from 8am-3pm. Expect standard dishes alongside more unusual assemblies such as baked beans with ham hock, chorizo, roasted pepper and poached egg - all served on chilli cornbread. Weekend brunch (9am-3pm) largely reproduces the all-day menu but adds cereal and scrambled eggs. Coffee is expertly made from the café's own blend. Be warned, however, that Lantana can get busy: at weekends you should expect to join a queue. 

Breakfast for two with service: around £25
Brunch for two with service: around £25

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Fitzrovia

The Lockhart

If a pile of fried chicken stacked on top of a giant waffle and drenched in maple syrup sounds to you like the ideal brunch, read on. Chef Brad McDonald hails from Mississippi via Brooklyn, and while his cooking has knowing contemporary class, it's firmly rooted in the Deep South. Fat strips of candied bacon with eggs and thick-cut toast scored another hit. Drinks include unlimited filter coffee –  a perk that's all too rare in London. The restaurant's two floors are light and bright, done out in reclaimed wooden furniture with mismatched vintage crockery and fresh flowers.

Brunch for two with service: around £45.

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Marble Arch

The Modern Pantry

When ex-Providores chef Anna Hansen opened this solo venture in 2008, it was, for a time, the fusion brunch spot of choice. On sunny days the alfresco tables on St John’s Square are as in-demand as ever, and the East-meets-West cooking – while no longer such a surprise – remains a delight. Everyday egg dishes are gently tweaked (eggs Benedict with Japanese yuzu citrus hollandaise, for instance), but we like the original Pantry creations, such as the signature omelette of sugar-cured prawns, with its runny middle and tangy chilli sambal. (Ask for extra sambal upfront; there’s never enough.) At brunch, served from 11am-4pm on weekends, the breakfast dishes are joined by snacks, small plates, and desserts. Staff are ultra-relaxed.

Breakfast for two with service: around £30
Brunch for two with service: around £35

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Farringdon

Plum & Spilt Milk

This sedate dining room on the first floor of the Great Northern Hotel at King’s Cross station is a sanctuary from the bustle below. The cool calm of the room and smooth, gracious service allow you to gather your thoughts before that onward journey or business meeting. The menu might not rock the boardroom, but the simple selection of dishes is done well: scrambled eggs might be served with warm granary toast, smoked salmon, and a side order of full-flavoured bacon. There are lighter options, too, such as granola, porridge or croissants. If you’re in a hurry, the hotel’s food kiosk on the ground floor (prosaically called Kiosk) sells bacon rolls, muffins, and more besides right on the station concourse. Note, however, that the restaurant is part of a grand hotel and the menu is priced accordingly: eggs benedict £14, full English £17, and so forth. 

Breakfast for two with service: around £40

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Kings Cross and St Pancras

Riding House Café

This brasserie does a brisk breakfast trade, mainly catering to professionals conducting meetings before going into the office. The chirpy staff direct groups towards the comfier of the many dining areas, while solo diners – many wielding laptops or mobiles – are seated towards the bar. If you're not in the mood for eggs (a good selection of dishes at reasonable prices), the menu covers lighter options such as bircher-benner muesli and poached fruit dishes, and there's both French toast and buttermilk pancakes. The weekend brunch menu (9am-4pm) adds burgers and sandwiches to Riding House's roster.

Breakfast for two with service: around £25
Brunch for two with service: around £35

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Fitzrovia

Tapa Room

When Providores (and the Tapa Room, its laidback all-day space) first burst on to the capital’s dining scene, its eclectic fusion cooking shook up Marylebone. The style may since have become a familiar part of London's culinary repertoire, but the Tapa Room’s quality ingredients and bold flavours are still hugely impressive. Breakfast and brunch menus are essentially identical - and that's not a criticism by any means. A signature dish of Turkish eggs (also served by Tapa Room's sister restaurant Kopapa) sees runny-middled poached eggs on a cloud of light, tangy whipped yoghurt, submerged under a pool of chilli-spiked melted butter. Equally irresistible is a plate of black pudding and eggs featuring two moist, crumbly slabs of mellow blood sausage cleverly offset by the tart-and-sweet notes of a baked Bramley apple. Groovy chilled beats set a laidback tone, matched by the service.

Breakfast for two with service: around £30
Brunch for two with service: around £30

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Marylebone

The Wolseley

If you want to start your day with a sense of occasion, it doesn’t get much better than The Wolseley. Arguably the best of the capital’s ‘grand’ cafés, the opulent, high-ceilinged space welcomes businessmen, tourists, celebrities and a basketful of dyed-in-the-wool regulars (whom the staff refer to as PWKs: People We Know), turning out breakfasts fit for the ladies and gentlemen of days gone by. From a just-baked pastry or an omelette Arnold Bennett, to a plate of haggis with duck eggs, or one of buttery kedgeree, it’s all done brilliantly. The clatter, chatter and people-watching opportunities are, of course, an added bonus. Prices are not low, but at a place of this exceptional quality you wouldn't expect them to be. And note that the breakfast menu is also a brunch menu in all but name. At weekends, it's served from 8-11.30am; during the week, things kick off at 7am. 

Breakfast for two with service: around £35

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Piccadilly

Workshop Coffee Co

Workshop’s breakfast menu is not the longest you'll come across, but its global pick ’n’ mix of ingredients provides ample choice whether you want to eat lightly or substantially. Brioche French toast is topped with poached rhubarb, orange mascarpone and hazelnuts – a well-thought-out teaming of flavours – and comes in a sizeable portion. Spiced pear and pistachio bread is partnered with lime cream cheese, maple syrup and bacon. There's also bircher muesli perked up with fresh strawberries, labneh and pumpkin seeds, and a 'full benedict' topped with chipotle sauce. The weekend brunch menu keeps the breakfast dishes and adds a few more if you're not sure whether you want a proper brunch or something more lunch-like. Saving the best for last: Workshop Coffee Co are among the best coffee roasters in London, and this is where the beans get their heat treatment. 

Breakfast for two with service: around £30
Brunch for two with service: around £40

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Farringdon
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Comments

15 comments
Sandra
Sandra

Check out reviews for brunch places all around London on www.goforbrunchlondon.com and feel free to send through recommendations!

Myriam
Myriam

I would like to suggest "Drunch" to your listing. Great place for Breakfast and Brunch in central london Drunch.co.uk

Molly
Molly

@Dave - Terry's Cafe on Great Suffolk Street (SE1, Borough and Southwark nearest tube stations) is the best greasy spoon I've come across in London - it's like Roy's straight out of Coronation Street! The decor hasn't changed abit since opening in 1982, but that's what's so charming about it. The breakfast is very good and the service is fast and friendly, I highly recommend it. Check out their website for opening times etc.

Dave
Dave

Where's a good greasy spoon when you need one

Geoff
Geoff

You didn't mention My Place in south London. Best breakfast in town and a lot cheaper and less posy than many on here.

Claire
Claire

not bad if you don't mind paying over the odds. they don't seem to be "real" english breakfasts, just poncified versions of them for people who like to pretend they're working class. i shall keep the better priced and more authentic ones to myself.....

Sue Cooke
Sue Cooke

La Brasserie at Brompton Cross has the best breakfast in town. Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit salad are fabulous ! Also it's open at 8am every dat.

Thomas C
Thomas C

@Sue Cooke They must like having a lie in around there, breakfast should start at 7am at the latest.

Masumi
Masumi

Can't believe you missed Pizarro for Sunday Brunch, and not having Franklins restaurant on Lordship Lane for Saturday breakfast, wow....

Anna McQuaid
Anna McQuaid

Cafe Chula in Camden does a real NY Style brunch...amazing Huevos Rancheros and £4 cocktails. It is worth making a morning of it, just the way it should be!

Derek
Derek

This is a very cool website enjoy everyone ;)

CQcumber
CQcumber

I'm not sure the Caravan's in Shoreditch - think it's Exmouth Market, no? or the Kings Cross branch...

Dave Harbud
Dave Harbud

Attractive and (more important!) readable site