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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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Covent Garden

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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Fitzrovia

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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Covent Garden

Gail's Kitchen

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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Fitzrovia

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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Clerkenwell

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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Moorgate

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
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Comments

16 comments
Dana W
Dana W

I'd like to mention Cafe Loren in Camden Stables Market is also a great place for breakfast and brunch

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