Since I moved to Notting Hill last year, I’ve been on a quest to sort the good from the bad in terms of brunch spots around the area. While the popularity of New York style ‘brunch’ has been growing for years in the UK, in this pocket of West London, it’s practically an institution.
There are really, really wonderful spots, but there are many more poor ones. Unfortunately, many of the best-known aren’t really up to scratch but get away with it because of pretty interiors and the fact that they get so many single-visits from poor tourists *sad face*. There are a few big names missing from the list below (Daylesford, Bumpkin, Farm Girl, 202, Snaps & Rye, Raoul’s) for this very reason. New Tom’s Kitchen would have made the list, but it was only a 12 month pop-up that’s now closed.
While some say brunch originated in England in the late 1800s as a buffet-style meal with multiple courses (there are other theories about Catholics fasting before mass and then sitting down for a large midday meal), the term was most definitely first coined in Britain in 1895 to describe a Sunday meal for “Saturday-night carousers” in Guy Beringer’s article “Brunch: A Plea” in Hunter’s Weekly. That aside, it wasn’t made popular until the 1930s in the United States, and the influence of New York originated Eggs Benedict to ‘bagels and lox’ (smoked salmon) still reigns supreme today.
Number 1. Granger & Co
But it’s not just the Americans you have to thank for good brunch in Notting Hill, and that’s why Granger gets first mention. It has to really. Every Bill Granger restaurant reflects the spirit they like to think of as ‘Australian’: sunny, easy-going and generous. Bill opened his first restaurant in Sydney’s Darlinghurst at the age of 24. It soon became famous for the best scrambled eggs and hotcakes in town, served at the now much-copied communal table, where locals and travellers, families and celebrities thrived on the unique atmosphere. Twenty years later, this approach to dining has become truly global, from Seoul to Honolulu and Tokyo. However, this makes the list with a giant caveat; yes, the food at this place *is* as good as they say, but there’s a 20-person line outside every Saturday and Sunday, for almost the entire day. So get ready to wait. Or else, you can reserve at the Granger & Co in Clerkenwell, so maybe take a trip over there.
Order the: FAMOUS Ricotta hotcakes, banana & honeycomb butter for £11.80, my favourite; Toasted rye, avocado, lime & coriander for £6.75, or the ‘Full Aussie’ (their equally-famous scrambled eggs, sourdough toast, bacon, cumin roast tomato, miso chestnut mushrooms and chipolatas) at just £13.80
Opens at: Notting Hill branch opens at 7am on a Saturday, 8am on a Sunday. Breakfast until noon.
Number 2: Goode & Wright
My personal favourite. Try to get there early or book, and aim to get served by Alex (front of house man and co-owner). It sits at the unassuming end of Portobello, where the market stalls turn from food into fabrics and clothing, just before the Westway. With an approach to modern British cuisine similar to ours at Boudicca, they favour locally produced goods, cooked fantastically, always fresh, and at really decent prices. Opened in 2011 by head chef Finlay Logan, it’s recently undergone a bit of a revamp – and the place is intimate, comfortable, and has a great atmosphere to it.
Order the: Eggs! My full review of their Hansen & Lydersen smoked salmon Eggs Royal above is here, which is like HEAVEN at just £8.00, or the Smashed avocado toasted spelt seed bread £5 (which is the header for this post) for £5.00. If you’re going later, and doing full ‘brunch’, you absolutely must, must, must, MUST have the Cheesy Fries. Not the chunky chips, the fries (above), which come with truffle mayo and cannot be beaten, £4.50.
Opens at: 9am on a Saturday, 10am on a Sunday. Brunch all day Sunday, until ‘the evening’ on Saturday (try your luck and they’ll probably accommodate).
One of two of the Soho House Group’s eateries on this list, because they just know how to do things right. The first, nestled next to one of the oldest cinemas in London and downstairs from the Electric House, is a stedfast member of the Notting Hill brunch set. Electric Diner serves a French-American menu with a selection of items from the bakery and ALL THE EGGS. It’s a small, but well-formed selection. Make sure you reserve in advance, because it’ll be very busy, which makes for a buzzy experience while you’re inside and is fun if you’re in the mood. It’s also worth the wait, especially with Portobello to wander around. If you’re on you’re own, they can fit you in at the bar, which is perfect for dining solo.
Order the: Eggs Benedict at £9.00, Diner Bloody Mary (the best in town according to many) also at £9.00 or Eggs any style (go scrambled) at £5.00 with a side of smoked salmon for £4.00.
Opens at: 8am on Saturday and Sunday, switches to the all-day menu at noon.
4. Egg Break
The second Soho House Group offering, and my personal favourite of the two. Eggs all day, every day! The Soho House team has taken over an old Thai place on Uxbridge Road in partnership with Ennismore, the people behind The Hoxton group of hotels, and not for the first time – as seen by Hubbard & Bell and Chicken Shop in the Holborn Hoxton Hotel. Egg Break is a small, but well organised space with two floors, just behind Notting Hill Gate tube. Like the Electric, it’s busy, so try to book in advance now that it’s been open for a few months and word has spread!
Order the: Broken eggs with chorizo, roast tomato, scamorza and spring onion for £7.00, or the Avocado toast with poached eggs for £6.00.
Opens at: 8am every day (ignore the website). Eggs all day, but an extended food menu from noon.
Last but by NO means least, Wildflower. This place won ‘Best Cafe or Coffee Shop’ in the Time Out Love London Awards 2014, which is voted for by the public. It’s no surprise to me; a little out the way, and full of free range, fresh, organic produce – it’s a little hidden gem. Plus because they’re a florist as well, you’ll be served edible flowers with anything ordered! They serve a delicious menu of egg favourites, as well as Turkish style Shakshuka and a rather amazing Huevos Rancheros.
Order the: Huevos Rancheros for £9.50, Three Egg Omelette with ham, cheese or mushroom for £8.50 or Homemade Wildflower Granola with Greek yoghurt and homemade fruit compote at £5.00.
Opens at: 10am on a Saturday, noon on a Sunday. Brunch served from 11am to 4pm Saturday, noon until 4pm on Sunday.