Derek Robertson, May 2018
Ah brunch, the classic millennial pastime and reason why no-one under 35 can afford to buy a house. But forget avo on toast and over-priced plates of faff – the British have been doing hearty breakfasts for so long it’s been elevated to an art form.
The Full English – bacon, sausage, eggs, baked beans, black pudding, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, toast, and a mug of tea – is one of the most traditional British dishes and a veritable institution, providing fuel for a long day of sightseeing (or the perfect remedy for the previous night’s excesses). From greasy spoon “caffs” to more refined fare, these are the 10 best places in the capital to dig into a good old fry up.
1. E Pellicci (Bethnal Green)
If an old school, traditional “caff” is what you’re after, Pellicci’s is King – not for nothing has it hosted numerous celebrities and dignitaries over the years. The Pellicci family have manned the kitchen since 1900, and still turn out one of the capital’s best breakfasts using top notch ingredients. Just be sure to bring your appetite, as portions are extremely generous.
2. Hawksmoor Guildhall
Meat lovers rejoice, for this is the breakfast for you. It’s not cheap – the Full English is £16 – but it’s worth it; a whole chop of bacon, bubble and squeak dotted with short rib, sausages made from pork, beef, and mutton, and baked beans cooked with a pig’s trotter make this a veritable feast. Don’t expect to eat anything for the rest of the day.
Eggs are the stars at this all day drinking and dining spot, from the perfectly portioned Full English to the sumptuous range of egg dishes (for full on decadence, try the scrambled eggs with black truffle). And if they’re available, try their famous ostrich eggs – the huge, gooey yolks are a delight in themselves!
4. Maggie’s (Lewisham)
Probably the most famous place to tuck into a Full English south of the river, Maggie’s is packed till the afternoon and for good reason; you can essentially create your own breakfast from a list of 20 items, including liver if you’re feeling in need of some extra fortification, and all for around £6. The tea and coffee, just like the cheeky banter, is endless too.
OK, so this might be pushing the concept slightly, but if you’ve had Dishoom’s bacon naan, you already know there are very serious about breakfast indeed. Bacon and sausage are present and correct – both top notch, obviously – but masala baked beans, akuir, and spicy scrambled eggs with chilli, all washed down with chai, are worthy twists on a classic.
6. Regency Café (Pimlico)
A stunning example of an art deco interior, the Regency is another lively spot that will rouse the bleary eyed from their stupor (sadly, they’re not open on Sundays though). They’ve been serving up thick rashers of bacon, herb-infused sausages, and perfect fried eggs here since 1946, their lack of pretence of distinct point of pride amid Pimlico’s gentrification.
7. Terry’s Café (Borough)
This unassuming caff is another rough diamond – don’t let the checked plastic tablecloths put you off – whose unique selling point is locally sourced products. Virtually everything they cook comes from the nearby Smithfield Market, and the kitchen whips it all up with no little skill. Helpfully, you can order based on your hunger level, from The Standard to The Works.
8. Quo Vadis (Soho)
The trend of seeking gastronomic perfection with humble comfort foods has, of course, extended to the Full English, and this is the place to try it. It’s not cheap, but the ingredients – and the cooking – are impeccable, as is the serene dining room in which you sit. For elegant sophistication and a genteel start to the day, Quo Vadis is hard to beat.
9. The Pavillion Café (Victoria Park)
When the sun’s shining, few spots can rival the Pavillion Café terrace’s dreamy views over the lake in Victoria Park. And if the splendor of the surroundings doesn’t kick start your day, their delicious fry ups – they have a number of options available – featuring home made beans and locally baked sourdough surely will. And you can go boating afterwards.
10. The Breakfast Club
It might be more famous for it’s gigantic brunch menu – think avocado on rye and huevos rancheros – but their take on the classic, the Full Monty, is one of the best around. It’s also available all day long – even at dinner time – so no matter how late you wake up, you can start the day right.
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