London, in my opinion, does not immediately lend itself to brunch.
Brunch is a very important meal, mostly found on weekends and holidays between the hours of 10 and 12 and is one of the few meals where both sweet and savory are welcomed to the table at the same time.
Why does London not (immediately) lend itself to brunch? The city is just so big. Great brunch spots are spread far and wide and most disappointingly many only offer brunch on a Sunday. Brunch needs to be a simple stroll from your place of sleeping and for those of us on holidays who are not bound to stay within the boundaries of conformity do not agree that brunch should be limited to a single day of the week.
On my last trip to London I was fortunate enough to discover myself in a quiet, moderately priced hotel in the city which had within walking distance enough cafe’s to satisfy my desire for this elusive meal each day of my stay.
London House Hotel is just one block up from Bayswater tube station and 3 from Hyde Park. It faces on to Kensington Gardens Square and is just tucked away enough from the busy, all night buzz that comes from bustling street that is Queensway. But it is also only 10 minutes walking from Portabello road markets and about half an hour across the park from big museums like the Natural history museum, Victoria and Albert and the Science museum.
The first cafe we went to was Mikes cafe, tucked in just off side of the famous Portabello Rd markets in Notting Hill. It wasn’t until I was sitting inside that I realised we were opposite the bookstore made famous by the movie Notting Hill which strangely added to my experience, so if you are easily impressed perhaps you would like that too? I had gloriously thick and soft french toast with not only syrup, not only bananas, but the holy trio of syrup, banana and bacon. It was divine.
If you are a novice at brunch it is worth saying that often when you eat this late, you eat a lot and turn your day into a 2 meal day. Brunch and dinner. I don’t know if this is good for you or even if it turns out cheaper but I know that it is what feels right.
On Monday morning we walked across the park (helps to build up an appetite) to a place we had been before and loved. Kensington Creperie. They offer 16 different crepes both sweet and savory as well as the option to construct your own but with combinations like the ‘la belle Helene’ (Pear, Belgian chocolate, flaked almonds, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream) why would you need to? I opted for a savory version after much tossing up. The decision that was made was that he would order sweet and I would order savory and we would share to get the best of both worlds. When I took the first bite of mine however I knew that I had no need for the sweet. I was still available to help him finish off his plate when he was full though.
On our last day in the city we wandered back over to the Kensington side of the park and through the small pedestrian only streets just opposite the natural history museum. After browsing some of the cute book and other cute objects shops we went straight to Murial’s Kitchen. Again we had visited this cafe before and were taken by the food, the coffee and the decor.
We sat on tall bar stools with fake pot plants hanging upside down at our heads. The walls are covered with old colanders and delicate tea cups and saucers. The whole place is bright and open whilst still feeling very cosy, maybe because it is so busy! The big windows on to a busy street make it a good spot to watch London go by from and the coffee will also help to keep you there (best coffee of all 3). I had poached eggs on toast with avocado and bacon whilst Tom got his favorite, a full English. Both times I have gone I have looked in their front window at the beautiful cakes and desserts on display and desired but not ordered them. A reason to go back!
And for experts of the brunch? Bottomless boozy brunches in London, for next time.