Societal norms are the worst. Anyone eating a baked bean and a poached egg after 1pm is looked at like some kind of Big Lebowski fanatic. But a laid-back approach to the day, afternoon, or whatever you want to call it shouldn’t be sneered at. Brunch is, by definition, a made-up meal. It’s breakfast and lunch combined. So you should be able to consume it at any time. You should be able to drink a margarita and stuff a breakfast burrito into your face whenever. And you should go to one of these leisurely brunch spots.
The beauty of a late brunch is the feeling that the normative schedule of the adult world is shifting to your altogether more leisurely and free-thinking approach. Nowhere gives you that feeling of rightness quite like Bellanger. The Islington brasserie is resplendent: full of gold lamps and banquettes and fellow legendary layabouts eating eggs benedict and fries on a Saturday afternoon.
At Milk you have to be prepared for a wait at weekends. But given you’re going to eat a form of breakfast for dinner, a little more time shouldn’t hurt. The Balham cafe is lauded for its high-quality brunch dishes—banana bread with pumpkin seed tahini, panko-fried red snapper sando, and a series of things with burnt butter hollandaise. Oh yes. It closes at 4pm so, if you’ve got a few brain cells about you, having to queue a little shouldn’t be a problem.
photo credit: Victor Frankowski
Take a moment to pause and imagine. It’s Sunday afternoon. The sun is shining, the birds are tweeting, and your head is pounding harder than an impromptu Stomp performance at Berghain. You need sustenance. Filling, delicious sustenance—orange-yolk eggs, thick cuts of sesame sourdough, chunky bacon, feta here, feta there. You also need air. Lovely, lovely fresh air. Eat, breathe. Breathe, eat. Now stop imagining and go to Dalston. Brunswick East has got everything you need.
Where The Pancakes Are
Where The Pancakes Are is erm, where the pancakes are. More specifically, this is where you’ll find some of the best buttermilk batter pancakes in London. The Southwark cafe’s buckwheat, buttermilk-fermented pancakes are topped with everything. Pulled beef. Cinnamon-poached pineapple. Rose harissa shakshuka. Basil marshmallow. The lot. Its cocktail list is pretty decent too and if you think pancakes aren’t the kind of meal that can blend brunch into dinner, think again.
Hash is an east London favourite thanks to its warm familial atmosphere and the sheer amount of potato on its menu. Hash browns, tater tots, breakfast potatoes. If your brain is fantasising about them, Hash probably has them. Unsurprisingly, this place pops off during peak weekend self-pity hours (11am–3pm), so be prepared to queue. But leisurely, late brunches are what Hash lives for so be safe in the knowledge that they’ll look after you. House-infused coffee whisky and all.
The Riding House should be one of your go-tos in central London for solid and satisfactory pancakes, french toast, and eggs of all kinds. You’ll sit in a spacious, smart-looking brasserie with loads of bright leather sofas and a pretty bar. It’s also the kind of place you’d be chuffed to sit in on a sunny day. The line-up of sort-of-healthy and vegetarian dishes is good, and there’s plenty of room if you’re in a group of desperate stomachs.
Ozone Coffee Roasters
Shoreditch is chock-full of cafes, restaurants, and concepts serving things for brunch. Ozone is easily among the best and most comfortable. Its all-day menu is full of sweet and savoury dishes that suit the late or laid-back riser and ticks the boxes marked bacon, bread, and Burford Brown eggs. Given its location, it’s a middle ground for mid-afternoon debriefs or restorative plates before going at it all over again.
Snackbar is a cafe on Dalston Lane with a menu that’s just as suited to the feelin’ good brunch-goer, as it is to the fragile. Bread-based things are where this place really shines. The kimcheese croissant should be rated PG for being pretty gooey, while a breakfast burrito is the kind of thing both your head and heart always want. Post midday there are things like carnitas tacos and caesar salads too. It’s a menu designed for the late bruncher.
Striking, spacious, and home to a golden, spiced milk that will make any cinnamon fan feel all the feelings, Vardo should rank right at the top of your west London brunch agenda. Grand Designs-style space? Check. Suntrap roof terrace? It’s here. A sizzling jalapeño cornbread with smashed avocado? Order it now. There are also fresh juice shots if that’s what helps get the old brain ticking late in the day.
Caravan is one of London’s most popular brunch chains for good reason. The Australian-born coffee roasters and cafe has outposts in Kings Cross (big), Exmouth Market (small), Bankside (medium), and Fitzrovia (big). So, there are a few useful locations to choose from. The menu has both sweet and savoury cravings covered—from vanilla pancakes, to baked eggs, to fry-ups—and it's a reliable option when no one wants to do any thinking. Just bang it in Google Maps and be on your way.