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Avocado and Spinach Benedict
Avocado and Spinach Benedict
The Ivy Chelsea Garden

The 15 Essential Breakfasts of London

Where to find everything from a "full English" to duck-leg topped waffles

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Avocado and Spinach Benedict
| The Ivy Chelsea Garden

Londoners love nothing more than a hearty breakfast. The Brits claim to have invented the word "brunch" for the mid-morning ritual which evolved from the grand "hunt" breakfasts of old; what's undisputed is their dedication to the meal. In the city, weekday meetings no longer involve wine-laden lunches but instead occur much earlier over a feast of poached eggs, avocado on rye, and cold-pressed juice. On weekends, as suggested by the street-side queues, brunch successfully competes with the nation's one-time favorite meal — the Sunday roast.

Breakfast in Britain has been defined by the "full English," a "fry up" of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, and beans beloved since Victorian times. Riffs on the tradition are still found across every corner of the country. And yes, you can find smashed avocado on sourdough almost everywhere, too. But these days when it comes to breaking the fast, London's melting pot offers so much more; there are few instances of food from all over the world coming together more amicably than in the breakfast pan.

As a (very general) rule, the further west you are, the more traditional the breakfast options. Find yourself as far east as Shoreditch and there's enough variation to satisfy any craving: from old-school bacon and eggs at St. John to Peruvian super-shakes at Andina. Meanwhile, the best of the capital's established chains, Indian-inspired Dishoom and Middle Eastern Nopi, have their flagship cafés in the central West End, while stalwarts like the Wolseley further west in Mayfair will never go out of favor.

From pretty pastries at the Modern Pantry and maple-drenched pancakes at the Breakfast Club to Taiwanese steamed buns at Mr Bao in uber-cool Peckham, you can find it all in the English capital. Without further ado, and in geographical order, Eater's guide on where to start your mornings in London:

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Granger & Co

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Australian chef Bill Granger’s first London outpost consistently has queues lining the smart fashion boutiques of Westbourne Grove (if Notting Hill is out of the way, the Clerkenwell and Kings Cross restaurants are rated just as highly). Cloud-like scrambled eggs are served on hunks of sourdough and the coffee is as good as you’d expect from a Melbourne native. Toasted brioche is served with labneh, pistachio, and raspberry jam, but it’s the ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter that really draws the crowd.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden

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An offshoot of the iconic West End celebrity haunt, the Ivy Chelsea Garden is the prettier and altogether more relaxed younger sibling. People come for the pots and pergolas, the tinkling water features, and the antiqued mirrors peeping out from behind climbing roses. They stay for the oak-smoked salmon Eggs Royale, Marmite-buttered crumpets, and silver pots of coffee which can easily segue into the — really rather large — bottles of rosé. There is also the chance you’ll spy a member of the royal family. Book well ahead.

The Breakfast Club

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'80s-inspired diner the Breakfast Club serves its breakfast menu, milkshakes included, until 5 p.m. every day. Even dinner features classic pancake stacks while a take on the full English is called the Full Monty. What sets the leafy Battersea branch ahead of the four other London spots is a speakeasy bar — the King of Ladies Man — located, Russian doll-style, through a hidden wall at the back of the restaurant’s fake launderette.

The Wolseley

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The clink of crockery echoes against high ceilings and black, gold, and cream grandeur at this London institution. You’ll find the fashion set in meetings with media types over traditionally British breakfasts like curried kedgeree, Scottish haggis with fried eggs, or grilled kipper with mustard butter. There are also caramelized pink grapefruits, Bircher muesli, and baskets piled with croissants. Afterwards, take a stroll through Green Park to Buckingham Palace.

45 Jermyn St

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Named after its address on a road known for hosting the finest men’s tailors in the city, 45 Jermyn St backs on to the bastion of department store tradition, Fortnum & Mason. The restaurant serves a selection of Fortnum’s famous teas and coffees, and there’s a stiff morning cocktail list as well as smoothies made from kale, chia seed, and turmeric. A breakfast of crushed avocado on toast with bloody mary sauce or a potato and Spanish ham hock hash with a giant fried duck egg should be followed by a day in the shops.

Israeli-born British super chef and best-selling cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern-infused home cooking gets a sophisticated twist at his white-tiled Soho joint. Cold-pressed juices have a ginger kick and french toast is topped with star anise sugar. Try the shakshuka, a scorching skillet of eggs baked in a picante tomato sauce with smoked labneh, or go for coconut black rice pudding with mango.

Dishoom

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This Bombay-style chainlet’s bacon naan roll with chile tomato jam and cream cheese is justly famous. The bacon, dry-cured for five days with rock salt and Demerara sugar, is sourced from London’s smartest butcher the Ginger Pig and the naans are served still-warm and sprinkled with fresh herbs. If you’re after something a little more substantial, the Big Bombay features spicy, award-winning sausages from Ludlow (a mecca for tube meat) and masala-spiced baked beans. Wash it all down with a banana and mango lassi.

26 Grains

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Neal’s Yard in London’s Covent Garden hides a host of health food shops and the best cheese in town, at Neal’s Yard Dairy. But for British porridge reimagined, head to this Scandinavian-style courtyard café. Typical offerings include a hazelnut concoction made with almond milk, apple, and cinnamon coconut palm sugar or Nordic pear porridge cooked using coconut milk, just-picked pears, a sprinkle of seeds, and cacao crumble.

Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings

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On weekends, the bar at Bourne & Hollingsworth brims with jugs of extra spicy bloody marys. Tucked behind the cool food hub Exmouth Market, this all-day brasserie has the feel of a private member’s club with plenty of nooks; book a table in the greenhouse and slouch back in the palm-print arm chairs below a sea of hanging plants. Posh scones are served with banana and caramelized nuts or clotted cream and fresh berries, or splash out on the Lobster Royale — a whole grilled lobster tail, spinach, and hollandaise sauce.

Caravan Bankside

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Kiwi coffee roasters Caravan have opened a third spot on the ground floor of the old Metal Box Factory near the Tate Modern. The list of artisan coffees is long, but there’s also a salt caramel hot chocolate for those avoiding caffeine. Caravan takes its food as seriously as its coffee dishing up eggplant puree with preserved lemon gremolata, merguez sausages, Greek yogurt, and flatbread and a jalapeño corn bread served with frijoles negros, chipotle avocado, and lime. If you’ve got room, don’t miss out on the date and tamarind muffin.

A photo posted by Jaclyn Chua (@lingggggchua) on

The Modern Pantry

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It’s hard to get as far as the brunch menu here because the pastries are so good. Croissants are made with pecan, pumpkin, and wattle seeds, while pain au chocolat comes studded with hazelnuts and Tonka beans. Choose between Thai pandan custard and pistachio, or peanut butter and miso caramel–stuffed doughnuts. (There’s a Clerkenwell joint under the same name, but beware: They don’t have the doughnuts on the counter.) If you do make it to the hot menu, opt for the cure-all sweetcorn, feta, Medjool date, and spring onion waffles. The drinks list has everything from a watermelon and grapefruit refresher to a clementine, black cardamom, and saffron Bellini.

Duck & Waffle

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London’s loftiest breakfast can be found on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower with the views to prove it. Duck, of course, is the thing — decadently served confit and crispy with waffles and a mustard maple syrup. For something even sweeter, sip on a mimosa and opt for the "Full Elvis:" Belgian waffles, topped with brûléed bananas, peanut butter, and jelly. Traditionalists will be happy with just-baked pastries and bright orange boiled eggs with toasted soldiers.

Award-winning chef Martin Morales of Ceviche runs the show at this Peruvian restaurant, serving up a rainbow of superfood smoothies. There’s a quinoa and kiwicha granola served with lúcuma puree. And hot options include the chicharrón sandwich: meltingly-soft pieces of confit pork belly piled high in a sweet brioche bun served with camote (sweet potato) ketchup. Pancakes are also made with camote, and stacked with spiced chancaca honey and coconut cream.

St. John Bread and Wine

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Legendary British chef Fergus Henderson's essential Spitalfields café serves the best bacon sandwich in London. There’s also a simple perfection in sitting down to a breakfast menu that encourages you to share a spread of ham, eggs, and fried bread with your morning espresso before you venture into the Spitalfields market. On your way out, check whether you can get some of the famous custard-filled doughnuts to take away.

Peckham is often described as the new Shoreditch, but it’s food-lovers, not hipsters, that should be making a beeline for the neighborhood south of the river. This brand-new restaurant is always jam-packed at dinner time, but the weekend brunch remains a relative secret. Not for long, because the Bao Benedict — a feast of slow braised pork from local butcher Flock and Herd, wilted spinach, egg, and hollandaise — is ridiculously tasty. Bloody marys are made with sake, fresh tomato juice, wasabi, and sriracha and can be ordered bottomless, by the hour.

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Granger & Co

Australian chef Bill Granger’s first London outpost consistently has queues lining the smart fashion boutiques of Westbourne Grove (if Notting Hill is out of the way, the Clerkenwell and Kings Cross restaurants are rated just as highly). Cloud-like scrambled eggs are served on hunks of sourdough and the coffee is as good as you’d expect from a Melbourne native. Toasted brioche is served with labneh, pistachio, and raspberry jam, but it’s the ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter that really draws the crowd.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden

An offshoot of the iconic West End celebrity haunt, the Ivy Chelsea Garden is the prettier and altogether more relaxed younger sibling. People come for the pots and pergolas, the tinkling water features, and the antiqued mirrors peeping out from behind climbing roses. They stay for the oak-smoked salmon Eggs Royale, Marmite-buttered crumpets, and silver pots of coffee which can easily segue into the — really rather large — bottles of rosé. There is also the chance you’ll spy a member of the royal family. Book well ahead.

The Breakfast Club

'80s-inspired diner the Breakfast Club serves its breakfast menu, milkshakes included, until 5 p.m. every day. Even dinner features classic pancake stacks while a take on the full English is called the Full Monty. What sets the leafy Battersea branch ahead of the four other London spots is a speakeasy bar — the King of Ladies Man — located, Russian doll-style, through a hidden wall at the back of the restaurant’s fake launderette.

The Wolseley

The clink of crockery echoes against high ceilings and black, gold, and cream grandeur at this London institution. You’ll find the fashion set in meetings with media types over traditionally British breakfasts like curried kedgeree, Scottish haggis with fried eggs, or grilled kipper with mustard butter. There are also caramelized pink grapefruits, Bircher muesli, and baskets piled with croissants. Afterwards, take a stroll through Green Park to Buckingham Palace.

45 Jermyn St

Named after its address on a road known for hosting the finest men’s tailors in the city, 45 Jermyn St backs on to the bastion of department store tradition, Fortnum & Mason. The restaurant serves a selection of Fortnum’s famous teas and coffees, and there’s a stiff morning cocktail list as well as smoothies made from kale, chia seed, and turmeric. A breakfast of crushed avocado on toast with bloody mary sauce or a potato and Spanish ham hock hash with a giant fried duck egg should be followed by a day in the shops.

Nopi

Israeli-born British super chef and best-selling cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern-infused home cooking gets a sophisticated twist at his white-tiled Soho joint. Cold-pressed juices have a ginger kick and french toast is topped with star anise sugar. Try the shakshuka, a scorching skillet of eggs baked in a picante tomato sauce with smoked labneh, or go for coconut black rice pudding with mango.

Dishoom

This Bombay-style chainlet’s bacon naan roll with chile tomato jam and cream cheese is justly famous. The bacon, dry-cured for five days with rock salt and Demerara sugar, is sourced from London’s smartest butcher the Ginger Pig and the naans are served still-warm and sprinkled with fresh herbs. If you’re after something a little more substantial, the Big Bombay features spicy, award-winning sausages from Ludlow (a mecca for tube meat) and masala-spiced baked beans. Wash it all down with a banana and mango lassi.

26 Grains

Neal’s Yard in London’s Covent Garden hides a host of health food shops and the best cheese in town, at Neal’s Yard Dairy. But for British porridge reimagined, head to this Scandinavian-style courtyard café. Typical offerings include a hazelnut concoction made with almond milk, apple, and cinnamon coconut palm sugar or Nordic pear porridge cooked using coconut milk, just-picked pears, a sprinkle of seeds, and cacao crumble.

Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings

On weekends, the bar at Bourne & Hollingsworth brims with jugs of extra spicy bloody marys. Tucked behind the cool food hub Exmouth Market, this all-day brasserie has the feel of a private member’s club with plenty of nooks; book a table in the greenhouse and slouch back in the palm-print arm chairs below a sea of hanging plants. Posh scones are served with banana and caramelized nuts or clotted cream and fresh berries, or splash out on the Lobster Royale — a whole grilled lobster tail, spinach, and hollandaise sauce.

Caravan Bankside

Kiwi coffee roasters Caravan have opened a third spot on the ground floor of the old Metal Box Factory near the Tate Modern. The list of artisan coffees is long, but there’s also a salt caramel hot chocolate for those avoiding caffeine. Caravan takes its food as seriously as its coffee dishing up eggplant puree with preserved lemon gremolata, merguez sausages, Greek yogurt, and flatbread and a jalapeño corn bread served with frijoles negros, chipotle avocado, and lime. If you’ve got room, don’t miss out on the date and tamarind muffin.

A photo posted by Jaclyn Chua (@lingggggchua) on

The Modern Pantry

It’s hard to get as far as the brunch menu here because the pastries are so good. Croissants are made with pecan, pumpkin, and wattle seeds, while pain au chocolat comes studded with hazelnuts and Tonka beans. Choose between Thai pandan custard and pistachio, or peanut butter and miso caramel–stuffed doughnuts. (There’s a Clerkenwell joint under the same name, but beware: They don’t have the doughnuts on the counter.) If you do make it to the hot menu, opt for the cure-all sweetcorn, feta, Medjool date, and spring onion waffles. The drinks list has everything from a watermelon and grapefruit refresher to a clementine, black cardamom, and saffron Bellini.

Duck & Waffle

London’s loftiest breakfast can be found on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower with the views to prove it. Duck, of course, is the thing — decadently served confit and crispy with waffles and a mustard maple syrup. For something even sweeter, sip on a mimosa and opt for the "Full Elvis:" Belgian waffles, topped with brûléed bananas, peanut butter, and jelly. Traditionalists will be happy with just-baked pastries and bright orange boiled eggs with toasted soldiers.

Andina

Award-winning chef Martin Morales of Ceviche runs the show at this Peruvian restaurant, serving up a rainbow of superfood smoothies. There’s a quinoa and kiwicha granola served with lúcuma puree. And hot options include the chicharrón sandwich: meltingly-soft pieces of confit pork belly piled high in a sweet brioche bun served with camote (sweet potato) ketchup. Pancakes are also made with camote, and stacked with spiced chancaca honey and coconut cream.

St. John Bread and Wine

Legendary British chef Fergus Henderson's essential Spitalfields café serves the best bacon sandwich in London. There’s also a simple perfection in sitting down to a breakfast menu that encourages you to share a spread of ham, eggs, and fried bread with your morning espresso before you venture into the Spitalfields market. On your way out, check whether you can get some of the famous custard-filled doughnuts to take away.

Mr Bao

Peckham is often described as the new Shoreditch, but it’s food-lovers, not hipsters, that should be making a beeline for the neighborhood south of the river. This brand-new restaurant is always jam-packed at dinner time, but the weekend brunch remains a relative secret. Not for long, because the Bao Benedict — a feast of slow braised pork from local butcher Flock and Herd, wilted spinach, egg, and hollandaise — is ridiculously tasty. Bloody marys are made with sake, fresh tomato juice, wasabi, and sriracha and can be ordered bottomless, by the hour.

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