WORDS MAISIE JANE DANIELS
Whether you're dining solo, treating a colleague, on a cheeky afternoon date, or hanging with a mate, we've crafted a list of our favourite brunch and lunch spots across London.
HUMDINGERS | HIGHBURY
There was something a bit fishy about walking into Humdingers. No, not the food, although we did enjoy some scrumptious smoked salmon, but the decor. Housed in North London's Highbury, this newly launched eatery showcases the original features of the fishmongers it once was, dating back to the 1900s. Expect to see paintings of fishermen, hung proudly in front of the original salvaged wall tiles. The rustic setting is reflected throughout the bakery with its unpretentious selection of baked goods and brunches that will set you up for the day ahead with a smile on your face. My Eggs Benedict were cooked to perfection, oozing with golden delights, and the additions such as edible flowers and sourdough bread-to-go didn't go unnoticed (thank you, lads!).
If you don't know already, Humdingers already has two existing establishments in Hoxton and Hornsey and the brand also operates an event catering business working all over London for clients including Alexander McQueen, Amazon, Gucci and Burberry. Any food waste that is left over from the bakeries are also offered out to members of the community who are in need. As such, Humdingers has created it's own, all-encompassing eco-system with a purpose-over-profit mindset that the world needs more of. Founder Robert Hunningher explains:“It’s about playing our part to ensure no one in our community goes hungry or is stuck at a disadvantage. This will also hopefully inspire other businesses to act in a similar way, to always be mindful of their surrounding community and what they can do to help."
Unpretentious, honest food with a heart, the humble Humdingers is what we're here for.
LILY'S CAFE | COVENT GARDEN
Walking into Lily's Cafe is a bit like heading into Narnia. As you enter the beautiful Georgian townhouse on 3 Henrietta Street, you follow your nose through the narrow corridors into a plush conservatory. Bursting with warmth and foliage, you slowly begin to forget you're in grey London and begin to imagine you are in the Mediterranean. The menu hosts an eclectic mix of dishes by top pastry chef Kimberly Lin and, like the decor, it comes beautifully presented (so beautiful you feel a little guilty for attacking it... but that soon passes).
For brunch, it only felt right to try something a little exotic, and the Turkish Eggs with garlic labneh, pul biber butter and chicken shawarma was spot on. Accompanying that, the Sweet Roasted Pepper & Burrata Flatbread with honey, walnuts and radiccio was another stand out. Along with the Caesar salad, which was delightfully presented on a half a lettuce heart, everything was just lovely. We ended the brunch with a mouth-watering carrot and a lemon drizzle cake, which I paired with (my second) oat milk Chai Latte of the sitting- one of the best I've had in London.
If it's eclectic dishes in an exotic backdrop you're after, Lilly's is your place. And right now Lilly’s Café has teamed up with Ultimate Provence to launch the the Ultimate Brunch featuring your choice of two Lilly’s Café dishes, a slice of cake and unlimited glasses of Ultimate Provence’s rose wine for £50. Those refraining from the booze can enjoy two dishes, a slice of cake and seraphic colourful coffee for just £25.
RAILS RESTAURANT & LITTLE BAR | KINGS CROSS
Set in London's leading transport hub, Kings Cross, RAILS Restaurant & Little bar is the perfect pit-stop establishment if you want to branch out for a business brunch, or eating before entering the Eurostar.
Primly situated on the first floor of the Great Northern Hotel, RAILS boasts stylist decor that has your feeling instantly relaxed. The menu takes influence from British classics, peppered with French influence throughout - a fitting homage to the neighbouring Eurostar. With this being said, I had to go with a starter of English Asparagus with poached egg and hollandaise sauce and, of course, try the Steak, with frites and peppercorn source, both of which hit the mark on texture and flavour.
If you like your food seared, this is the place to be, with the menu featuring grilled goods including Poussin, Lamb, Pork, Sole, Aubergine and their show-stopping Porterhouse, all ideal for sharing. I am not a pudding person (give me a starter any day of the week) but I was converted by the Pear Tart with honey sauce and cream. Drink pairings came with oh, so chic cocktails to match an ultimately upmarket experience.
RAILS is well located, well mannered, and, well... good food! Why not head down for Father's Day Menu where you can find Sunday roast dishes and sides, with a glass of house wine for £29.50.
PIAZZA ITALIANA | BANK
Stepping into Piazza Italiana is like Harry Potter stepping into Gringotts bank. Not just because it was the former home of the British Linen Bank, but because this spectacular grade-II listed building is draw droopingly beautiful. From the
high ornate ceilings, captivating chandeliers, to the pull system on the loo's (yes, that's right, they were sensational), we were amazed by the attention to detail and sheer opulence that hits you - and all without feeling like it's bragging.
Set in the heart of London, Piazza Italiana serves... you guessed it... Italian dishes from all over the country, and our lunch was exquisite. "Curated by Sicilian-born culinary maestro Remo Mazzucato who has over 50 years of Italian cooking experience, the menu is made up of antipasti, sharing plates, pasta, meat and fish dishes, driven by a young restaurant team offering a modern culinary touch". Of course we wanted to get-in on all of the above. Quite frankly, all dishes deserve attention but our standouts were the Insalata di Pomodori e Burrata - as creamy as they come and I regularly find myself thinking about the Tartare di Tonno – Yellowfin tuna tartare with avocado mousse, slow-cooked egg yolk and sturgeon caviar with shallots, chives and baby parsley. Not forgetting the the signature Tagliolini Al Tartufo – tagliolini with truffle sauce, which, my goodness me, was a celebration of sumptuous flavour in your mouth.
Service also matched the sensational surroundings as we were well looked after by the waiters. From being "convinced" to try the Prosecco upon arrival, to a bold Italian red wine with lunch, pairings were perfectly picked. If deciding on decadent lunchtime dining, this is the place to visit.