London town isn’t short of brunch spots, but it’s rare one finds oneself dining in St James’s. Situated within The Sofitel hotel, the grade II listed The Balcon may be a classic French brasserie, however, in recent months they’ve introduced a new weekend offering inspired by the classic British brunch. Combining The Balcon’s signature French cuisine with British influences, the team will merge culinary traditions from both sides of the Channel to offer ‘Le Brunch’.
The Balcon oozes old school glamour; a little Gatsby-esque in its styling, the restaurant features double-height ceilings, statement spiral staircases and chic banquettes. The tables are a little too close together in some areas - it was a squeeze to get in to our table without knocking the table next to us!
The menu features classic egg dishes, mains such as a rare breed beef burger and a rather delectable looking soft shell crab, as well as a grill, fruits and seeds (for those with a healthier palette) and a decent selection of sweets. The Weekend Brunch is a great option if dining for an occasion; £49 per person will give you free-flowing champagne, viennoisseries, a savoury main, a sweet dish or two Parisiennes pastries and a Bloody Mary.
I started off with the Trealy Farm croque madame, with raclette cheese and a duck egg; a plateful of gooey, oozy, cheesy deliciousness. Do not underestimate the joy raclette can bring. My guest enjoyed the poached lobster and avocado eggs Benedict, though remarked that the portion could have been a bit more generous.
The banana, coconut and blueberry pancakes served with hefty blob of dangerously moreish cinnamon mascarpone were perfectly light and fluffy. In fact, I was so impressed I’m going to try and recreate them myself for Shrove Tuesday! My friend sprung for The Brioche French toast with a mixed berry compote and lemon curd, which also went down a treat, thanks to a welcome juxtaposition of sweet and tart flavours.
Aside from feeling at times that I was dining with those at the next table given we were so close in proximity, our food did take rather a long while to appear, waiting nearly 40 minutes for our second course. It certainly was a tasty treat, but the service could have been quicker - lazy Sunday or not.
A classy brunch affair in the heart of Vauxhall...
When one's looking for a classy restaurant that serves brunch, Vauxhall doesn't necessarily spring to mind. While the Vauxhall area has been slowly becoming gentrified over the past few years, it has a reputation for being a bit seedy and lacking any decent restaurants - until COUNTER came along.
COUNTER is a 175-cover all-day bar & brasserie housed in an expansive 200-foot long arch. The decor is equal parts futuristic and retro with glittering antiqued mirrors and a palette of lacquered grey tones, which are highlighted with brass detailing and custom-made lighting set off against reclaimed teak floors.
When we arrived at around 11am on a Sunday morning, the restaurant was fairly quiet, providing a relaxing environment for my husband and I to catch up over a perfectly made latte - a crucial part of any breakfast as one knows.
There's something so decadent about brunch. It implies shameless lingering in bed, only rising to indulge in a calorie-laden feast and a cheeky cocktail or two. And that's why I love it. It makes no apologies for being neither breakfast nor lunch and instead, let's you choose to enjoy whatever you so desire.
Today, I desired Dirty Bones, a laidback restaurant nestled in Kingly Court, Soho, renowned for serving American comfort food at its best. I made the pilgrimage to Dirty Bones to try the recently launched weekend brunch menu, which includes a mains and bottomless Prosecco and coffee for £15 (every Sat & Sun until 5pm - for those who are really lazy).
Belt busting entrees on offer include: The MacDaddy, (a 6 oz. aged steak burger smothered in mac-n-cheese and pulled beef short rib in Dirty Bones' barbeque sauce and served in a brioche bun); the Benedict Burger (6oz house burger, topped with poached egg and black treacle bacon, smothered in Dirty Bones hollandaise sauce); Steak & Eggs (a 30-day aged flat iron steak, chargrilled and served with two free range fried eggs and Dirty Bones smoked ketchup); and Short rib & cheese toastie (a triple stack toastie of beef rib, charred gherkin, English mustard, taleggio and cheddar on sourdough).
The MacDaddy definitely lived up to its hype. The burger was ridiculously juicy and the mac-n-cheese was sinfully decadent. As a food combination it shouldn't work, but the macaroni added a whole other level of sheer gluttonous pleasure. I reckon it's quite possibly the best cure for a hangover, making it an ideal choice for those suffering from pre-Christmas over indulgence. Needless to say, the burger was quickly (and shamelessly) devoured.
As one would expect from any fabulous brunch offering, the brunch included bottomless Prosecco and coffee, which really helped perk us up and add a bit of cheer to our afternoon.
One thing that struck us during or visit was how genuinely friendly all of the staff members were, which really added to our overall experience. The atmosphere was really positive and everyone seemed to enjoy getting stuck into the Prosecco and copious amounts of comfort food.
Although we weren't going to indulge in dessert, the manager recommended the Milk and Frosties dessert, a panna cotta made with the milk from a bowl of Frosties soaked overnight. The panna cotta was quite thick in consistency and the Frosties provided a pleasant crunch, but overall, it didn't blow us away. After finishing our dessert, we experienced serious dessert envy when we caught a glimpse of the couple next to us enjoying the Banana Toblerone-Tella waffles, a seriously sinful dessert featuring caramelised banana, Toberlone-Tella, blueberry jam and peanut butter gelato. All I know is that it looked like the love child of a waffle and a banana split. Now if you ask me, that's the perfect way to end any day...
Food and drink: ★★★
Staff attentiveness/friendliness: ★★★★
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There's nothing more delicious in life than indulging in a sensational meal.