Breakfast on most occasions either consists of some burnt toast or tasteless yogurt: occasionally life treats you to the luxury of breakfast out, though that is almost always because of work. For those of us that are students, or night owls, we far prefer to have the extra sleep rather than a bowl of soggy muesli; coffee is all we need to survive our mornings.
We all know just how many different ways there are too drink in London. But you really haven’t lived London’s social scene to its fullest until you’ve indulged in one of the plethora of boozy brunches to be found around London. Most of these are “bottomless”, though this is a misnomer often because it becomes a race against the clock (more on that later).
I find these sorts of lists often become a little over-extended, so I am going to keep this down to, in my opinion, the five best boozy brunches in London.
I might have rated this institution higher as it is relatively cost- effective and generous, but there were a few little things that kept it from edging higher. That said, this is an overall experience well worth your money.
Avenue, located on St James’s Street in central London, is owned by the D&D group which own quite a few of London’s better known establishments. Part of what makes Avenue worth it is the fact that the size of the restaurant means there is plenty of space to make bookings, a commodity not always widely available in London. The fact that you can switch between a Bloody Mary and Prosecco is an added bonus, though in terms of quality I would argue the Bloody Mary is much better.
While the food is relatively diverse from classic breakfast dishes to fried chicken burgers, it is a bit of a letdown because it can feel like it’s a churning out exercise for the kitchen so the quality isn’t as good as when you eat there for dinner. However, if you want bang for your buck and a modern setting this is a good option.
Price: £23.50 for 2-courses, £26 for 3-courses, £15 to add unlimited Prosecco and Bloody Mary’s.
7-9 St James’s Street, SW1A 1EE
#4 Quaglinos – 16 Bury Street, SW1
Located just around the corner from Avenue and owned by the same group, Quaglinos is nonetheless a step above. There are many reasons why this restaurant is worth writing about that could fill an entire article on its own. It is not particularly well known by younger Londoners: older or more nostalgic readers will remember it as a favorite haunt of Edina and Patsy in Absolutey Fabulous (referred to simply as Quags). The first impression you get from walking down the marble stairs into Quaglinos (it was completely refurbished a few years ago) is that its atmosphere lives up to its “see and be seen” reputation, complete with swanky glitz and convivial customers.
The concept of Quaglinos’ brunch menus is more or less the same as Avenue’s (bit surprise there) but the food is a notch above to fit with the atmosphere, as is even the Prosecco to a degree. It is a bit more expensive than Avenue but it makes up for this by not sacrificing quality and providing a much greater diversity of options (for example, rock oysters or roast venison).
The downside is that Prosecco is the only “bottomless” choice available and any additions cost extra, though this tends to be the case at most places. Ultimately though Quaglinos is the kind of place you should go if you want to avoid hen-doos from the Midlands and hang out with celebrities.
Price: 2 Courses – £21.00 3 Courses – £27.00 Add bottomless prosecco to your meal for £15.00
16 Bury St, London SW1Y 6AJ
#3 Mac & Wild
A relative new comer to the bottomless boozy brunch Mac & Wild are defiantly going for it. Both the Fitzrovia (Sat & Sun) and the Devonshire Square (Sat only) are offering up a mighty take on the concept. Unlike some of the places here it’s not a set price menu, rather a menu consisting of some of the regular dishes along side a hearty choice of breakfast/brunch dishes all with a Scottish twist.
Dishes include the now ubiquitous avocado on toast, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. There’s a few different takes on Eggs Benedict and that old staple of the Victorian Raj Kedgeree. But the star of the show is the Big Jim’s Breakfast for two, serving up bacon, tattie scones, mushrooms, black pudding, sausages, scrambled eggs, bone marrow beans and venison on toast.
When it comes to the bottomless drinks, for £18pp you have two hours of bottomless drinks that leave the imagination of the others here in the shade. It’s not a choice of fizz of Bloody Mary but of Prosecco, Bucks Fizz, Bloody Marys (vodka), Bloody Scotsmans (Whisky), Bloody Botanists (gin), and Buckie Royales which is Buckfast and Prosecco.
Price: The Big Jim’s Breakfast is £35 for two, all other brunch dishes are £7.50-£12. Bottomless drinks for 2 hours is £18.
#2 Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings
As the hipstery name might suggest to readers, B&HB (there’s just no way I’m going to be bothered to keep using its annoyingly long full name) is more of a unique establishment than some of the other ones on brunch lists. However, this only adds to the overall experience.
For me what makes B&HB great for bottomless brunch is the setting, which is far more “cozy” and intimate than most others. The décor, which sort of aims at a country cottage and atrium feel, is much more relaxed and comfortable, with appropriately vintage looking sofas and chairs to sit on as you eat and sip Bloody Marys.
This illusion gives you the feel that you are in fact brunching at someone’s home as opposed to a restaurant, which nearly had me put this as my top choice. The food is probably the best of the all the choices on this list, and has a much greater diversity of dishes (think braised beef potato hash with a fried duck egg).
The real treat of B&HB is in the summer when they open the windows and side doors, which really enhances the “garden cottage” feel. Drinking is all well and fine, but in the UK, drinking in the sun is a very rare treat.
Price: Varies depending on item, £17 for bottomless Bloody Marys, £18 for bottomless Bellinis.
42 Northampton Rd, London EC1R 0HU
#1 Villandry St James’s
I will say upfront, this is my number one choice not because it is as glitzy or foodie as other brunches, but because it hits the perfect medium of quality, price, and drink. Villandry is a small restaurant group around London, which, although nice, doesn’t exactly pack the kind of special punch you get from something like the Caprice Group. Be that as it may, there are very good reasons why I rate this the best boozy brunch in London.
First and foremost, the price includes bottomless Champagne (there is a cheaper bottlomless Prosecco menu too). The quality of the Champagne is good as well, though it seems to change fairly often as they have specific champagne not on the wine list just for these brunches which run every weekend. Ultimately though this doesn’t seem to be a problem as from what I have seen they are relatively small or unheard of growers. The food is excellent as well though admittedly the options are limited (always go for the Full English Breakfast). You get coffee, orange juice, pastries, and a small dessert plate at the end. However, like most brunches, the food simply becomes an accessory to the booze.
The one downside is that you are given a two hour time limited for Champagne. This is for obvious reasons as without this, jokers like my friends and I would drink them dry. As one of my best friends put it, you have to “beat the house”, though much like gambling, the house always wins.
12 Waterloo Pl, London SW1Y 4AU