Brunch no longer means watery poached eggs on sliced bread. Things have loosened up to the extent that almost anything goes, from Lobster Benedict to breakfast fries and brunch pizzette.
We've rounded up the best and most exciting places across the UK to wile away a long, lazy Saturday in. Grab your mates and a canyon of bottomless Bellinis and get stuck in:
Best for... breakfast fries
Dirty Bones, London W1, dirty-bones.com
Unsurprisingly, Dirty Bones do not take a restrained approach to breakfast: here you’ll find fried chicken with waffles and maple syrup, crispy fries topped with smoky ketchup and two fried eggs (otherwise known as “breakfast fries”) or a Benedict burger which is Eggs Benedict in a bun with steak and bacon, rather than just the usual ham.
And if that wasn’t enough, Banana Toblerone-Tella Waffles are possibly the most indulgent brunch dessert we have ever come across: caramelised banana, nutty chocolate spread, peanut butter gelato and crushed nuts all on top of a freshly cooked waffle. If you fancy making your brunch even more decadent, bottomless prosecco is available.
Best for... bottomless cocktails
Gas Street Social, Birmingham B1 Gas Street Social
Gas Street Social has won a place in our hearts with its unlimited Bellinis and Mimosas. It’s also a brilliant place to come with a hungry group as they serve a breakfast platter for sharing, consisting of six Cumberland sausages, six rashers of smoked streaky bacon, eight free range eggs, beans, mounds of black pudding, flat mushrooms, roasted plum tomatoes, sautéed potatoes and unlimited toast. Come armed with a gladiator appetite.
Best for... sustainable eating
Poco, London E2 Poco London
Poco has a commitment to sustainably sourced food and their new branch in Broadway Market uses own-made cheese from Kappacasein in Bermondsey and fruit and vegetables from Organic Lea in the Lea Valley. At brunch – which is served seven days a week – they offer staple fare such as eggs Benedict but we would go for the Moorish scramble instead: chorizo with harissa beans, and chilli-flavoured scrambled eggs on sourdough toast. Also, make sure you save space for their feather-light churros – the finest we’ve tried – served with a pot of delicious melted chocolate.
Best for... a hearty English breakfast
Koffee Pot, Manchester M4 The Koffee Pot
This is an old favourite which has now moved to a bigger brighter spot, still in the Northern Quarter but now on Oldham Street. Regulars at the previous venue will recognise the diner style seating although there is now capacity for up to a 120 diners looking to “posh up” their coffee or to add spam and salt beef to their full English. But it's not all about the meat - there are vegetarian and vegan options on the menu too.
Best for... spontaneous brunching
Wilson Street Pantry, Glasgow G1 Wilson Street Pantry
The breakfast menu is served until 5pm here and includes porridge, bacon rolls and eggs baked with chorizo. The staff are renowned for being helpful without being overly attentive and we’ve heard reports of off-menu pancakes being whipped up for a customer who really wanted them. Many visitors just drop in for coffee and end up staying all day.
Best for... brunch pizza
Bernardi’s, London W1 bernardis
All day restaurant Bernardi’s opened towards the end of 2015 and aims to combine Italian food with Antipodean hospitality. Brunch is available until 4.30pm at weekends and dishes on offer include poached eggs and prosciutto on toast or wild mushrooms, pancetta, fried eggs and focaccia croutons. Pick of the bunch, however, is the n’duja, egg and basil pizzette which basically makes our dreams of ‘pizza for breakfast’ a reality.
Best for... great service
The Breakfast Club in Brighton, Brighton BN1 The Breakfast Club
Brightonians are the biggest coffee consumers in the UK and the Breakfast Club has now opened a branch in The Lanes so that there’s a new place to knock back a flat white (almost) beside the seaside. The Breakfast Club has won a place in our hearts for their Reggie the Veggie breakfasts and Boston Beans (actually slow roasted pork with BBQ seasoned beans, home-style fried potatoes and a poached egg) but it’s the laidback, friendly and attentive service that means people keep coming back.
Best for... egg-lovers
Good Egg, London N16 The Good Egg
Brunch for us nearly always means eggs so where better to head than the Good Egg? This Stoke Newington temple to egg-based dishes has already won a devoted following since it opened last year. We love their version of Shakshuka (baked eggs poached in a sauce made of tomatoes, chilli and onions) which is here served with your choice of halloumi or merguez sausage. We also like their pita breads stuffed with fillings such as fried egg, aubergine, tahini and pickles.
Best for.. Lebanese-style hospitality
Bakchich, Manchester M1 Bakchich
The Lebanese restaurant Bakchich is already an established favourite in Liverpool and has now opened a branch in Manchester, offering Lebanese street food with a French twist. We would opt for the “omelette Beiruty”, a three-egg omelette cooked with Lebanese cheese and seasoned with Zaatar (a blend of herbs, sesame and salt). If were going post-gym, however, we would properly plump for the Vegetarian Lebanese Breakfast which includes a fried egg seasoned with sumac, halloumi cheese, fool moudamas (a broad bean and olive oil dip served on toast) baby cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives, organic labneh and cheese man'oucha. Almost as enticing as the food, is Bakchich’s commitment to hospitality: it is part of their mission to “create environment that bring people of different region backgrounds and beliefs together – celebrating the healthy, fresh food we love in Beirut.”
Best for… imaginative non-alcoholic drinks
George Street Canteen, St Albans AL3 George Street Canteen
The George Street Canteen is under new ownership this year but has already attracted many brunch fans. There's a plethora of tasty options up for grabs, including roasted plums, served with Greek yoghurt, granola and honey. There’s also a more imaginative than usual range of soft drinks on offer, from rhubarb-flavoured sparkling water to ginger beer with chilli and lime.
Best for... seafood lovers
Lobster Bar, London E8 Lobster Bar
The Lobster Bar has now started serving brunch at the weekend, for those of you who fancy an extra-indulgent start to the day. Dishes on offer include Lobster Benedict served on sourdough with lobster in garlic butter; Devon crab with rye seed bread and poached eggs; smoked mackerel and beetroot salad with homemade horseradish cream and avocado cream with north Atlantic prawns on sourdough toast.
A feast indeed for all bona fide seafood-lovers.
Best for... American-style brunch
The Pen and Pencil, Manchester M1 The Pen and Pencil
If you fancy corned beef hash, steak and eggs or pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, this is the place to head. Refreshingly, they also have a decent range of non-alcoholic concoctions; from Fentiman’s rose lemonade to mango and pineapple smoothies. Surely it’s not just us that wants to wash down a calorie-busting fried dish with a more virtuous and refreshing drink?
Best for... spice-lovers
Dishoom Carnaby, London W1 Dishoom
The Dishoom bacon naan roll has justly been established as one of the most popular brunch dishes available in London. We love it but also have a soft spot for the Bombay Omelette made with chopped tomato, onion, coriander and green chillies served with their delicious fire toast – thick slices of bloomer bread that are buttered and thrown on the grill where they become char-striped. And the newest branch of Dishoom, on London’s Carnaby Street is possibly the most atmospheric of their Irani-style cafes yet, with over 150 pieces of antique furniture and fittings sourced from Bombay.
Best for… seasonal ingredients
Egg and Spoon, Brighton BN2 eggandspoon
The team at Egg and Spoon met working at the legendary London vegetarian restaurant Mildreds. They then set up a bespoke catering company before opening Egg and Spoon last year. Our favourite dish? The sweetcorn fritters, served with tomato salsa and a poached egg.
Best for... hearty fare
Bellanger, London N1 Bellanger
Bellanger is the latest venture from the team behind the Wolseley and specialises in filling Viennese dishes. Start with waffles, either with restrained blueberries or with caramelised bananas, chocolate and crème fraiche. If you’ve got an appetite after that, we suggest you try a tartes flambée – like a very thin, Alsatian pizza – with mushrooms and herbs or, for a truly decadent brunch, with butter roasted apples and calvados.