Weekend brunch is now arguably one of the most popular meal times in Essex, with hordes of diners heading out to restaurants every Saturday and Sunday to tuck into smashed avocado on toast or a stack of pancakes with maple syrup dripping down the sides. It only makes sense then that the meaning of brunch has been stretched a little over the years, to accommodate all of the people who are in search of a table.
Officially, brunch is the term given to the practice of eating a small meal between breakfast and lunch, typically because you have overslept. Now that weekend brunches are a bonafide social get together though and such a popular outing, many Essex restaurants have chosen to serve brunch all day long and some even offer the kind of three-course feasts that you would more typically associate with dinner.
While some Essex residents prefer to travel into London and enjoy their brunches in the likes of Shoreditch or Soho, they would actually be able to find a thriving brunch scene much closer to home. Several of the restaurants in our pick of the best brunches in Essex offer up delicious brunch options, including bottomless brunch packages and quirky takes on traditional brunch-time fare. Although not all of the restaurants offer a specific brunch menu, they are all open during the daytime on weekends, so you can really tailor your brunch to your own tastes, eating and drinking as little or as much as you’d like (within reason of course).
So, whether you want to throw on your trendiest threads and enjoy a glamorous afternoon with bubbles or you are looking for a casual place to catch up with friends, our pick of the best Essex brunch spots that you need to know about will have something for you.
What: Sheesh is one of the most famous restaurants in the county and a real celeb haunt too, often filled with TOWIE stars, Love Islanders and Instagram influencers. There isn’t a specific brunch menu here, but the restaurant is open from midday on weekends, so you can enjoy the likes of a Wagyu beef burger followed by hot doughnuts for dessert. Dining here doesn’t come cheap, so we’d recommend wearing your snazziest outfit and making a day of it.
Where: High Road, IG7 6QA
Smith’s of Ongar, Ongar
What: Seafood focused Smith's of Ongar has won legions of fans thanks to its quality produce and sleek service. Brunch here is served on Saturdays between 12-3pm, and guests are able to dine from the a la carte (so no need to worry about a restrictive set menu). Choose from dishes such as pan-fried tiger prawns with garlic chilli butter or a whole cooked lobster thermidor. Sides are just as tempting - don’t miss the truffle mac ‘n’ cheese.
Where: Fyfield Road, CM5 0AL
The Brasserie at Wivenhoe House, Colchester
What: If you are looking for a more traditional brunch, head to Wivenhoe House, where you can enjoy breakfast and brunch classics against the backdrop of a stunning country house hotel. You can keep things continental with fresh pastries and juices (think pain au chocolat and croissants) or you can enjoy something a little heartier with a full English or eggs royale served on toasted breakfast muffins. Don’t forget to make use of the complimentary tea and coffee either.
Where: Wivenhoe Park, CO4 3SQ
Galvin Green Man, Chelmsford
What: The Galvin brothers may have restaurants across London, but they were born and raised in Essex, so it’s only right that one of their locations is on their home turf. Cosy Chelmsford gastropub Galvin Green Man doesn’t serve a dedicated brunch menu, but you can pop by on a Saturday from midday to enjoy lunch. It’s all about seasonality and locally sourced ingredients, so the menu changes often, but you’ll always find a few pub classics, including the seriously impressive deluxe beef burger.
Where: Howe Street, CM3 1BG
The Chequers Matching Green, Ongar
What: Nestled within the picturesque village of Matching Green, The Chequers is a rural pub and restaurant where you can find a delicious brunch on Saturday afternoons. You won’t find anything too unconventional here, but we always think when it comes to brunch, it’s best to stick to the classics. Pick from brunch staples such as eggs any style, smashed avocado on toast or a full English loaded with eggs. baked beans, bacon and black pudding.
Where: Matching Green, CM17 0PZ
Rubino Kitchen, Maldon
What: Part of Chigborough Farm, cutesy Italian-leaning kitchen Rubino offers a great value set weekend brunch, where you can enjoy three courses and a drink for only £20. Start off with dishes such as a smoked haddock Scotch egg with curried mayonnaise, before moving on to the likes of lamb bolognese and basil pesto linguine, followed by strawberry trifle or a chocolate and caramel brownie for dessert.
Where: Chigborough Farm, Chigborough Road, CM9 4RE
What: Considered something of a hidden gem, this cosy restaurant is set in the grounds of The Ivy Hill hotel just outside of Chelmsford. Brunch is served from 12-2pm on Saturdays and features dishes such as chicken supreme wrapped in streaky bacon or pork tenderloin medallions, followed by gingerbread pudding for dessert. Bartellas is also home to a manicured garden, which is great for a spot of alfresco dining when the sun is out.
Where: Writtle Road, CM4 0EH
What: Offering a blend of Mediterranean, European and Turkish cuisine, Aspera is something of an Essex hotspot and a popular choice for weekend brunch. Enjoy a selection of hot and cold meze starters, before choosing a dish from the grill - think chicken beyti, lamb shish or chicken wings, all served with a helping of salad. Want to make things boozy? Pick a cocktail from the list of Aspera signatures.
Where: 130 London Road, SS7 5SQ
Tom, Dick and Harry’s, Loughton
What: As the name suggests, Tom, Dick and Harry’s welcomes all diners to its stylish restaurant and this is also true of its weekend brunch. Served from 10am-12.30pm, brunch here consists of both sweet and savoury treats; get your sugar fix with a stack of pancakes crowned with maple sauce and blueberries, or stick to the savoury side of things via avocado on toasted sourdough bread topped with a poached egg.
Where: 153 High Road, IG10 4LF
The Cricketers, Clavering
What: Although this much-hyped country pub with rooms is no longer owned by Jamie Oliver’s parents (they sold it in 2020), it’s still a popular spot. Most diners choose to stay at The Cricketers overnight and in the morning, you can tuck into a menu of simple breakfast classics before heading out on one of the various country walks nearby - think porridge with berries and honey or smoked haddock with poached egg.
Where: Whyken Road, CB11 4QT
Pig & Whistle, Chelmsford
What: The set brunch/lunch menu at Chelmsford’s The Pig & Whistle is a real steal, priced at just £15 for three courses. The menu here changes seasonally, but you can expect hearty dishes that will satisfy you, as well as at least one vegetarian or vegan option. On your next brunch visit, you might tuck into the likes of a mini fish pie topped with a layer of Parmesan mash or pan-fried cod with crushed new potatoes, samphire and caper beurre noisette
Where: Chignal Road, CM1 4SZ
What: Milsoms may be set in the grounds of a country house hotel, but it’s a thoroughly casual concept. There is no dress code and it’s walk-ins only, so it’s a great spot for a spontaneous brunch. There’s not a dedicated brunch menu and Milsoms food is rather hearty, so don’t plan any dinner reservations. Instead, go all out with the likes of a classic prawn cocktail, followed by fish and chips for mains and an indulgent sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
Where: Stratford Road, CO7 6HW
The Willow Room, Maldon
What: A smart and stylish proposition, The Willow Room is a great candidate as a venue to host a brunch celebrating a special occasion, such as a milestone birthday or an engagement. The brunch menu here is a three-course feast that has something for everyone - think a 6oz burger for those with big appetites, a truffle and herb gnocchi for vegetarian guests, and black cherry pie with vanilla ice cream for diners with an insatiable sweet tooth.
Where: 2 Maldon Road, CM9 8NH
What: If you aren’t a fan of traditional brunch classics such as pancakes and eggs any style, head to Olio in Chelmsford, where you’ll find an Italian twist on a typical Saturday brunch. You can tuck into a comforting bowl of pasta such as spaghetti carbonara or linguine with mussels in a white wine sauce, or opt for one of three classic pizzas instead - choose between margherita, American hot or a vegetable option.
Where: 37 New London Road, CM2 0ND
The Bull, Brentwood
What: While trendy, health-conscious brunches may be di rigeur these days, sometimes all you need is a slap-up pub lunch. You’ll find exactly that at The Bull, a rustic and cosy gastropub in the heart of Brentwood. Head here on a Saturday afternoon from midday to enjoy pub classics such as beer-battered fish and chips, a steak and Guinness pie or 12-hour roasted pork belly with bubble and squeak.
Where: 13 Brook Street, CM14 5LZ
The Nags Head, Brentwood
What: Brunch at The Nags Head is served on both Saturdays and Sundays, and much like the rustic and cosy interiors, it’s a traditional affair. Kickstart your weekend with the typical likes of a full English or a Cumberland sausage sandwich. Eggs any style are also on the menu, as are croissants with jam. All your usual tea and coffee varieties are on hand to help wash it all down, while there are a few ‘morning pick-me-up’ cocktails to try too if you want to liven things up.
Where: 44 Brook Street, CM14 5ND
Cote Brasserie, Chelmsford
What: Chain restaurants don’t have the best reputations, but Cote, with its Gallic menu and fair prices, has always felt a cut above its high street competition. This Chelmsford outpost offers a great value Champagne brunch, where you can enjoy any light main with a glass of Champagne for just £20.95. That means you can tuck into the likes of haddock goujons, steak frites or a wild mushroom risotto with porcini cream and truffle.
Where: 1 Exchange Way, CM1 1XB
What: If you’re heading out to brunch in a small group, or you have a few fussy eaters in your party, it would be difficult to go wrong at Molen’s, because the menu here is so extensive that there is bound to be something for everyone. Pick between the varied likes of sandwiches, wraps, pastas, jacket potatoes, gourmet burgers, salads, and all day breakfasts options including a full English and pancakes - perfect for those who enjoy a lie in!
Where: 209d High Road, IG10 1BB
Ocean Beach, Southend-on-Sea
What: If brunch at the seaside sounds like the perfect way to start your weekend, head to Ocean Beach. Here you’ll find a menu of breakfast and brunch classics that will give you more than enough energy for a relaxing stroll in the sand. Tuck into dishes such as eggs benedict, a stacked bacon club sandwich, or a pile of pancakes topped with sliced banana, a dollop of creme fraiche and lashings of maple syrup.
Where: Eastern Esplanade, SS1 2YG
What: For early risers who like to actually have brunch in the morning, check out Aurum’s menu of tempting dishes, which is served between 7-11am on weekends. You will find all of the usual suspects here, including a fried breakfast, an indulgent French toast and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, but there are a few less conventional dishes to try too, such as the Pina Colada pancake stack.
Where: 7 Clifton Terrace, SS1 1DT
If you don’t mind travelling into London as part of your weekend plans, check out our pick of the coolest brunches in London.