It is a cruel and unusual punishment to rush to WC2 too early on a weekend morning, especially if you only stopped clubbing at 5am, so leisurely brunches are much in demand. Fortunately, this entertaining corner of the capital has plenty of venues ready and willing to supply the requisite soothing repasts. Here we list 11 of our favourite places for brunch in Covent Garden.
Why: Keith McNally’s lively upscale brasserie lives up to the reputation of his NYC original. The food usually wins approval too, including the weekend brunch which has a ‘petit’ version (served 9-10am, including full English) before the full monty kicks in (10am-4pm). The meal could be as simple as coffee and croissants from Balthazar’s boulangerie next door, or a feast: scrambled egg and Cornish crab, New York pancakes, or even caviar with blinis.
Where: 4-6 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ
J Sheekey Atlantic Bar
Why: The Legendary J Sheekey Atlantic Bar is not only home to one of London's most attractive terraces, but it also serves up a delectable Sunday brunch. Naturally, the seafood dishes are the stars here – think a classic prawn cocktail topped with flowering avocado slices, tangy cubes of tuna loaded onto a crispy taco shell, and a decadent crab mac 'n' cheese. Sides aren't an aferthought though and feature the likes of cripsy golden fries topped with chorizo and manchego, while desserts see sweet waffles drizzled with maple syrup.
Where: 28-32 St Martin's Court, WC2N 4AL
Big Easy Covent Garden
Why: Celebrating New Orleans in all its sinful glory, Big Easy lays on a weekend ‘boozy brunch’ including a choice of alcoholic beverages (from house wine to Mojitos). This good-timing crab-shack and barbecue kitchen is located in a former Victorian power station, with many original features intact and a formidable nine-metre bar. Order clam chowder or Cobb salad; alternatively, choose the limitless pork and chicken-based barbecue or a fresh lobster feast.
Where: 12 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA
Why: Christopher’s handsome Grade II-listed Victorian building makes a seemly setting for a reliably good Stateside weekend brunch. The menu is extensive, incorporating buttermilk pancakes with maple-cured bacon, corn beef hash, blackened salmon with jambalaya risotto and a ‘superfood’ brunch of warm kale and butternut-squash salad. Likewise, liquid accompaniments can take the healthy path (a citrus beet cleanser smoothie) or the naughtier route (Patrón XO Espresso Martini). The choice is yours.
Where: 18 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DD
Dishoom Covent Garden
Why: Dishoom’s take on the café culture of old Bombay (quirky vintage styling included) hits the spot with Londoners – and brunchers will be pleased the breakfast menu is served daily until 11.45am. Highlights include the Kejriwal (two fried eggs on chilli cheese toast) and the acclaimed bacon naan roll. Alternatively, fire-toast with pink-peppercorn and pineapple jam makes a sweeter start to the day, eased down with chai or maybe a cocktail.
Where: 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9FB
Flesh & Buns
Why: Sunday brunch at this boisterous izakaya-style Japanese drinking joint isn’t cheap, but a Bone Daddies Bloody Mary on arrival, followed by Prosecco while eating will soon put you past caring. Choose as many of the eight small plates as you wish – perhaps miso soup, crab California roll, and chicken yakitori – then a ‘flesh’ dish (crispy piglet belly or Portobello mushroom, for instance) with buns. Doughnuts and sobacha crème brûlée round things off.
Where: 41 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LX
Why: Michelin-starred wunderkind Ollie Dabbous has entered this hotel-based collaboration with the guys behind the Experimental Cocktail Club on a temporary basis. Henrietta’s corridor-like dining room is outshone by his internationally flavoured Sunday brunch menu, where miso chicken salad and shakshuka share space with maple-syrup waffles, warm madeleines, croque monsieurs – and the inevitable full English. Choose from sourdough, English muffin, brioche or cornbread as accompaniment. Breakfast is served throughout the week.
Where: The Henrietta Hotel, 14-15 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QH
Ladurée Covent Garden
Why: Sweet-toothed brunchers should make a beeline for the intimate Parisian teahouse that’s part of Ladurée’s macaron emporium. Like a beautiful French boudoir, the two tiny rooms are decorated with pastel shades and velvet banquettes. The exquisite cakes are in great demand, though you’ll also find brunch-style dishes such as Ladurée omelette (with ham, Emmenthal, mushrooms and tomato) and soft-boiled egg with caviar. Alfresco seating on the terrace or piazza is a further draw.
Where: Unit 1, Covent Garden Market, WC2E 8RF
Why: Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez first wowed Londoners with Michelin-starred Lima in Fitzrovia. This more accessible sibling has a six-course weekend brunch where sea bream ceviche with tangy, spicy tiger’s milk is just one of the four small-plate treats. Next, choose a main such as chicken breast with Andean herb sauce and citrusy aji panca juice, before pudding of shortbread filled with dulce de leche. Pisco Sours will ease you into the day.
Where: 14 Garrick Street, WC2E 9BJ
The Ivy Market Grill
Why: With its smart terrace overlooking Covent Garden piazza, a dapper bar and populist all-day menu, this offshoot of The Ivy has oodles of all-round appeal. Ivy signature dishes such as shepherd’s pie add to the allure. Other sound choices range from chicken Milanese topped with fried egg to a comforting dessert of apple tarte fine. Full English breakfasts, cream teas for tourists, and quick-fix theatre menus complete the happy picture.
Where: 1 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8PS
Why: Do you fancy Italian or Peruvian for breakfast? Monmouth Kitchen offers both – served daily until 10.30am (11am Sunday) – plus a full English. This hotel dining room looks sexier than many of its ilk, with tables overlooking pretty Monmouth Street. The Italian brekkie features char-grilled ciabatta and truffle hollandaise with eggs and pancetta, while the Peruvian teams scrambled eggs with coriander, avocado and anticucho meat skewers. Choose Bellinis or Machu Mary cocktails to accompany.
Where: Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel, 20 Mercer Street,