If you’re going to set yourself up for the day you may as well do it properly. More widely known for its late-night restaurant scene (thanks, of course, to the nearby theatres), Covent Garden also has a vibrant brunch and breakfast scene if you know where to look.
Many of the eateries in the area may seem to be there purely for the purpose of dinner but dig a little deeper and you’ll uncover a whole host of delicious early morning menus just waiting to tempt you to a plate or three of treats. There are of course a handful of high-end hotels which are well versed in what people want first thing, but there are also some more unusual choices – a Bombay style breakfast, or a Peruvian feast, for instance. It’s these slightly more niche options that are sure to impress family or friends visiting from out of town.
Because brunch and breakfast are two very different things (mainly because the former typically comes with a bottomless option) we’ve split up this piece into separate sections. Below you’ll find our round up of the best breakfasts in Covent Garden, while at the bottom of the page you’ll find brunch in Covent Garden options.
The best breakfast in Covent Garden
As your mother probably told you, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but breakfast for most people is a rushed slice of toast on the way to work. The closest many of us get to sitting down to a proper breakfast is when we’re on holiday, so what better place to start the day than London’s tourist honeypot of Covent Garden? Read on for our pick of the best breakfasts in Covent Garden.
Why we like it: The Delaunay is every bit as traditional and grand as its Piccadilly sibling The Wosleley and is perfect for smart breakfast meetings and special occasions. The restaurant’s strong Viennese vibe is reflected in a ‘Viennoiserie’ bakery menu plus a Viennese breakfast of smoked ham, salami, Gouda, egg and rye bread that make a refreshing change from the usual sausage sandwich, porridge and fruit salad.
Where: 55 Aldwych, WC2B 4BB
Why we like it: This chain of vintage-style old Bombay-themed cafés has been popular with Londoners since this first site opened in 2010. Breakfast options at Dishoom are a fusion of Indian and British cuisine, from light and delicate pancakes and banana porridge to the egg-based Indian cooked breakfasts. Wash it all down with a breakfast lassi or cup of chai.
Where: 12 Upper St Martins Lane, WC2H 9FB
Why we like it: Farmstand’s selling point is fast, nutritious and casual dining, inspired by roadside produce stalls. The healthy selection includes coconut or multigrain porridge and rye-based dishes, such as the spicy Mexican egg and rye bread, while there’s a decent range of ready-to-go options for the time-constrained breakfast punter.
Where: 42 Drury Lane, WC2B 5AJ
The Ivy Market Grill
Why we like it: Covent Garden is where The Ivy first sprouted in 1916 and this more recent offshoot has an all-round appeal that should satisfy any hungry Londoner in the morning. Expect all the classics including a full English, buttermilk pancakes and eggs benedict in a buzzy atmosphere that is as well suited to time-rich tourists as rushed power breakfasts.
Where: 1 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8PS
Why we like it: The unofficial canteen of the West End theatre industry, Joe Allen provides American comfort food to anyone in need of an early-morning pick-up. The breakfast offering ranges from a full English, baked goods and egg dishes to grilled steak with hash browns and eggs. Those who aren’t averse to a drink first thing may wish to try the Prosecco and gin Reviver cocktail, served from 10am.
Where: 2 Burleigh Street, WC2E 7PX
Kaspar’s at the Savoy
Why we like it: For a glamorous breakfast in a restaurant full of history, look no further than the Savoy. Kaspar’s is well known for its seafood specialities so breakfast-goers should not miss favourites such as crab benedict, salmon royale and grilled kippers. And this being a world-famous hotel, international options include dim sum and green tea, and teriyaki salmon and miso soup.
Where: The Savoy, Strand, WC2R 0EU
Why we like it: Monmouth Kitchen is an unusual mix of Peruvian and Italian cuisine, served in sleek surroundings. The Mediterranean/South American split translates into a breakfast which gives a twist on the usual full English. Try either the Italian breakfast for its ciabatta, pancetta and truffle hollandaise or the Peruvian for the avocado mixed with yellowtail anticucho and chillies.
Where: 20 Mercer Street, WC2H 9HD
Why we like it: From almond croissants to pain au chocolat, you can’t deny that the French offer some pretty tasty breakfast options, and Aubaine’s seasonally changing offerings specialise in buttery baked goods. Prefer something more substantial? The full French comes with Toulouse sausage and Alsace bacon.
Where: 22 The Market, The Piazza, WC2E 8BH
Why we like it: This lively all-day restaurant is a carbon copy of the New York original, itself a convincing facsimile of a grand French brasserie. The breakfast menu has almost any breakfast dish you could want, from eggs Florentine and a full English to lobster royale and caviar with blinis. Fresh pastries come from Balthazar’s boulangerie next door.
Where: 4-6 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ
The Black Penny
Why we like it: Named after London’s first coffee shops, where the price of admission was a penny, The Black Penny scores on two fronts for breakfast. Coffee provided by Alchemy is one of them, and a range of traditional breakfast dishes alongside a few twists is the other. Speciality hashes include the must-order crispy duck hash.
Where: 34 Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AA
Why we like it: The Covent Garden Hotel’s restaurant has all the boutique charm and slick service you need for a business brekkie. All the usual breakfast suspects are present and correct at Brasserie Max, plus some welcome fish specialities. Kedgeree, a smokehouse kipper with lemon and herb butter and the salmon and cream cheese bagel are all worthy alternatives to avo toast and bacon sandwiches.
Where: Covent Garden Hotel, 10 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9HB
Best Brunch in Covent Garden
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 our favourite places for brunch in Covent Garden.
Why we like it: Sure, we've included Balthazar in our breakfast round up too, but it serves its dual purposes well, so who are we to deny it a place in both lists? 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 we like it: 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 we like it: 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 we like it: 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 we like it: Another listing worthy of a place on both our breakfast and brunch lists is Dishoom. 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. If you arrive in after breakfast has finished then why not go all in on a spicy start to the day and order a few plates from the grill section of the main menu.
Where: 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9FB
Flesh & Buns
Why we like it: 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. At Flesh & Buns doughnuts and sobacha crème brûlée round things off.
Where: 41 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LX
Why we like it: 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 salso erved throughout the week.
Where: The Henrietta Hotel, 14-15 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QH
Ladurée Covent Garden
Why we like it: 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 we like it: 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 from Lima Floral's menu, before a 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 we like it: 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 for breakfast as well as brunch. 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 we like it: Do you fancy Italian or Peruvian for brunch? 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, WC2H 9HD
Looking to catch a show while you're in Covent Garden? Take full advantage of early dining offers with our pick of the best pre-theatre menus nearby.