Sometimes – and invariably after a heavy night out on the town – only a brunch will do. South Kensington is famous for world-renowned museums, high-end boutiques and fancy stores, but it’s also mercifully well-blessed with top-class brunching venues. So while your other half or earnest friends indulge in deluxe window-shopping or brain-improving exhibitions, head with kindred spirits to these restorative pit-stops for a superb weekend brunch.
Aubaine Brompton Road
Why: Part of a chic mini-chain of urbane cafés, Aubaine provides a suitably insouciant Gallic start to the day. Weekend brunches (perhaps fuelled by Champagne or a Negroni) are all-encompassing affairs – as healthy (superfood salad) or otherwise (full French breakfast, featuring Toulouse sausages) as you wish. Baskets of pain de campagne, subtly distressed wooden furniture and soft, flattering lighting would be enough to impress most people, even without the menu of breads, patisserie, millefeuilles and financiers.
Where: 260-262 Brompton Road, SW3 2AS
Bibendum Oyster Bar
Why: The ground-floor oyster bar, in the spacious art deco surroundings of the Michelin Building, is ideal for civilised weekend brunches – as are its serving hours (9.30am-5pm). Claude Bosi may concentrate his haute cuisine efforts on the first-floor dining room, but there’s plenty to satisfy casual diners downstairs. Organic granola and fresh juices might start the day, but so too could eggs royale, bacon butties or even seafood platters. And there’s Champagne aplenty to wash everything down.
Where: Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, SW3 6RD
Bumpkin South Ken
Why: It’s billed as ‘your local British brasserie’, but this upmarket branch of the Bumpkin mini-chain feels like a gastropub. Brunch is served 10am-12.45pm Saturday and all day Sunday: a concise, egg-based list including eggs Benedict joining the selection of full English breakfasts (vegetarian and not) and granola. Cold-pressed juices, smoothies and a non-alcoholic Bloody Mary supply liquid accompaniment. The decor provides a studiously tasteful version of farmhouse chic for the tweed-clad ‘Chelsea tractor’ crowd.
Where: 102 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3RD
Why: International restaurant group Caramel already has locations in the States and Dubai, but this sleek South Ken spot is its first London location. The weekend brunch menu (served 10am-2pm) is suitably eclectic in outlook, ranging from blueberry pancakes to lobster and grilled mango tacos, via omelettes, ravioli and rib-eye steak. Around 100 guests can be accommodated here, amid marble surfaces, Italian ceramic tiles and copper finishes. Round things off with Nutella gnocchi and cocktails.
Where: 272 Brompton Road, SW3 2AW
Why: Brindisa is a byword for the finest Spanish comestibles. Although there’s technically no brunch menu, this South Ken branch opens every day from 11am. No-nonsense tapas come thick and fast in the open-fronted dining room (tiles, whitewashed walls, crammed-in tables). Platters of acorn-fed ham and chorizo, flavour-bomb boquerones or blackened Padrón peppers all shine, while albondigas con sepia (meatballs with cuttlefish) aren’t far behind. And don’t miss the cold rice pudding with caramelised milk ice cream.
Where: 7-9 Exhibition Road, SW7 2HE
Why: Open daily from 8.30am, the South Ken branch of this self-styled Lebanese canteen holds plenty of interest for ravenous brunchers. Especially popular is shakshuka – slow-cooked tomatoes onions, herbs, garlic and peppers topped with a fried egg – teamed with feta cheese or sojok sausages. Granola, pastries and croissants are available if you’re after something less robust. Vibrant tiling, outdoor tables and knick-knacks pinned to the wall amplify the Mediterranean vibe, as does a glass of rose mint tea.
Where: 1-5 Exhibition Road, SW7 2HE
Why: This high-end chain blurs the line between restaurant and bar with its moody lighting, mirrored walls and acres of cowhide. Though Gaucho is all about prime Argentinian beef, its pricey ‘Electro Brunch’ (served 11am-4pm) entitles you to a dozen dishes ranging from French toast with peanut butter dulce de leche to Gaucho Benedict (with salt beef). Order dishes as many times as you like, and accompany the feast with Bloody Mary, Aperol Spritz, lager or wine.
Where: 89 Sloane Avenue, SW3 3DX
Why: This subterranean rendezvous is our favourite branch of the meat-majoring chain. The handsome art-deco and wood-panelled interiors are noticeably more grandiose than some of the group’s siblings. Doors open at noon, but although there’s no brunch list, the bar menu’s selection of oysters, burgers, lobster rolls (try the Tokyo version with yuzu and sriracha) and steaks can be accompanied by ‘anti-fogmatic’ eye-openers: invigorating cocktails such as Tom & Jerez (gin, sherry, pear, lemon and almond).
Where: 3 Yeoman’s Row, SW3 2AL
Why: As the name suggests, Margaux is as much about wine as it is about food, though its weekend brunch menu (served 12N-4pm) is more properly paired with cocktails or juices. The French-flavoured cooking runs from the classics – egg en cocotte with brioche and truffle shavings – to salads, tartines and more substantial grills (tuna with tomato salad, say). Margaux’s urban decor (all Brooklyn bare bricks and pendant lights) might seem incongruous, but the room is comfortable and atmospheric.
Where: 152 Old Brompton Road, SW5 0BE
Muriel’s Kitchen South Ken
Why: Muriel’s taps into a bucolic, rose-tinted past with its deliberately homespun country-kitchen look. Brunch is served daily (8am-5pm) and continues the wholesome theme with the likes of toasted spelt banana bread with nut butter, ‘power porridge’, and avocado on sourdough toast with fresh chilli and eggs. You can, however, indulge yourself: start with pain au chocolate, continue with full English, then conclude with coffee and walnut cake. A ‘berry-licious’ smoothie might then appease your guilt.
Where: 1-3 Pelham Street, SW7 2ND
PJ’s Bar & Grill
Why: Looking every inch the swish brasserie, PJ’s provides the regulation pavement tables, polished wooden bar and flooring, and all-day opening (from 10am) – plus, this being Chelsea, a polo theme. The weekend brunch also has a luxurious edge, offering the likes of truffled scrambled eggs, creamed wild mushrooms with fried egg on brioche, and buttermilk pancakes with southern-fried chicken thighs and bourbon maple syrup. ‘Bottomless’ Bloody Marys, Bellinis and Proseccos (for 90 minutes) can accompany your feasting.
Where: 52 Fulham Road, SW3 6HH
Town House at The Kensington
Why: Dark-wood bookshelves, green leather seats and bare tables spell business in the dining room of this plush townhouse hotel. The kitchen specialises in upmarket Brit grub, but its weekend brunch menu (served noon-5pm) has an international slant. So, French toast arrives with maple-roasted figs, mascarpone and almonds; potato waffles are teamed with hot-smoked salmon and preserved-lemon crème fraîche; and shakshuka comes in feta, chorizo or grilled shrimp varieties. Brunch cocktails, including a Bellini Royal, lubricate proceedings.
Where: The Kensington Hotel, 109-113 Queens Gate, SW7 5LP
Wright Brothers South Kensington
Why: Diners wanting to indulge in the Wright Bros’ superb choice of seafood must wait until noon, but even though there’s no brunch list this intimate, bistro-like restaurant is then open through the day. The menu has oysters at its heart: sourced from the Channel Islands, the west coast of Scotland or Ireland. Otherwise, choose from the various seafood platters or meaty daily specials – and revive yourself with that saviour of worse-for-wear brunchers, the Bloody Mary selection.
Where: 56 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3DY
If you’re looking to widen the net, work your way through our pick of the best weekend brunches in the capital.